Western Samoa Trust Territory

Western Samoa Mandate, then Western Samoa Trust Territory, officially Territory of Western Samoa was the name of Western Samoa during its civil administration by New Zealand between 1920 and Samoan independence in 1962. Six years earlier, German Samoa was captured by New Zealand forces shortly after the outbreak of World War I, but it would not be formally annexed by the British Empire until then.

Territory of Western Samoa
Coat of arms
"God Defend New Zealand"
(Māori: "Aotearoa")

"God Save the Queen"[lower-alpha 1]
StatusOccupied territory of New Zealand (1914–1920)
Mandate of New Zealand (1920–1947)
United Nations Trust Territory of New Zealand (1947–1962)
13°50′S 171°45′W
Common languagesEnglish (official)
Austronesian languages
Papuan languages
GovernmentExternal Territory of New Zealand
George V
Edward VIII
George VI
Elizabeth II
Robert Logan
Robert Tate
George Richardson
Stephen Allen
Herbert Hart
Alfred Turnbull
Jack Wright
Historical eraBritish Empire
30 August 1914
17 December 1914
13 December 1946
1 January 1962
CurrencyPound sterling (1914–1930)
New Zealand pound (1930–1962)
Western Samoan pound (1930–67)
Preceded by
Succeeded by
German Samoa
Western Samoa
Today part ofSamoa


Occupation of German Samoa in World War I

The Union Flag raised in Apia, 30 August 1914

At the outbreak of World War I German Samoa was a German colony. On 7 August 1914, the British government indicated to New Zealand (which was at this time a British dominion), that the seizure of a wireless station near Apia, the colony's capital which was used by the German East Asia Squadron, would be a "great and urgent Imperial service".[2] This was followed by the first action of New Zealand in the war, the sailing of a Samoa Expeditionary Force on 15 August, which landed at Apia two weeks later. Although Germany refused to officially surrender the colonies, no resistance was offered and the occupation took place without any fighting. Despite claims that German Samoa was the first enemy territory to fall to imperial forces, the first seizure of a German colony had occurred four days earlier when Togoland was captured as part of the West Africa Campaign.[3]

Colonel Robert Logan, who had commanded the Samoan Expeditionary Force, was the military administrator of the colony for the remainder of the war.[4] By 1918, Samoa had a population of some 38,000 Samoans and 1,500 Europeans.[5] Approximately one fifth of the population died in the Influenza epidemic of 1918–1919.[6] In 1919, The Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Epidemic concluded that there had been no epidemic of pneumonic influenza in Western Samoa before the arrival of the SS Talune from Auckland on 7 November 1918, which was allowed to berth by Logan without quarantine precautions. Within seven days of this ship's arrival influenza had become epidemic in Upolu and had then spread rapidly throughout the territory.[7]


On 17 December 1920, the League of Nations formally conferred a Class C Mandate over the former German Colony of Samoa to the Dominion of New Zealand.[8][9] The mandate was supported by the Samoa Constitution Order, 1920, which had replaced the military occupation with a civil administration on 1 May 1920.[8][10] On 1 April 1922, the Samoa Act 1921 came into force.[11]

Under the Samoa Act the New Zealand Governor-General appointed an administrator based in Apia to hold executive power and to report to the New Zealand Minister of External Affairs in Wellington; lawmaking power was held by the administrator and a local legislative council, although Wellington had final authority.[8] New Zealand administrators repressed freedom of media, freedom of association, and free speech on Western Samoa, as well as banished those who criticized New Zealand's rule.[12]

After 1945, the classification of the mandate was changed to a United Nations Trust Territory.[13]

From Mau protests to independence

The Mau (translates as "strongly held opinion") was a popular non-violent movement which had its beginnings in the early 1900s (decade) in Savai'i. It was first led by Lauaki Namulauulu Mamoe, an orator chief deposed by the German administration. The 1920s saw the resurgence of the Mau in opposition to the New Zealand administration. One of the Mau leaders was Olaf Frederick Nelson, a half Samoan and half Swedish merchant.[14] Nelson was exiled by the administration during the late 1920s and early 1930s, but he continued to assist the organisation financially and politically.

