Letterman: Joseph Churchward’s World of Type.”
Museums join to celebrate creativity
By Lumepa Apelu – Principal Officer Museum of Samoa

The Museum of Samoa and the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Togarewa join hands for the first time to share an exhibition, featuring a Samoan born New Zealand artist, Joseph Churchward, passed in May 2013.

The exhibition pays tribute to his remarkable contribution to the arts.

Church-ward dedicated his life to letters. ‘Hand-lettering is superior,’ his business cards proclaimed, a reflection of his belief that the subtlety of a curve could only be captured by hand.

Over six decades, Church-ward created more than 600 typefaces –
each one representing several hundred hours of work. International recognition came after the leading German company Berthold Fototype acquired a number of his fonts in the late 1960s. His playful, idiosyncratic typefaces – produced, in later years, from his Wellington home – are used around the world.

Endlessly creative, Church-ward found inspiration in his family and Samoan heritage. He remained enraptured by the possibilities of the alphabet: ‘Without letters ... we wouldn’t be able to communicate.’

Sean Mallon, senior Pacific curator of the donor museum has said that it is with great pleasure that they give this work to the people of Samoa.
Safua Akeli, the curator of the said exhibition is currently the Manager of the Postgraduate Development Studies in the National University of Samoa, and will voice more on the occasion of its launching.

The Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Education Sports and Culture, Dr Karoline Afamasaga Fuata’i will officially open the exhibition for the public in a ceremony at the Museum of Samoa, on the 26th Of February 2016.

Museum Exhibitions Are Alive
by Lumepa Apelu

So you know that the museum is a place where our old things are made mention of. You also know that part of the museum ventures is to talk about our history in the context of connecting with your eyes, ears, and heart.

In your museum, there is a story for everyone who is related directly or indirectly to our shores.

We show you through the walk into five rooms, that your culture is rich, lively and luckily for a very small island culture, strong. We also show you that the perils of today’s living are possibly cured by the intrinsic connection of our innate superb cultural inheritance, to modern challenges.

1914 fale Samoa, credit of National Library of New Zealand
When you point to the environment, natural disasters and health issues, the museum takes a look at things such as our natural resources, our resourceful people, our healers, our plenty fruits, birds, trees, in the past, and our patience for things we do not need, for example.

When you point to the rising social changes, our museum looks at our matai system, our ancient governance, the ways of communal care for the benefit of all rather than a few, and the wisdom in such ideals for an island, separated from many countries by the large ocean.

When you point to the environment, natural disasters and health issues, the museum takes a look at things such as our natural resources, our resourceful people, our healers, our plenty fruits, birds, trees, in the past, and our patience for things we do not need, for example.

When you point to the rising social changes, our museum looks at our matai system, our ancient governance, the ways of communal care for the benefit of all rather than a few, and the wisdom in such ideals for an island, separated from many countries by the large ocean.

This year has been a very mindful reach out to various influential partners. We hope that more schools will enjoy the most recent exhibition brought to us by the Auckland Museum under the directorship of Mr Roy Clare. The exhibition is valued at 140,000NZD, with the assistance of the Government of New Zealand who shipped everything to us for free.

Also in our museum exhibitions is the fale Samoa and “sennit” exhibitions which the government of USA, local artists and artisans, (Galumalemana Steve Percival, Mata’afa Autagavaia, fale builder Laufale , and overseas donors, ( Laauli Dr Francis Higginson, Philip Lair) has assisted with, valued at over 100,000USD in total if we include the conversation with New York about climate change too.

The upcoming exhibition funded solely by the Museum of New Zealand, Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington will be launched in December. Its content will be another article coming soon.

The museum is mostly about our cultural heritage. And for the heritage workers, it is a wonderful challenge to be part of the small and devoted work force these days. All over the world, heritage professionals, aim for the same reason we do, which is that, a deeper understanding of ourselves leads to enlightenment and open mindedness about challenges and what different things entail.

But we know also that the world gets smaller every day. To know ourselves only is not enough. We must also endeavour to preserve whom and what we are, for the benefit of all. So, in our humble view, no small effort is useless when it comes to promoting our cultural heritage.

A village in Japan attracts 2 million visitors per year.
Preserved for its original styled buildings.
Creativity and Museum Challenges
By Lumepa Apelu

Looking back, makes a lot of sense when you work in a museum such as ours. It is based on history and culture. The history part is tricky. We have so many artifacts, so much story to tell, but very little space. So I often think that if we want a big museum, why not use the whole country?

When we go to places like Japan for instance to look at how they conserve their heritage, you find whole villages being part of the scheme of preservation, where townspeople make a living from restaurants, gift shops, touristy things that are both pleasing to the eyes, clean and cosy.

Here on our homeland, I wonder sometimes if we could the same. It permeates a culture of pride and humility, when we are true to our beginnings. I guess as a museum or heritage worker, it is a big challenge to implement such ideas when there is no money to use to prove a point.

But we try to partner with museums and institutions overseas, whom are kind enough to understand the need to develop and continue promoting our purposes. The partnerships we form internally, meaning inside our country, is a little scattered like star dusts in the sky of preservation but I guess we can hope to hope that we will get there. 
Sometimes, if we compare the value of a mat for instance, and the prize it takes to weave it, then couple that with the worry of a faalavelave and the meagre frustration for school fees and food things, the mat is valued at perhaps minus zero important. But when we consider the meaning of the mat, the resources it required to make it, the skills that strengthen the hands of the weavers, and the avalanche of opportunities that prevail from a persistence towards the making of mats, we can up its value to wealth and well being of a community. The same can go towards the art of fale making. Trees would be made to grow again for the sake of fale building, and more and more people would enjoy the mindful caretaking of an environment that would support them financially and morally.

Needless to say, not one institution has all the answers to our perils these days. Everyone plays a part in making a good difference. So the point of this article, is to revitalize the meaning of the museum collection and what it stands for. It also looks indirectly at a visionary influence for a thriving community.

There is currently a new exhibition in the museum, donated wholly to our country by the Auckland War Memorial Museum, with the assistance of the New Zealand High Commission, and the University of Auckland. Director Roy Clare for the said museum is so excited that he wants to give us another exhibition, a more modern one, in the near future. I believe like Martin Luther King believes, and more accurately, as Tamasese Meaole indicated, that peace is to reign, as would the suffering of getting there would be appreciated and held high in our minds.

If I ponder on intentions and good will, I think about one discoverer of our islands, who wrote many years ago, that Samoans are an intelligent race. A blessed week to all. God speed.

Conservation of Cultural Heritage Deeper Meanings
By Lumepa Apelu
Continuing on the one month training in Conservation of Cultural Heritage, the Japanese government, ICCROM and ACCU, extend the training into talks about natural disasters and the importance of cultural heritage in the scheme of revival of the human spirit during hardships.

When the tsunami hit Japan in 2011, several people and families, suffered psychological issues. Many couples divorced as a result of the tsunami because fathers left their duty to look after the family, from the hopelessness of beginning life again. Children suffered too from the loss of models and happiness in the home. If you and I think back, the tsunami of Samoa, had similar challenges. And if we think of the human spirit, many people recovered slowly but with the help of communal participation. That said, our well being, is in our togetherness.

