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125 Years of Marist Education in Samoa Celebrated in NZ

125 Years of Marist Education in Samoa Celebrated in New Zealand


The milestone 125 years anniversary of Marist Education in Samoa was celebrated in Auckland on Saturday with Mass led by Father Talipope Vaifale followed by dinner.

The event organised by the Marist St. Josephs Old Pupils Association in Auckland was held at St. Joseph’s Church at Grey Lynn attended by old boys, families and friends.

Brother David Lavin shared the history which began in September 1870 when Brothers Ulbert and Landry, both 35 years old, left Mother House of the Marist Brothers in France for the new Pacific mission in Samoa. On 1 May 1871 after six months at sea, they arrived and opened a school at Saleufi, Apia.

The first school closed in 1877 due to ill health of the Brothers and factional warfare which erupted in Samoa.

In 1888 Brothers Phillippe, Hilary and Dalvianus opened the school in Mulivai, teaching English. 1889 saw more civil war and unrest in Samoa with the three great powers of Germany, England and the United States all jostling for control of Samoa. Br. Phillippe, fluent in French, English and Samoan had the gruesome task of recovering the dead mediating between the rival factions. The Treaties of 1899 finally restored order with Eastern Samoa being given to the United States and Western Samoa to Germany. The German flag was raised in Apia, and as Germany became the official language Br. Alfred continue d his class for Germany children. The roll rose to 130.

A new school was built in 1909 with five spacious classrooms for over 300 students. By 1932 there were more than 400 students.

World War 2 had little effect on the Mulivai school. The roll continued to grow – reaching 587 in 1943, and new buildings were added, the grounds developed and the lay teachers employed to help teaching the growing numbers.

In 1950 St. Joseph’ High School began at Mulivai with Br. Jerome as Principal while the Brothers looked for a better site. This was found at Lotopa and the St. Joseph’s began there in 1960.

In the 1960’s Br. Casmir over saw the building of a new Brother’s house at Mulivai. From 1965 – 1969 Br. Jerome and Fr. Robin Leamy SM ran a Mission’s Teacher Training School at Mulivai to provide well trained local teachers for the demand in Apia and in the village mission schools.

In 1975 the school roll had now reached 1,100 students, ready to fill the new classroom blocks parallel to the Mulivai river which Br. Claver (Basil Ward) had been building. Among other Brothers serving at the school during these years were Brs. Cormac, Patrick, Timothy, Ronald, Stanislaus, Gonzaga (Desmond), Christopher, Donald and Edward.

Today Marist Mulivai is sited at the back of the Brother’s property with two new classroom blocks, a new administration area, Hall and the soon to be completed Science and Library block, a donation of the Old Boys as they celebrate 125 years of Marist education at Mulivai.

A New Zealand contingent will be travelling to Samoa this week led by President Leota Isaako Saufua and committee of the Marist St. Josephs Old Pupils Association in Auckland, members of the Class of 1988 and the Samoa Consul, Faolotoi Pogi who is also the patron of the Auckland chapter to join with the celebrations at Marist Mulivai.


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