On 28 December 1929, the newly elected leader, high chief Tupua Tamasese Lealofi III, led his fellow uniformed Mau in a peaceful demonstration in downtown Apia.[15] The New Zealand police attempted to arrest the high chief. When he resisted, a struggle occurred between the police and the Mau. The officers began to fire randomly into the crowd and a Lewis machine gun, mounted in preparation for this demonstration, was used to disperse the Mau.[16] Chief Tamasese was shot from behind and killed while trying to bring calm and order to the Mau demonstrators, screaming "Peace, Samoa". Ten others died that day and approximately fifty were injured by gunshots and police batons.[17]

That day would come to be known in Samoa as Black Saturday. The Mau grew, remaining steadfastly non-violent, and expanded to include a highly influential women's branch. After repeated efforts by the Samoan people, Western Samoa gained independence in 1962 and signed a Friendship Treaty with New Zealand. Samoa was the first country in the Pacific to become independent.

In 2002, New Zealand's prime minister Helen Clark, on a trip to Samoa, formally apologised for New Zealand's role in the banishment of Samoan leaders, the failure to quarantine SS Talune, and the Appia shootings.[18][19]

Notable people


  1. "God Save the Queen" was officially a national anthem, but generally used only on regal and viceregal occasions.[1]


  1. "Protocol for using New Zealand's National Anthems". Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 17 February 2008.
  2. Smith 1924, p. 14.
  3. McGibbon 2007, p. 65.
  4. Munro, Doug. "Robert Logan". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 30 September 2016.
  5. "Wartime administration – capture of German Samoa". NZHistory.net.nz. Retrieved 18 October 2010.
  6. "The 1918 flu pandemic". NZHistory.net.nz. Retrieved 26 November 2007.
  7. Albert Wendt. "Guardians and Wards: (A study of the origins, causes, and the first two years of the Mau in Western Samoa.)".
  8. "New Zealand in Samoa: Colonial administration". NZHistory. New Zealand Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 27 December 2015.
  9. "League of Nations Mandate for German Samoa". NZHistory. New Zealand Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 27 December 2015.
  10. Samoa Constitution Order, 1920 (1 April 1920; N.Z. Gaz. 1920, p. 1619). Treaties of Peace Act 1919 (29 October 1919; 10 GEO V 1919 No 20); "[...] The Governor-General is hereby empowered to make, by Order in Council, such provisions as he deems necessary [...] for the government of the said Islands of Western Samoa[...]". The Western Samoa Order in Council, 1920 (11 March 1920; Statutory Rules and Orders 1920, vol 1, pp 745–746; Gazette, 21 May 1920, p 1819; 113 BFSP 18).
  11. Samoa Act 1921 (7 December 1921; 12 GEO V 1921 No 16)
  12. Pedersen, Susan (2015). The Guardians: The League of Nations and the Crisis of Empire. Oxford University Press. pp. 169–192. doi:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199570485.001.0001. ISBN 978-0-19-957048-5.
  13. "Imperialism as a Vocation: Class C Mandates". Retrieved 23 August 2011.
  14. Laracy, Hugh. "Nelson, Olaf Frederick 1883 – 1944". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 29 June 2011.
  15. "The Mau Movement" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 1 December 2007. Retrieved 27 November 2007.
  16. Field 2006.
  17. "History and migration: Who are the Samoans?". Ministry for Culture and Heritage / Te Manatū Taonga. Retrieved 27 November 2007.
  18. "New Zealand's apology to Samoa". Archived from the original on 31 March 2009. Retrieved 23 August 2011.
  19. "Prime Minister Helen Clark's Historic Apology".
  • Field, Michael (2006). Black Saturday: New Zealand's tragic blunders in Samoa. Auckland, N.Z.: Reed Publishing (NZ). ISBN 0-7900-1103-4.
  • McGibbon, Ian (2007). "The Shaping of New Zealand's War Effort, August–October 1914". In Crawford, John; McGibbon, Ian (eds.). New Zealand's Great War: New Zealand, the Allies & the First World War. Auckland, New Zealand: Exisle Publishing. pp. 49–68. ISBN 978-0-908988-85-3.
  • Smith, Stephen John (1924). The Samoa (N.Z.) Expeditionary Force 1914–1915. Wellington, New Zealand: Ferguson & Osborn. OCLC 8950668.
  • Samoa Act 1921 (12 GEO V 1921 No 16) at the New Zealand Legal Information Institute

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