In Japan, the heritage conservationists immediately reacted to finding out all the damaged buildings and chances of restoring them. The realization that cultural heritage offers hope to the spirit of a people is what makes such work important to the conservationist. In a country such as Japan where temples and shrines are places of calm and community strengthening, the sites have become national heritages. They date back to centuries of existence. Some of the oldest buildings in the world are preserved in Japan. Needless to say, laws, regulations and policies made to protect these buildings and other cultural heritages are very well placed in the society.

Photo by Lumepa Apelu: At a shrine in Nara, offerings to the gods,
“ Good life, ever happy.”
Much importance is given to the owners or custodians of the cultural heritage. This means, in Samoa, weavers and carvers, fale builders and sennit weavers would be well funded to preserve their art and also placed in sustainable income making businesses that promotes the art to younger generations and also allows for making a living.

Attracting the next generation is as much a challenge in Japan as it is in Samoa. Young people prefer the easy life, from the life in the plantation, the life of growing trees to source the fale building, of building canoes to go out fishing, or weaving mats to exchange for other mats instead of the canned herrings and “pisupo”. The same story happens in big countries like China.

The questions to be posed, are simple. How much do we spend on treasuring the past and what part of it is actually investing in the future? More importantly, where are we hoping to land in the future? Such questions are open to the general public, not just the people working in museums, cultural institutions, art galleries, universities, no. These are really questions for the community at large. The community should include mostly the rural areas in Samoa, where the focus of strength is directed in the seating of matais, and their honorary ruling. Much emphasis lies on their shoulders. Those are the pillars given to us by our ancestors which seem a bit rusty these days if we collect the chaos in daily living. But change is inevitable in any society. What I may find rusty could be the cleansing of old to something adorably new and fitting to what we need to move with to the future, and in these challenging times, necessary.

The interlinking of practicality with meaning is an ever attractive feature of the cultural heritage phenomenon to me as an individual. I find that in it, we are wholesome people, not just workers, making a buck or two to take home. I find that it is impossible to defeat one’s identity as a world citizen in such a setting. People from all over the world with various expertise come together to discuss the well being of their own, by looking back and appreciating their own place of birth, rather than compare it. We do not choose where we were born, but we can definitely choose where we belong. So far, I belong with the hope you have in your eyes. “Good life, ever happy.”
God bless Samoa.

Entangled Islands Exhibition which came from Auckland Museum to the Museum of Samoa: Auckland War Memorial Museum photo.
Open Letter for The Entangled Islands Exhibition
By Lumepa Apelu

The Museum of Samoa is ever pressing for promoting what it humbly holds in the century aged old building in Malifa. Guests arriving from overseas, or those local advocates, who were born and somewhat raised here remember going to school in the compound we now are housed in.

As museum worker we are taken back through the years, and through the guests’ eyes, the magnificent simplicity of the past. But this article is partly individual and mostly universal for the heart we share is the same when it comes to pride in our living culture, our country.

History as you know is museum knowledge as poetry is to the heart of literature. May we thus introduce to you through this open letter an extended invitation to a recently launched exhibition, donated by the Auckland Museum, NZ and with the help of the New Zealand High Commission to Samoa.

The Exhibition is both historical and the largest exhibition donated to your Museum through the love and support of its mentioned partners. Dated as early as the 1800s and up till now, the exhibition covers wide and large the journey of Samoa and New Zealand. It touches the heart through personal stories shared by individuals who lived and survived through the sorrowful, and happy times altogether. Open to your interpretation, and your additional stories, we welcome you to visit the Museum and contribute what you can to our historical experiences.

Museums for a Sustainable Society
By Lumepa Apelu

Raising awareness on the importance of our Samoan culture is a major museum objective.   

The Museum of Samoa is a cultural institution focused on history, the fa’a-Samoa, documenting and exhibiting colonial, pre-history and modern times, as well as other Pacific island cultures. A hefty task reliable first and foremost on persistence and dedication, the museum team and volunteers are ever mindful of their audiences near and far.

Museums all over the world will celebrate the important role of museums around the 18th of May 2015.

This year’s theme for the event will be Museums for a sustainable society. It highlights the role of museums in raising public awareness about the need for a society that is less wasteful, more cooperative and that uses resources in a way that respects living systems.

Group of children at Safune, Savai'i, Western Samoa,
photographed in the 
1900s by Alfred John Tattersall.
Note the whaleboats in the background.
ICOM (International Community of Museums) President, Prof. Dr Hans‐Martin Hinz, adds:

“Museums, as educators and cultural mediators, are adopting an increasingly vital role in contributing to the definition and implementation of sustainable development and practices. Museums must be able to guarantee their role in safeguarding cultural heritage, given the increasing precariousness of ecosystems, situations of political instability, and the associated natural and man‐made challenges that may arise. Museum work, through education and exhibitions for example, should strive to create a sustainable society.

We must do everything we can to ensure that museums are part of the cultural driving force for the sustainable development of the world.”

Working together as a community is ever the Samoan way of life. The museum has relied heavily on partners and individuals to enhance its collections and programs. There has been a rise in donors by way of artifacts to the museum. The museum is ever grateful to such advocates for their love of Samoa and Samoans is depicted by honoring the current and future generations with such generosity.

Fortunate to our shores also is the notion that giving is part of our culture. The museum stands to not only remind with gratitude but to also embrace such intentions from advocates of culture and art near and far. The act of giving is contagious as you will see when we write more about the kind of people who are generously helping the museum this year.

From a museum perspective, and when sitting around a table with other museum promoters, it is realized that “Our gift is in whom we are and what we stand for.”

Ensuring that the Samoan way of life and values are permeated to inspire our audiences in their fields of interest, the museum seeks and continues to enhance with enthusiasm its partnerships with local and overseas artists, artisans, institutions, and community cultural workers through educational workshops, museum tours and talks, as well as exhibitions.

As reflection: Last year the mural that was painted on the museum during the SIDS conference by overseas and local artists is credited to the Conservation International, a non-profit organization making a difference in environmental issues and perils.

The photo in this article reflects one of the images we have on the museum face-book page this month and which has gained much attention from the viewers. We look forward to a year of cultural and artistic enrichment. Thank you Samoa and God bless.

Photo By Phillipe Lair for the Museum of Samoa exhibition
A fale Samoa exhibition in the Museum of Samoa
By Lumepa Apelu

The Museum of Samoa has recently launched an exhibition on the fale Samoa. Photos were donated to your museum by French architect-photographer, Philippe Lair, who was photographer and illustrator of the Fale Samoa book published by UNESCO Office of the Pacific States. The book is authored by the first director of
the said office, Laauli Dr. Francis L Higginson.

The Fale Samoa exhibition is an inspiration of the industrial nature of Samoans. From carving, weaving, building and designing, the fale Samoa highlights the innate creativity of Samoans. It also touches on the concepts of conservation and community efforts.
The Fale Samoa exhibition is an inspiration of the industrial nature of Samoans. From carving, weaving, building and designing, the fale Samoa highlights the innate creativity of Samoans. It also touches on the concepts of conservation and community efforts.

