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New Zealand Marks the Centenary of the Occupation of Samoa

New Zealand occupied Samoa 100 years ago, the second German territory captured in the First World War.

A national commemoration to mark the centenary of New Zealand’s occupation of Samoa will take place on Friday 29 August at the Auckland Cenotaph, Auckland Domain, from 4.15pm. Public are welcome to attend the ceremony, which will be webcast live .

In August 1914, Britain made a request to New Zealand to seize the German colony of Samoa as a ‘great and urgent Imperial service’. Strategically they sought to have a large radio mast neutralised as it was capable of broadcasting to ships across the Pacific and to Berlin.

The Samoan Advance Party - approximately 1400 ‘rank and file’ including nurses, chaplains, mechanics, Post and Telegraph Corps and engineers – landed at Apia on 29 August 1914. Lieutenant-Colonel Robert Logan reported that the German officers stationed on Samoa did not resist and there were no casualties during this action. The Union Jack was raised on the Court House in Apia the following day.

“WW100, our programme for the First World War centenary, focuses on the distinct New Zealand story of the war and it’s impact,” says Hon Christopher Finlayson, Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage and Minister responsible for WW100. “This ceremony marks the New Zealand Occupation of German Samoa in 1914, which was the starting point for the close relationship we have with Samoa now. This is the second national commemoration in a programme that is largely community-led supported by Government initiatives and national and international commemorations and projects.”

This ceremony will be led by His Excellency Lieutenant General the Right Honourable Sir Jerry Mateparae, GNZM, QSO, Governor-General of New Zealand and His Excellency Leasi Papali’i Tommy Scanlan, High Commissioner for Samoa. Members of the Royal New Zealand Navy will form a Guard of Honour and conduct a Royal Salute in the presence of His Excellency The Governor-General. The programme for this ceremony is available here .

Short historical readings in front of the Cenotaph, Auckland Domain, will provide perspectives from the 1914 Samoan Advance Party and the Samoan experience of the First World War. Laying of wreaths will be undertaken by representatives of New Zealand, Samoa, Britain and Germany. Following a reading by college students Leorida Peters and Ben Gatting, a prayer will be offered in commemoration of the centenary of New Zealand’s occupation of German Samoa.

The Last Post will be played and the Ode read. The De La Salle College Choir and the Royal New Zealand Navy Band will perform at the commemoration.

Samoa is also hosting a military commemoration, at sunset, 5.30pm – 6.30pm, 29 August at Magiagi Cemetery, Apia, followed by an official dinner. Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa and representatives from Samoa, New Zealand, Germany, Australia, France and Britain will lay wreaths.
An overview of the WW100 programme, annual themes and historical information is available here . Media resources including images and the WW100 symbol are here .


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