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‘Guardians and Wards’ : (A study of the origins, causes, and the first two years of the Mau in Western Samoa.)


page 12

‘the sun blazed and burned, it was glowing, but clouds were heaping up in vaporous drops, breathing and wheezing, shifting their masses.’

(Yevtushenko, ‘Zima Junction’)

page 13

‘We are satisfied that until the public meeting of 15th October, 1926, there was no real dissatisfaction amongst the Samoans with the Administration.’12

(Royal Commission Report, 1927)

‘No, the dissatisfaction among the Natives was long before that. It was growing all the time.’13

(O.F. Nelson)

It is not difficult to relate, historically, the discontent of the nineteen twenties to that caused by the epidemics of the nineteenth century, the political troubles of the pre-Partition (and Partition) and German periods, the economic grievances associated with the growth of a money economy and the large-scale alienation of land, and the fear of social disintegration. This discontent was transmitted from generation to generation, becoming traditional grievances - distorted perhaps - but genuine grievances which coloured Samoan (and European-part-European) attitudes to later papalagi ‘malo’. The Mau of the nineteen twenties did not just bloom out of a void; it was deeply-rooted in the Samoan past, in the ties of blood and country, in the culture-contact between Samoa and ‘Europe’. This section is an attempt to trace the growth of discontent, to clarify the changing attitudes of the Samoans and the European-part-Europeans toward the papalagi administrations, (and vice Versa), and to discern why the Samoans and European-part-Europeans united to reject the New Zealand ‘Malo’. Definite historical circumstances, events and personalities determined the growth page 14 of the discontent, which led inevitably to the clash of the nineteen twenties and the rejection, by the majority of the Samoan population, of Richardson's Administration, and European domination. Richardson did not cause the Mau; he triggered it off.