The exhibition also is an extension of the climate change project with the American Museum of Natural History where both museums reflected on the notion of home and the impact of hazardous weather towards displacement, community strengths or weaknesses and future recommendations on home designs. An exchange of cultures and experiences was taken to heart by its participants. The fale Samoa model for the exhibition we now write about was made possible through this partnership.

While it is unfortunate that the art of fale building is not prevalent in our modernized society, there is still hope because not all the builder’s knowledge is lost. If you ponder as an individual the beauty of a fale Samoa, safety and strength of community aside, you too can appreciate the essence of the exhibition I write about here.

According to the tufuga, Laufale, the art of building is handed down to his sons through projects they are called to do. Laufale has also led a team into getting accredited by the Samoa Qualification Association. I realize also as I learn from the needs of the museums and the struggles of empowering practitioners that lifting the profile of traditionally skilled professionals is encouraging and pressing considering the art we talk about.

From the windows of the museum work things I have come to realize, that without a deep connection with our traditional practitioners, we have very little fortune at promoting our own culture in the museum. Promotion as you know is lasting if heartfelt. I hope that this article has also stated in so many words that our culture is nothing but resourceful.

Laufale is a matai in his sixties from the village of Sa’anapu. He is the tufuga of many fales and also the builder for the fale Samoa model in the museum. To him we credit much of our respect for the fale Samoa exhibition as he is one of few practitioners who is still building and still sharing his knowledge with his sons. Practitioners like Laufale are rare these days. The exhibition is housed in the same room as the sennit exhibition held late last year for the sake of keeping the same and continuing story in one space. God speed you on, Samoa.

Photo: Museum of Samoa Sept 2014
Shifting Paradigm: Sa’anapu Village  in Museum of Samoa
By Lumepa Apelu

When the tsunami of 2009 hit Samoa by surprise and before the shock that put her into a state of utter disbelief, many people fell apart from the loss of their loved ones. But many more survivors regained their strength with the help of the community that came together, much like the spirit of SIDS in holding Samoa and of course Samoans up high.

The exhibition held at the Museum of Samoa, curated by architect, Cecile Bonnifait of the Atelier workshop brings to light and sound many voices of the people of Sa’anapu regarding the relocation, or the need thereof of the preschool, the graves of families, the fale tele, and well, the community, in case of future environmental disasters.
Climate change discussions world-wide came in good time for the exhibition to be hoisted a flag, as it was made a Parallel event thanks to the SIDS organizers. More importantly, it turned a light on for the villagers and their candle lit story of the tsunami wave that changed their lives in one day. Preschoolers were saved by the mangroves which held off, like a protective coat, the wrath of the breaking waves. The exhibition proposes the need for the preschool to move to highlands as the current preschool is not well attended due to fear for life, and understandably so. The mangroves and their caretaking is also highlighted in this exhibition, as it is a source of life to the villagers of Sa’anapu if we think of the water catchments and water itself, of food eaten and sold at markets by the villagers. The good news for the village and for the curators involved is that many donors were/are attracted to the theme of the exhibition, “Managing Risk for Adapted and Considerate Architecture in Samoa, “ fancy words for rethinking home due to climate change and natural disaster impacts to Samoan villages.

The reverend from EFKS Sa’anapu Tai, Iakina Alefaio spoke of his experience in the tsunami and blessed the exhibition with words of praise for the curatorial team and the Ministry of Education Sports and Culture. The chief executive officer of the Ministry of Education Sports and Culture, Matafeo Falana’ipupu Tanielu Aiafi, gave the key note address in which he supported the partnership with the said team and emphasized the importance of engaging of the village community in such an important time for Samoa’s hosting of the SIDS conference. High chief Anapu Aiali’i, spoke for the village of Sa’anapu and its support of the exhibition and what it represents for the survivors of the tsunami and the meanings it carries for their loved ones. He also congratulated the Museum and the curators from France and New Zealand for the endeavor to assist the village. The ambassador of France to New Zealand, Mr Montini, was inspired by the exhibition and spoke of his full support and enthusiasm towards the project. He also stated that he will do as much as he can and wherever he can to seek funding to help with the project’s full realization of helping the Sa’anapu villagers recovery from the tsunami of 2009. Vaimasenu’u Zita Martel, honorary consul of the embassy of France to Samoa was the elegant master of ceremony.

While the exhibition will be showcased till October 2014, the museum is working towards bringing the preschool and primary level students from Sa’anapu to visit the exhibition and to gain insight of the museum collection.

The museum reflects on Samoa’s hidden abundance
By Lumepa Apelu

When you look out into the seas of Samoa today, the random canoe makes a small journey to the reef and back for fish or maybe the delivery of a tourist to snorkel. In our not so long ago years, when canoes were more abundant as fruits on trees, the carrying of goods such as food and trading tools were commonly done on canoes and between islands near and far, rather than motor vehicles or airplanes.

The image we see here is touched by the modern influence of nothing more than an umbrella and the clothes on the gentleman’s back. When I look at it, I sense the arrival of missionaries, the loud noise of airplanes in the World Wars, the crack of the sky in the cyclone of 1889 and the turning over of the Adler warship on our shorefronts. All those things and much more I think of, in one picture from our simple days in the past. And as we also look onto the upcoming SIDS conference, such a difference makes a humble person like me want to sit down to reflect.

1938: Alexander Turnbull Library photo, unknown photographer
The wooden and creaky steps on the museum are old as much as I am twice as young towards them. But they feel like they have been waiting for us, our children, our families, our overseas friends and strangers to befriend the age from which they were made. They seem to beckon the heart of a bystander to walk into the realms of a different sphere of existence from the same genealogy that made an intelligent race, a modest kind of people and a happy one too. If you have not guessed, I am talking about ours. When you step back from our time and look at us like an eagle from the sky, you may see through our hearts the beautiful things we were made from. But the museum has such a view in spades.

If we consider the journey from which we came, and the road on which we tread, the people we lost along the way, and those we made heroes as they made us brave all the same, we have to pat each other’s shoulder blades and make a silent prayer to our heavens. We are made to remember the foundation of our nation, being that God is the utmost achievement we rise to.

The Museum of Samoa will host with local and overseas partners, exhibitions and workshops during the SIDS period to reflect on the importance of our ‘harmonious’ existence with the environment.

May you have a peaceful and enriching week. God bless.

Alexander Turnbull Library – View of Apia and Apia Harbour, Western Samoa, Photographed by Alfred John Tattersall in about 1905.
Two four masted schooners are in the view.
Samoa and Its Story
By Lumepa Apelu

Heroism, wars, struggle, strength, lush forests and beauty are some of the moments of our growth through our history and what the museum takes note of with respect to our traditions, moral values and way of life.

