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Australia & Samoa Reflect on Relationship as they Celebrate Australian Day

By Lagi Keresoma

APIA, SAMOA – 27 JANUARY 2023: The Australian community in Samoa came together Wednesday night 25 January to celebrate the Australian National Day at a ceremony hosted by Australia’s High Commissioner to Samoa, Her Excellency Emily Luck.

Joining the celebration of diverse culture and people were Samoa’s Head of State, Member of the Council of Deputies, Cabinet Ministers, members of the Judiciary, diplomatic representatives and the business community.

The official part of the celebration started off with a well-placed combination of a prayer, social commentary and humour led by Reverend Dr. Siaosi Salesulu. Formerly of New Zealand, Reverend started with Australia’s monumental annual wine production “that is not all for sacrament” that could be fitting for Samoa’s current beer shortage, to praising the diversity of the Australian society.

Then he ended with a joke on the sporting competitiveness between New Zealand and Australia where an Eddie Jones coached Wallabies drew 6 all with the All Blacks that featured Ritchie McCaw as the only player.

“What happened?” the ABs players asked McCaw after the match?

“Well I got sent off by the referee at half time.”

Samoa’s Deputy Prime Minister Tuala Tevaga Iosefo Ponifasio expressed Samoa’s best wishes for the Australia Day celebrations.

“We pay tribute to the growing recognition and acceptance of the indigenous voices and practices that will add value to strengthening societies,” said Tuala.

As one of Samoa’s major aid donors, both countries share issues of mutual cooperation such as health, education, environment, sports, infrastructure and employment.

“We continue to work in partnership with Australia to develop Samoa’s aspirations and priorities as outlined in the Pathway for the Development of Samoa and we appreciate the effort by the Australian Government to enhance its engagement with the Pacific in combating the issues of climate change and ensuring good governance of our oceans and resources,” said Tuala.

Acknowledging ancestors
HE Emily Luck paid tribute and acknowledged Samoa’s ancestors whose journey of the vast ocean of thousands of years ago in search of prosperity. She also acknowledged the Samoan culture which is rooted in love, mutual respect and a commitment to look after their natural heritage.

“I acknowledge the elders past, present and emerging whose custodianship of these lands in which we meet has ensured its resilience despite emerging existential threats,” she said.

We think of Australia’s diverse landscape from its snow-capped mountains in Tasmania, the beautiful beaches of Queensland and New South Wales to the deep red sand in central Australia.

“Australia is a modern developed multicultural society bringing together people from across the globe with shared values of fairness, tolerance and diversity and being there for one another,” she said.

She said the Samoa diaspora in Australia is an integral part of that society making invaluable contributions to the fabric of our nation, and it’s the same for Australians residing and working in Samoa, contributing to the development of Samoa.

australia guests1
australia guests1

His Highness the Head of State, Tuimalealiifano Vaaletoa 11, the Member of the Council of Deputies, Le Mamea Ropati, Deputy Prime Minister Tuala Iosefo Ponifasio and High Commissioner Emily Luck and guests at the celebration.

Indigenous voices in Parliament
HE Emily said Australia may have come a long way along the path of reconciliation with Aborigines, but there is still much work to do.

“The Australian Government continues to work in partnership with the indigenous owners of our lands to centre their voices when it comes to matters that affect them,” she said.

And part  of this important  work is Prime Minister Anthony Albanese commitment in implementing the Uhuru Statement  from the Heart.

“The statement which was created by Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders outlines a path towards recognising indigenous Australians by  codifying an indigenous voice to Parliament in Australia Constitution,” she said.

Australia’s commitment to the region is also noted by being a member of the Pacific Island Forum and standing with the Pacific family in addressing issues of concerns and  responses to common challenges such as climate change.

Relationship with Samoa
Tuala said the celebration of any anniversary day is an opportune time to reflect on how far we have come in the achievement of our goals for our planet, people, peace and prosperity.

“It is also a time to review the partnerships we have committed to and ensure they remain mutually beneficial,” he said.

The diplomatic relationship between Australia and Samoa started in 1971.

“We have a significant number of Samoans who call Australia home and are contributing meaningfully to the multicultural community of Australians. Similarly we have a growing community of Australians in Samoa who work and live here,” said Tuala.

australia staff
australia staff

The Australian High Commission staff.

Both countries have worked closely as partners locally and regionally to achieve their shared goals in economic development and regional security.

One area of partnership which has contributed much to the development of Samoan families is the Australian Labour Mobility Scheme.

On the bilateral side, their shared mutual interest and value is reflected in a collective effort with the Pacific for a Blue Pacific Nations.

HE Emily Luck said that with Samoa’s priorities in the forefront, Australia has reformed its delivery of their development program to reflect  the needs identified by the Government of Samoa which outlined in its Pathway for Development of Samoa.

“We do and always will respect Samoa’s sovereignty and will continue to work together to support its aspirations,” said the High Commissioner.

One area of continued partnership between the countries is sports which will continue to be a shared passion between the two countries and they will never forget the joyous scene in Samoa and across the globe when Toa Samoa made it to the Rugby League World Cup final against Australia.

“While Australia may have ultimately won the Cup, Samoa won the hearts of the people with their historic feat and incredible parades in cities across the world.

“So on this Australian Day, we not only reflect on our national identity as Australians, but also our roles as global citizens and members of the Pacific family,” she said.

The National Anthems of both countries were sung after the toasts.