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Legends of the Maori

To a Patriot of Samoa

page 250

To a Patriot of Samoa

ATRIBUTE of affection and admiration to the high chief, Tamasese (afterwards killed with a number of his people on Apia Beach), who was imprisoned as the result of political differences with the New Zealand Government administration of Samoa. Sir Maui Pomare visited Tamasese in his prison-cell at Auckland in 1929, and was moved to tears, and he wrote this message to the “New Zealand Samoa Guardian”:

“To-day I saw Tamasese in gaol. I greeted him in his own tongue. We sat and talked of many things. I said, ‘Tamasese, I am sorry to see you here, and yet I am glad. I came to see your face….’

“And so I looked into the countenance of a Tama—an Ariki—a prince indeed. The lineal descendant of kings whose genealogical lines reach back into the twilight of fable, and yet withal I looked and saw the face of a martyr—a patriot. He has given his all in the cause of his people— the emancipation of his race.

“I thought, and asked myself this question. What have we—New Zealand—done? In our blind blundering party wrangling and political humbug we put this man in gaol. That is what we have done. This man we deprived of liberty, hereditary titles, degraded, deported and imprisoned. Yet those titles will continue till the last drop of Tamasese blood ceases to flow.

“Degradation? An honour. Deportation? A privilege. Imprisonment? A crown of glory. And so we have made it! ‘la loto malosi, Tamasese’ (‘Be strong in heart, Tamasese’).”