“Samoa and its story,” is the title of a book published by New Zealand to extend the story of Samoa from German rule to New Zealand captivity and occupation. It gives a detailed account of the lush environment of Samoa among other things. Interestingly it mentioned abundance as follows:

 “Everywhere the bush and the fruit-plantation; the coconut palm groves along the coast and inland furring the ranges, the wild timber, large and small. All twisted and twined with shrubs and lianes, in a true tropical profusion of jungly intricacy. Every kind of fruit grows here, - coconut, bananas, breadfruit, granadillas, “ mummy apples”, oranges, mangoes, custard apples, limes, pineapples, the sweet potato, the taro and the yam are raised in great quantities, and vegetable from temperate climes are successfully cultivated…”
And of heroism and wealth, it said, “Manono was known for its warriors and was rich in food supplies. “

Of fame it stated, “Savaii was famous for its great volcano at the time.”

Of courage it read, “ It was on that beach ( Apia) in the height of gale ( 1889 cyclone) that the brave Samoans, friends and foes alike, burying the hatchet, rushed into the surf to rescue the perishing Germans and Americans, and it was the chief of Apia, Seumanutafa, who especially distinguished himself by his chivalrous humanity and courage.”

And of the population it reported that, “The Samoans then numbered about 35,000. “

The author was correct if we look at Samoa now, “ …the Samoans were not dying out.”

The picture above is one taken in 1905 and is our current face-book image of the week.

Meanwhile, the museum continues to prepare for exhibitions during the SIDS conference. Meanwhile, there are plenty memories to reflect on as we make our way towards highlighting the importance of our environment, our cultural heritage and partnerships with our friends near and far.

With that we leave you with humble blessings for this week. God speed.

Museum of Samoa : Pearls and Passion in Samoans
By Lumepa Apelu 

Another week of research is passing us by. The museum reminds of our past and its precious lessons and gifts for our modern journey.
If you are wondering, the museum is on a quest to showcase our history, culture and share dialogue on important issues such as climate change, voyaging and the fading arts of Samoa, through exhibitions and workshops, during the upcoming SIDS conference.

The museum is working diligently to make connections through its collection and research with individuals, artists, artisans, academics, tourists, students, children, and anyone who has walked into its rooms at Malifa with little expectation of a giant presence of our own amazing history.

A note: This week, Marie Quinn, a total stranger to the museum, came for two days from New Zealand to just look at Ewald Kopp’s last visit here. Ewald if you can recall is the German descendant of one Graf family who were deported from Samoa after New Zealand took over the reigns, but never forgot Samoa as a loving place.

The feeling of a home away from home is one that Samoa has sustained through its existence in the wide Pacific ocean, unique and memorable. This to say that while we have a small collection compared to our museum partners overseas, the fact that the museum of Samoa is in the heart of Samoa, makes our museum a pearl in the ocean of Museums all over.

Photo by Alfred Tattersall, photographer. Ref: Alexander Turnbull Library NZ
But the museum of Samoa this week reflects on the romantic description by Robert Louise Stevenson, our renowned Tusitala of some of Samoa’s way of life in the 1890s.

"Fine dress is a passion, and makes a Samoan festival a thing of beauty. Song is almost ceaseless. The boatman sings at the oar, the family at evening worship, the girls at night in the guest-house, sometimes the workman at his toil. No occasion is too small for the poets and musicians; a death, a visit, the day’s news, the day’s pleasantry, will be set to rhyme and harmony. Even half-grown girls, the occasion arising, fashion words and train choruses of children for its celebration. Song, as with all Pacific islanders, goes hand in hand with the dance, and both shade into the drama. Some of the performances are indecent and ugly, some only dull; others are pretty, funny, and attractive. Games are popular. Cricket-matches, where a hundred played upon a side, endured at times for weeks, and ate up the country like the presence of an army. Fishing, the daily bath, flirtation; courtship, which is gone upon by proxy; conversation, which is largely political; and the delights of public oratory, fill in the long hours." Robert Louis Stevenson.

The image shown is our current face-book picture of the week. Many visitors of the page continue dialogue with us as they too bring up some of their historical photos. The beauty of our culture is inherent in whom we are.

The love of learning and getting to know our roots is what the museum also embraces.

May you have a splendid week,

Christiane Niggemann Collection of Otto Tetens photos – for the Museum of Samoa
An open letter: The Museum builds on Exhibitions
By Lumepa Apelu

Dear reader, I understand the need for a stick to your mind if not bedside note to put by the side of your mattress, if not a mat as you lay down to end the subject of a daily life worth living. So here is but a short reflection of your past and mine made glorious. Images from our past are rare, so riveting. Each one comes alive as pictures do say a thousand words. For the museum it says a million pearls since our generation and one before us have scattered across the globe in many countries and yes with many voices, Samoan in all of them too.

Did you know that we have a very special collection of Otto Tetens photos in the museum? Well, we do and Mr Neggemann and his good wife had contributed to its eventuation. An exhibition was held in 2004 in Germany and then 2005 in our museum to commemorate the phenomenal collection. Yes I agree, a milestone indeed for the museum of our people.
For staring at a photograph can be a life changing experience, I must say. The museum has these photos that chase our dreams to the clouds and look upon us with a sense of humor at times. It seems we were designated to be here all along. Mata’afa and Lauaki standing alongside some of our prominent chiefs are shown in this world premiere image. The museum is the first to showcase it on our very own face-book page this week. I realize it is indeed a great thing, this technology upgrade of communication we now enjoy between a heart-beat and a flick of a mouse to like an image or something someone says on facebook. It connects so many of us, through our heritage too.

But a word on Otto Tetens and his own boat or shall I say va’aalo journey on our shores. He stayed in Samoa from 1902 to 1905 where he founded the Apia Observatory in June 1902. A scientist he was and an advocate of the fa’a Samoa too. He built samoan fales to house himself and his staff, not the wooden German buildings like the one the museum is housed in now. Something about Otto Tetens is amazing too. But more of him and his collection coming soon for all of you.

For now, a profound and heart-felt tribute to our past and to the people who made us who we are today. God speed.

( also published in the Samoa Observer on 19th June 2014)

Dr Newell with some of the participants of the workshop in the Museum of Samoa
AMNH photo
Samoa hosts American Group

In New York on Staten Island, affected badly by cyclone Sandy, many people lost their homes. Said one affected member, “I’m done,” declared a heartbroken Joe Monte, a city worker who has lived for 22 years on Fox Beach Ave. “I can’t handle it no more. I can’t go near this home. I can’t see this home. It’s affected my family. Just get us out of there. I want to feel normal again.”

Meanwhile in Samoa one of our NUS students said, “The worst thing that scares me about climate change is losing my loved ones, being helpless, not knowing how to cope.”

The Ministry of Education Sports and Culture is hosting the American Museum of Natural History team for the second time in the Museum of Samoa. A year-long project called – “Rethinking Home: Cultural impacts of Climate Change, Linking Samoa and New York” is a joint museum initiative that connects the two communities in sharing experiences of climate change. This week they are holding workshops where dialogue amongst participants is based on the notion of home, and the impacts of climate change to our cultures.

