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14 Samoans awarded New Zealand citizenship

By Lagi Keresoma

APIA, SAMOA – 07 FEBRUARY 2023: As part of this years’ Waitangi Day celebrations on 06 February, 14 Samoan’s became New Zealand citizens and were congratulated and awarded their Certificates of Citizenship by the New Zealand High Commissioner to Samoa, His Excellency Dr. Trevor Matheson.

The High Commissioner said the group of 14 new Kiwis heralded the 183rd Waitangi Day celebrations in Samoa and continues the spiritual journey from Hawaiki to Aotearoa New Zealand.

“These new Kiwis add value and diversity to our nation and as we build our national character and identity, we have been privileged and corporate many positive characteristics, customs and talents from Samoa and Polynesia.”

Dr. Trevor Matheson said the spirit of Waitangi underpins New Zealand’s relationship with these islands through culture, history, experiences and success that are threads of a true partnership.

Time to reflect & move forward
The Treaty of Waitangi was signed on 6 February 1840 and established a framework for the Government of New Zealand.

Dr. Matheson said Waitangi is a time to look back and reflect on how they have come this far and to continue to move forward with dignity.

NZHC and Tui Atua

NZHC and Tui Atua

He said in recent years, the Government has made implicit and constructive efforts to address the negatives of the past and to compensate.

“That reconciliation process continues and I have no doubt, debates will continue,” he said.

He believes the spirit of the original sacred compact signed 183 years ago has paved a new way of true people living together in harmony and equality, and remains New Zealand’s nature and its enduring democracy.

waitangi tuala
waitangi tuala

The Deputy Prime Minister, Tuala Tevaga Iosefo Ponifasio toasting the good relations between New Zealand and Samoa.

“The Treaty has brought us together as a nation governed by a democratic administration that we have elected together regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, religion or sexual orientation,” said Dr. Matheson.

Samoa’s Deputy Prime Minister, Tuala Tevaga Iosefo Ponifasio congratulated New Zealand on the 183rd anniversary of the Waitangi Treaty and also congratulated the new Kiwis.

“The Treaty of Waitangi has withstood the challenges of time, of criticism as to its values and the breaches added to the sanctity of the compact through reconciliation,” said Tuala.

“It is a time to reflect on the past that is rich in culture and tradition, shared relations and responsibilities for enduring peace, democracy and prosperity for its people,” said Tuala.

Both speakers referred to the countries bilateral relationship and the Treaty of Friendship signed between the two countries in 1962.

“The spirit of partnership is the heart of the New Zealand and Samoa Treaty of Friendship signed 1962 and complemented by the statement of partnership signed in February 2019,” said Dr. Matheson.

Tuala reiterated Dr. Matheson’s words and said “the cornerstone of our bilateral relations as lifelong friends – uo mamae – was highlighted in the celebration of the Treaty of Friendship 60th anniversary last year which included the exchange of high level visits demonstrating the strengthening of people to people links between the two countries.

NZ HC & Le Mamea

NZ HC & Le Mamea

“This is characterized by mutual respect and legal partnership for the benefit of our countries and people and as we say – ua ta vainiu e tasiyet there is still a reality of unmet expectations,” said Tuala.

Evidence of a strong partnership between the two countries was noted during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The COVID pandemic turned our world upside down and inside out,” said Dr. Matheson, “but in this period of adversity and disruption, our partnership has, I believe, been stronger than ever and through partnership, we were able to fight the pandemic, achieve vaccination rates and put in place measures to ensure our borders were safe.

“It tells us that we are all in the same waka and we are all from the same Pacific family – o le fogava’a e tasi.

Tuala noted Samoa’s sizable ethnic population in New Zealand, not only from the earliest migration but also those selected under the quota scheme. Whilst the majority have simulated well and are contributing meaningfully to the growing multi ethnic and diverse community of New Zealand, there are a few who do not adapt well and return home under the Returnees Program.

“We look forward to the continuation of our bilateral relations and partnership and regular dialogue,” Tuala said before proposing a toast to the continuing relations between New Zealand and Samoa.