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Samoa Under the Sailing Gods

Appendix xi

page 306

Appendix xi

Letter to Author from G. E. L. Westbrook Apia, Samoa, Feby, 20th, 1928.

Dear Mr. Rowe,

I received no letter from you by the last mail, and now hear that mail has been over-carried to Sydney (registered).

Kindly acknowledge all letters or papers from me, as in high politics I trust nobody.

Last month a letter of Gurr's containing about 12 pages forwarded to the American Associated Press of which he is agent, and posted in time for the Lady Roberts, was discovered in the pan of the lavatory at the Post Office, all wet and had been used as toilet paper.

Three of the local men and boys employed in the Post Office were suspended, pending an investigation, the investigation has been held, and that is apparently the last of it. The boys are now suing the Post Office or Administration for wrongful dismissal.

You remember Holland, M.P., complained about some correspondence from Samoa having been tampered with, including a registered letter. Ross on Savaii, also received a registered letter from you which had been opened.

Things are now moving swiftly in Samoa, and 95 per cent. of the natives are in the Mau, and the Government cannot possibly function, as the Samoans will neither pay their taxes, nor will they attend to Court summons or letters from the Administration.

They are gathered in large numbers in or near Apia, will allow no natives to purchase in the stores. They have about 100 leoleos or pickets distributed round the stores, while the Administration have a number of extra Samoan policemen.

The 6 constables that arrived by the last Tofua so far have done nothing, they are quartered at the Old British and Turf Club.

The Samoans will resist arrest, but otherwise are going in for passive resistance.

page 307

Tuatagaloa who was sent away as a leper and returned, is very staunch for the Government and so are his people they say. About 200 or 300 came over last week, with their knives and axes, and put up at Tagamonono, and some at Matafagatele. The excuse was that they were going to plant bananas at Utumapu. The Mau people were very suspicious, and gave orders that both sides should close in a bit.

The Administrator now wants to meet the Mau people, and there is talk (I cannot vouch for the truth) that on Monday he will if they meet him put a proposition to them, that so many Mau chiefs and so many Faipule should go as a delegation to New Zealand. I very much doubt if the Mau people will meet him, and they certainly will have nothing to do with his Faipule. Anyhow it is a climb down, if he makes this concession. My opinion is that Coates and his party find they have made a hell of a mess of things. Meredith, Williams and myself, have received no reply to our letter to the Administrator refusing to apologize.

Now Gurr is away I would like to put you in touch with the new editor of the Samoa Guardian, a Mr. Tarr….

I received a wire from Nelson that the newspaper campaign starts in New Zealand on Feby. 7th. Nelson would say nothing in going through Fiji, neither would Smyth. Rutherford, who was a fellow-passenger with Nelson and very friendly as Nelson thought, was interviewed in Fiji and stated that now the three principal offenders were deported the Mau would die out.

The interview appeared in the paper the following morning while the Tofua was still in Suva, with the result that Nelson gave him b——dy hell and said how could such a two-faced man be trusted with the care of looking out for and educating children.

In New Zealand, Nelson would say nothing till he had first seen Sir John Findlay. A public meeting called by Hall Skelton a Barrister in the Civil Square at which 600 people were present during the dinner hours, to form an anti-deportation association. Nelson and Smyth were both present, unknown to Skelton, who had never met them.

You will be pleased with the way the Guardian continues to be run, but unfortunately the native Supplement "Matua Tausi" is discontinued, as it will have to be censored first by the Administrator. I wish in your writings you will mention page 308this fact, as the Savali is still attacking us and the members of the Mau as is the Samoa Times as well.

Brown did not come up to time, re what I gave him for saying that Gurr ought to be in Vaimea Jail.

The worst part of this damned administration, is that they are fiendishly throttling me commercially and financially. When the Minister was here they took away my telephone for a few months' arrears I owed. Now they have cut off my electric light, this of course prevents me writing by night. I claim they owe me money belonging to Germans forceably deported, also £87 money advanced to Guardin, to pay labour, my security being the cocoa on the trees. They received Guardin's quarter's rent on the 5th March till the 5th of May, yet they put him out to make way for Cobcroft, on the 28th March. The result was I lost my cocoa.

Could you arrange with some newspaper by which I could send them wires occasionally regarding events taking place in Samoa? Brown is representative of the Associated Press in New Zealand. He wires away all one side pro Administration news. We are not out of the soup by a long way yet and anything might start a war.

Holland, the Leader of the Opposition, writes me that he is writing a pamphlet The Revolt of Samoa.

The Samoans are forwarding a monster petition to the League of Nations. The draft has been drawn up and forwarded to Sir John Findlay for approval.

I think I have given you all the news.

Yours faithfully,

G. E. L. Westbrook.

Author's Note.—Warships were already on their way to Samoa (1928).