The AMNH team is made up of Pacific Ethnology assistant curator Dr Jennifer Newell, curatorial associate Jacklyn Lacey, Global Kids ambassador Maya Faison and Staten Island activist Leila Rassi. The first workshop began Tuesday and was attended by more than one dozen students of the National University of Samoa, most of whom are majoring in the Environmental Sciences. The Head of Science Department, Faainu Latu was one of the participants who attended a workshop in New York City at the invitations of American Museum of Natural History. He was accompanied by a museum volunteer and lecturer of NUS, Ms Dionne Fonoti. The first two Samoan participants to attend a conference on “Collecting the Future; Museums Connect communities” and workshops for the said project in New York were Mata’afa Autagavaia  (Culture specialist) and Lumepa Apelu of the Museum of Samoa.

Underwritten by a grant of 150,000USD awarded by the US State Department’s  Bureau of Education and Culture in association with the American Alliance of Museums, the project has enabled the production of a samoan fale teaching model for the Museum of Samoa, travel of participants to the focus communities and conducting of workshops where local professionals and community members have been invited to present or participate. A publication will be tribute to all the participants of the workshop, in Samoa and New York. A video tape of the workshop will be available in the Museum and added to its large collection of audiovisual materials for the visitors and students at the museum. Support from the US Embassy of Samoa, was seminal. Including in the arrangement of a video conference between the project groups in New York and Samoa conducted on the Embassy premises and received with gratitude.

Apelu, Newell and Lacey the coordinators of the project agree that the workshop had enlightened not only the museum professionals but the community participants as well. Many thoughts had been shared across cultures. It is thus in their plan to continue dialogue for more potential projects ahead.  The exhibition for the fale Samoa will be advertised once the photos from a donor from Paris, Phillipe Lair, arrive in a couple of weeks. For now, the two museums are celebrating the conclusion of workshops and the success of the project on Thursday at the Museum of Samoa at 5:30pm, where all are welcome to attend.

Photo: Alexander Turnbull Library,
6 Mau supporters coming out of the bush for a meeting of members
Their tears touched the sea
By Lumepa Apelu
When it rains in Samoa, I think the sky is crying. But I have seen other skies in this world, and I have come to realize that I love the sky of Samoa just as I do poetry and music. Something in it whispers of sweet things, of faith and the rewards it brings for hanging onto hope all the while. White lights, fresh air, calm seas and pure hearts emanate the same thing as does the sky suspended above our heads. If the sky should somehow fall, I quietly believe, we will be fine. For if you think we do not hold up this sky, then may I dare ask, who does?

But the celebration of our independence is a climb worth jumping for, isn’t it? The birds we wake up to, the shining sun at times and the rain, I have felt them rejoicing lately. I saw some of our children dancing in the rain as I passed by Solosolo village this morning. When I think back to those children and our freedom, I wish I was kissing the lips of rain as I write this.
The photo of a fale Samoa, with his Samoan staff in it, by Otto Tetens in 1870, is my front seat picture in the museum. It whispers of a long ago time when we were not here. It reminds of simple things that meant more than we hardly have time to think. When you look at the physique of Samoans in those days, they looked like movie stars. Move a century forward, and we know Hollywood spends a lot of money to build muscles for their super idols.

But our own stars before us, were real people trying to unite a country and to protect it too. The wealth they made are living or trying to, in all of us. They gained us a flag that we celebrate along with other gifts we enjoy today. The journey, as you know, was a long winded walk in the storms. Some of them, including children, died along the wretched way. But like the entwining of hands in the fire, the baton was lovingly passed along, not doubting that freedom is made of love only.

But I remember the times of independence celebrations as I was growing up a child in our country, not too many years ago. I recall the nerve breaking thought of reaching the front of the Cabinet members, the thrill of seeing the wave from a starry eyed Head of State, and the long walk that always seemed like we were treading lightly as sunrays on clouds. If there was noise, they may have turned to giggles and music in my mind. But when we marched, I thought the trees were bowing to every Samoan, and when we passed them, the flowers stood tall, fixed their disposition, and one by one, bloomed. Such a glory, I quietly believe, is endowed upon all of us during our independence day.

But take a stroll to the 1900s with me. There lie the marches during the Mau movement. Ponder the hopes in our forefathers’ hearts and how they did not hide them from the sun nor the rain. Think of their private meetings in Mulinu’u and what food was served them, if any. Do you wonder as I, if they were given a walk fare back to the bush where they had to hide, or was pride and love for them reward enough? But look at us now, and wonder if in this life we sometimes carelessly live, that we march for ourselves and then for whom? Do we stand tall as our flowers do or do we wither like the shame of the worm in the ground?

But a delightful gift like a bird message was delivered to the museum on a CD containing photos of the old Cathedral in Apia. Robert Louis Stevenson once wrote that mankind was never so happily inspired as when it made a cathedral. A cathedral in my own modest view, is like art made from angels. When I look at one, I sense the touch of God through the clouds. Cathedrals, churches and temples are like our country’s independence to the soul, uplifting. But I admit, when all the noise is done, I prefer to sit in a church alone.

While we celebrate the independence of our beloved country this week, and we hail the skies for the rise of a new cathedral in our times, may the rain remind you that behind those clouds, the sun sits and smiles at us. It is as sure as a blue sky smiling upon our glorious past. While we hold up the sky these days, I hope that we spare a moment to whisper a thank you to the heroes of our past, for the tears they shed did reach the sea, where we now celebrate with delight in our hearts the colour of the rainbows in our free and peaceful skies.

Photo: Alexander Turnbull Library, taken in 1900, James Tattersall
Samoan Ne’I Galo School festival

"A quality holistic education system that recognizes and realizes the spiritual, cultural, Intellectual and physical potential of all participants, enabling them to make fulfilling life choices."

In light of the endowed vision for the Ministry of Education Sports and Culture, our children are rising to the challenge of creating their own stories and thematic performances in the coming month in a competition that will ignite the fire of national pride in each Samoan.
The Ministry of Education Sports and Culture, on a mission to promote culture through education, takes on the exciting venture of a cultural festival for secondary schools this year. Entitled, “Sama ne’i galo festival”, ( Lest we forget Samoa) the name leaps to the occasion of cultural pride and festivities. Dance, oratory speeches, and drama will be the main attractions for the competition among fired up secondary school students. 

So far eleven schools have been confirmed to participate while we await further schools to register.

The primary objectives for the festival are to:

1.    Provide a platform for young people to engage in traditional and contemporary cultural expressions,
2.    Enhance culture awareness, respect and understanding of Samoan culture, and practices among Samoan youth
3.    Mainstream cultural heritage as part of national development initiatives

The open festival is the start of an annual event of similar activities for the Ministry of Education Sports and Culture. The Chief Executive Officer for the Ministry of Education Sports and Culture, Matafeo Falana’ipupu Tanielu Aiafi, has said that the festival is an inspiring event for students to enjoy and remember for years to come. The development of art and culture is in line with this festival.

Taking on board the assistance from businesses in the community as well as its stakeholder development partners, the Ministry hopes to produce a successful and memorable festival to kick off a dynamic run of the special event this year.

[Nynette Sass – 19 May 2014]

Talofa lava Ladies and Gentlemen
As you have noted from my age, I am quite ancient and I could also refer to myself as a museum… well preserved and housing my history! Lol!

First off, faafetai tele Lumepa for the invitation to present today on what some of the museum collections mean to me. I note the theme of this year’s international museum day is “Museum collections make connections”. The recollections I will share are very much a personal one.

Here is the first connection that I wish to share with you, as it has great significance to me. This very building, housing the museum, was where our Standard two class, taught by the late Mrs. Annie Meredith, was housed and outside in the open verandah was my first experience of moving images in the form of “ Tarzan and Jane”.
Furthermore, downstairs was the staff room. I use to spend a lot of time there as one of the trusted students preparing elegi and cucumber sandwiches for the teachers morning tea. I must have been damn good because I was constantly asked back. The funpart of doing the morning teas, was that I got to skip some of the classes!! That was usually, Samoan! I was also allowed out of the gate to go to the shop to buy the elegi or sugar, bread and tea which made me feel very special!

I was a lucky student, as I was one of the few favourite students of the teachers, not only for my academic achievements, but was prominent due to my acting prowessThe acting abilities would come in quite handy later on in life as an adult student.
Needless to say, the closest I came to that was acting at the Wellington Repertory society and a lead role at Wellington East Girls College annual musical production. I also won the producer and director for the winning production at my college then.
How is that for a first connection to the museum!

Fast forward to today, the age of the internet, the fast & furious connectivity of communication and information access … at your fingertips if u may.

Just stepping back for a quick reflection on the way things were, the very simple act of connectivity then, that is fast becoming obsolete  - a few weeks ago, since several years, I went to the post office to post a document to my son in Australia and I came away, with a sense of melancholy. I started to feel teary eyed–thinking about the joy of that simple act of posting or receiving a letter or a parcel. It reminded me so deeply of my late granny, in her late years,  when she would religiously check her mail, daily,  in the hope of receiving a letter, a connection to her children who resided overseas. Simple as it may be, it was a very important event for a lot of people I knew .It  is part of my history!
And to think, that now, at the click of a mouse, we can connect to anyone, anywhere at any time!

I don’t know how many of you have facebook and twitter accounts to name the most popular social media platforms at the moment.. but I would hazard a guess and say that probably the majority in here today do have facebook accounts. Social media has brought about increased glocal connectivity. The connections enable us to keep up with families and friends as well as learn about what other exciting and interesting things are happening around us.

We are all creating and sharing our respective histories online and the internet cookie trails of our lives are left behind for others to follow and reminisce over, when we are well and truly gone!

So, whilst browsing through FB one day, I came across the Museum’s collection of black and white images of Apia! Here is another connection to the museum and I interacted merrily, reflecting on the images and sharing them on my page so others could also see these historical images. Naturally, this brought a flood of wonderful childhood memories and a yearning for a time that now seems so ancient and yet so beautiful, in its simplicity and peaceful pace of life.

One of the images that really hit me was the old Tivoli Theatre! So many funny and naughty memories came flashing back… needless to say, I will not be sharing all of those memories with you as I was a good girl then, according to my grandmother 

The Tivoli theatre reminded me of my coming of age as a teenager and the start of epic productions I used to produce for my half chinese grandmother, who was adamant that movies were evil and will corrupt good, young girls. Heavens forbid!  As I said earlier, I became quite the accomplished actress at a very young age… ok, so with a few white lies thrown in there for dramatic effect lol. Seriously, to get permission to go to the movies, was quite an undertaking then. It also required or was that coercing older cousins who unknowingly, agreed to support my pleas to the gatekeeper to allow me to go to the movies.

In the end, good old Shakespeare won out and I was permitted to go to the theatre to see Romeo and Juliette, (because we were studying it, and the teacher insisted that we must see it, and write a report about our observations of it, because our marks depended on it …. you see how important it is to go see this movie granny!! My English grade depended on it!!)

Needless to say, I couldn’t get the theme song out of my head – Jame’s Bond’s “live and let die” when I came home! Awesome movie!
Ahhh education was good for something else!

The flood of memories came back thanks to the museums collection of photos!
I am currently a member of an NGO called “Samoa for Real”. SFR  believe in the sharing of genuine Samoan experiences with the “conscience travellers” as well as our own diaspora who are yearning for an authentic experience. The conscience traveller is usually educated, feels a great sense responsibility and care of nature, of people and their culture, humanity in general, the physical environment and they have, the disposable income.

These visitors want to interact directly with a people and their culture, learn about their heritage and contribute in some form to the preservation of all. So whilst the public can travel and experience the living culture in real time, history, can only be found in a museum or some other private collections which may not be readily accessible to the public.

To me, museums encapsulate our lives as a people and culture at any given moment in time. Museums host those visible connections to our past and bears witness to our evolvement as a people and race.

Museums, carer of the old, mixes well with the internet to promote the cultures and invite visitors alike to experience a living culture in situ as well as learn of the history that has been.

Museums play a vital role in the visitor economy by show-casing and sharing the tangible connections to our past!
 I believe we can all contribute to promoting our museum, through actively sharing the information online and encouraging others to visit and appreciate our journey as a people. Encourage your families to bring your children to visit for in learning about the past, we can improve on the future.

Lastly, my sincere congratulations to Lumepa, the MoS, Mr. CEO and MESC for passionately, reconnecting us to our past, providing opportunities to reflect and appreciate our history.

I also wish to applaud your efforts in adopting modern technology to raise awareness of our history and encouraging a journey of re-discovery and reflection, with ease, for all of us, from anywhere in the world.

Museum Talks - May 19,2014 , 3pm  - see  invitation and speaker bios

Tattersall, Alfred James, 1866-1951. Apia waterfront, Samoa. Ref: 1/2-022291-F.
Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.
When we remember ourselves!
By Lumepa Apelu

Like the hold of sand in the palm of our hands, many things pass through our fingers but some are not easy to let go of, in this life. Unlike the old shoes  and worn out clothes we wear, the creaky cars we decorate and the broken homes we ornate, we have to accept despite our seeming bravery that to some bigger things we are attached as hours do cling to days. And sometimes without our knowing, we are made to look back and appreciate the things we lost.

The Museum of Samoa tries its best to remind us that there in our past, lie
many things we can treasure and adore to the point of pure bliss. So when I look at the single-tyre cyclist with an umbrella in this image, (it’s on our FB as well) I too wish I was there paddling alongside the  un-cemented sidewalk, watching the fautasi vessels lying majestically on the pristine and quiet waters, with only shadows of clouds not the noise of airplanes covering some parts of the island.
I would have shaken the shrubs’ branches like a child does to a puppy, because when I came into this world, those shrubs were large trees with loud birds living inside their leaves. The birds’ playful chirping still echoes in my head.

Yet I don’t hear the drop of a pin when I giggle because this divine thing we call an imagination has no button for reality checks. I cannot ride a bi-cycle, let alone a mono-cycle. I would also be complaining under my breath about the heat of the sun while I may with all my weight run into the poor guy wearing a shirt-brella as I zig-zag along in my selfish looking transport. And despite the presence of airplanes and big trucks, I only heard the sound of rain clouds this morning when I passed by Ulutogia where the brutal murder of two men occurred just down the road from where I live. “Oh bear upon me the sadness of the forests so I can carry their deep burden over the things they quietly see.” These words I write in my mind when I reflect on the horror of such sad stories.

I realize now that it is not easy or useful to separate the museum, from daily
life because the museum is just about that but in a collective kind of way. And with the slight turn of my head I look straight into the hearts of people who lived here many years ago – and the wonder of their own daily lives moves me. There is reason to believe that some of the museum possessions can ignite the stars in our hearts to take flight and make brighter the dark skies of our time.

While pre-history partially means to the museum that we are preserving stone
adzes and patterned rocks, I wonder if our own lives mean that we leave behind plain plastic and broken bottles in the sand. Yes, the question of our eternal existence is persistent in the works of the museum. From prehistory to colonial years to our modern scare of climate change, social changes and development, the museum paces its own life alongside the human proofs of being a Samoan. The color of our history is as you know remarkable. It makes the current problems
become part of a journey that we can optimistically predict will make a better people become their best. Such are the effects of the pearls we find in our past.

But the coming week for the museum looks into the power of poetry through the voice of our own established poet Reverend Ruperake Petaia, and upon our cultural heritage, our own historian Dr Malama Meleisea will spare some of his riches to share with our guests. Meanwhile a brief gaze into the science of climate change will be taken to the screen by Dr Faainu Latu of NUS’s Science Department. With the oncoming challenges of our modern lives, the museum tries to look at all disciplines for answers that will leave an audience uplifted and inspired. So I end this article with the humble thought that as a Samoan, I believe that precious knowledge because of God, is inherent everywhere.

For now, may you have a pleasant day Samoa - God speed.

Museum joins Environment perils dialogue
By Museum of Samoa

In a time where the lack of water or food are not the ONLY signs for drought, the Museum of Samoa keeps itself in the loop of knowledge through networks and partnerships to enhance further its purposes of attaining to what is relevant to our cultural heritage.

The sunset of the Anthropocene looks like the world has ended and the last sun is about to leave the edge of the sky. There is also worry that the world is gaining momentum towards its own depletion. Last week the University of Sydney hosted geologists, physicists, mathematicians, museum professionals, social scientists, anthropologists gathered in the Darling Harbour of Sydney, to talk about how each discipline could work together to encounter the challenges which the planet earth faces.

       Sydney Environment Institute photo
The title of the conference is Encountering the Anthropocene. A memorable image is placed above the title and indicates a man’s head in the sand under water. The picture signifies many things of our current planetary situation and what the future may hold. For the first time, human beings are influencing the physical processes of the Earth; we have now moved from being serial depleters of local environments to become a planetary geophysical force. While geologists make their case to formalize and adopt this epoch, the role of environmental humanities and social sciences has become crucially linked with our allies in the natural and technological sciences in seeking to understand and meet the challenges and changes thrown up by the new epoch. Our role is to help interpret the impacts, understand the implications, and engage the public in developing alternative ways forward. How to do all this was explored and debated in the conference and its related events and workshops.

Issues which were interrogated in the conference included:

1. The relationship between the natural and technological sciences and the humanities as we engage from different perspectives in the new
    geological era of the Anthropocene.
2. The social and cultural meaning and significance of the planet's entry into an Anthropocene epoch.
3. The roles that artists and writers play in the interpretation and popularization of scientific ideas and themes in the broader cultural landscape

The Museum of Samoa presented on the cultural impacts of climate change and its various activities which highlight the importance of the museum’s task of safeguarding our cultural heritage. Ms Apelu participated on behalf of the Museum of Samoa and reflected on how important such conferences are for the sake of the environment. Ms Apelu draws a lot of her personal experience and from the experience of many Samoans in such trying times of climatic changes for the South Pacific. Her contribution was appreciated and applauded by the participants of the conference who felt that first-hand knowledge to the issues being discussed was very crucial to inspire people to think beyond science and to connect to the human side of the story.

Ms Apelu commends the Ministry of Education Sports and Culture for allowing the museum to extend its premises to issues that are not obvious to the museum’s goals. According to Ms Apelu, the need to inform Samoans of the importance of their own contribution to discussions and implementations of environmental rescues by the larger community should not be taken lightly. ‘Samoans know very well the meaning of human suffering when it comes to cyclones and tsunamis for instance. It is our duty to share our experiences with others in the region and of course the world. For pain should not stop at the hurt phase. It should continue to show how we rebuild and the spirit that it takes to move on is a wonderful lesson that many people with different disciplines can learn from. God knows we all need to work together to make this world a better place to live in. Samoa is in a good place to offer some help to nations that have lost their soul to development and perhaps in turn, it can remind itself of its own unique and somewhat fading beauty in the scheme of things.’

The Museum of Samoa takes away enhanced partnerships from the conference and inspiration to continue with its challenging task of preserving Samoa’s heritage. Another year for the museum lies ahead with many activities in line to showcase the reason memories and past are intriguing and important reminders to Samoans of their own innate strengths and abilities.

Home of Samoa's "Talkies"
By Lumepa Apelu

The old Tivoli Theatre as it appeared in the 1930s.
The film on show is "The Eagle and the Hawk", a 1933 film starring Fredric March and Cary Grant. Sadly the Tivoli burnt down in the 1980s.

The photo was published in the Pacific Islands Monthly, January 1936
Memories Connect and Bind Us in Love

“Neither a lofty degree of intelligence nor imagination nor both together go to the making of genius. Love, love, love, that is the soul of genius.”

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

The Museum of Samoa created a face-book page last year to join the fast pace traffic of online networking - much like jumping from a bus into a train. The page magically attracted many Samoans locally and overseas, also friends of the islands, and partners of the Museum, to comment on the images we have put on to highlight our history and yes our culture. We get an average of over 1000 hits a day. This article focuses on the one image that has drawn very interesting comments from the social networkers, in my view at least. I found a lot of it hilarious (in a good way) and well, sharing of the good is of course caring for the good.

The Tivoli Theater in Samoa burnt down in the 1980s. Some people who made time to share their experiences on our FB page had remembered being there and all of them have nothing but love to show for the memories of the special place. Upon reading the comments, I found that a lot of their memories very richly decorated with the spirit of child like love for simple, happy, inexpensive days.

One networker said that the entire building was seen burning when the fire truck came from, are you ready? -  just next door. The brave heroes of the day pulled out their hoses, and lo behold, there was no water. The phrase “Only in Samoa” was probably invented that day. But the scene itself could have gathered millions of international awards of fame  as one of “Samoa’s funniest home videos.”

But I touch hearts with one networker who softly said that while watching the Tivoli burn into flames and turn to ashes slowly, “we could sense that we were watching the end of something very special.”

Movies such as Grease, Ivanhoe, Warriors, Star Wars ( all three originals), Funny Girl, Tom Sawyer, They call me Chop Suey, King Kong, Annie, Jaws, The Godfather, and the all time favorite Sound of Music were the highlights of their amusement times. They used to stand in long queues. Buses would wait till the movies were done to take the movie watchers home. Apian youth used to muscle the other youth from outer villages coming into watch the movies. One no nonsense networker used to get in for free by fighting another boy as called by the usher. Other networkers went to play “spacies” in the shop next door before the movies while others still used to send their younger family members to purchase tickets to save them from standing in the long queues. Such memories continue the dialogue of the networkers recalling their younger days. In all their words, their stories, their recollections, I sense a happiness that even traveling clouds could hold. And the Tivoli Theater is what connects and binds them.

While nowadays it costs us 12tala per head and more for snacks for the kids, in the 1960s, it was a mere 20 sene. I wonder how much the peanuts cost. Interestingly, another woman plainly said, “..there were no cell phones” as if to remind that cell phones are an intrusion to our quiet and serene days.

In essence, watching the movies in those years was not at all like today. Peanuts in their roasted skins were the snack of the moment, no pop corn, no chocolate, no twisties and coke in cans? I ponder for a moment - How could our kids today survive without? And the audiences were not quiet, no siree, they made some noise. They would cheer for the good guys in the movies, boo at the bad guys, make jokes about uncomfortable scenes and the entire theater would break into giggles of laughter. Reminds me now of my late daughter who used to pretend she was the instructor of the classical music they often play in the beginning before the ads. Her comic gestures made me laugh out loud. From her own contagious happiness and the reminders from the networkers of the old Tivoli atmosphere, I think that there is freedom in being fearless of the opinion of crowds. Simplicity is beautiful, isn’t it? It makes us remember our life in a different and kinder light.

One social networker could even remember the smell of the place, like old leather he said. Another one commented (I am sure he giggled privately) on how uncomfortable his father was when watching a movie where a woman had shown her bare upper body. Interestingly enough, a young active Samoan member of the Samoa Voyaging Society wrote in to say that she wishes that place was still here. She would have loved to hold events there. But the Tivoli was also used for events. I received many articles from the Alexander Turnbull Library regarding news on these events.

But the end of Tivoli may have meant to happen that way. Maybe we were meant to look back, each of us who had a moment with the Tivoli Theater, and say to it and to ourselves, that those times were golden as the sky is blue, and it is something we can take to our death beds with us, smile in our old age and tell our grand kids about. Not everything lasts but some things stay beautiful all the way through. I guess I can say here that that is what the “end of something very special“ could mean. It ends with those who were part of it. From a museum’s perspective, we are thus fortunate. Memory takes us further than our death beds. And if you believe in God, the Tivoli Theater is eternal.

Stay true Samoa. You are living in moments of your own time now. May God bless you and all our journeys.

Museums Connect: Museum of Samoa Represents
by Lumepa Apelu

Last week, I was blessed to represent our Museum in a colloquium hosted by the Museums Connect project made possible by the US State Department, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and administered by the American Alliance Museums, held in Washington DC. If you can recall, the American Museum of Natural History NY and the Museum of Samoa, proposed and won a grant together. The proposed project t is called: Rethinking Home, Rethinking Climate: Linking Samoa and New York.

While listening to the other winners and their projects ( 10 winners out of 50 applicants – go Samoa by the way and tribute to the Ministry of Education Sports and Culture for your courage to move on with the tidal changes of developing our museum) my simple mind kept wondering back to my own reasons for being here, not the technical things I have learnt through my formal education but the essence of what it means to be a Samoan, my upbringing, the memories that our generation looks back to with colorful reminiscence, the golden days, longed for and often missed and the loss of our dearest ones.

I heard on the Magic FM one morning on my way to work, the laughter between Corey (host) and Dora (SSAB guest) about the vaipe, and the glory days of growing up there. Albert Wendt wrote about it as a descendant of the vaipe district and I too lived there under the rich cultural umbrella of my grandfather, Tuiletufuga Nanai Saaga and my very ‘oke but loving grandmother Patupatu, so I laughed too.

I recalled that the candy was a sip of the hibiscus flower, the pretence of smoking was from the bark of an ‘olioli plant and the race of floating wood in the vaipe was mimicking the fautasi races out at sea. We did the musa with a stone or a sandal and the mapu playing was also a big sport amongst us kids. Then we did the lape and the throwing of stones at someone we did not like, then hid behind the pa aute. Oh and not to forget our afa kasi neighbour coming out with a gun when my sister fell into his pa aute because she could not stop the bicycle that she grabbed off another neighbor as she rolled down the Moto’otua hill, looking for a smack from our mother…which she did get a nice sweet deal of. These thoughts barked at me through the meeting of brilliant minds on the subject of culture and climate change, and other issues highlighted by different projects.

In such a midst of brilliant minds and project proposals, I remained faithful to my ancestry but spoke with my adopted English formal language, thank you school books, debate society, Universities, Malifa, Samoa College and God for the gift of intellect and oxygen. Such a presentation for a Samoan is not very difficult in my view because, I like all of you, have had first hand experience with the pain of losing not just homes but loved ones in the effects of disasters and climate change. But in saying this, when we look at our brothers and sisters in the Pacific, the Kiribati islands and Tuvalu, for example, their drinking water is salty and surely makes one’s taste of life difficult to swallow because despite our loss, other islands are actually worse off in our struggle to survive a paradise that is affected by climate change.

Other non US museums and project proposals which won the highly competitive grant included themes such as:

* Ancient shores, Ancient Tides – Developing local archaelogical heritage expertise (Phillipines)

* Design Diaries International ( Jerusalem)

* Empower parents: Fostering Cross Cultural Networks between families and Autism ( Spain)

* Flag Stories: Citizenship Unbound ( Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur)

* Forest Guardians ( Peru, Hawaii)

* A Journey through African Diaspora ( Brazil)

* Scaling the Walls: Creating Urban Green Spaces ( Ecuador)

* Turning the Table: Understanding Cross-cultural movements ( Mexico)

So I had the grand opportunity to make friends with each of these international museum colleagues in Washington DC, especially our newly found family in New York, the anthropologist Dr Jennifer Newell, and her team. She is by the way, in the same place as Margaret Mead career wise for the American Museum of Natural History.  Dr Newell and I agree that the Samoan collection here needs to be relabeled and a breath of life is much required in the small corner that it is housed by. Yes, another article but I will definitely share now with you the sentiments I felt when I saw the Samoan collection…”I wept for the loneliness of the artifacts”, as Shigeyuki Kihara plainly put it. I guess sharing our culture is not just about being cookie smart but also about being honest. We are not a big museum but we have big dreams and we plan to spread them world wide.

While the Museums Connect project has enriched me with the touch of an international understanding of similar issues affecting all of mankind, my heart still ponders on the Pacific and Samoa, our future, and our children. The va’a exhibition and the fale exhibition planned by the Museum of Samoa signify our ancestors’ ingenuity and abilities to adjust to the threats of the shaky environment. What is most fascinating to me, is that our ancestors loved the environment much more than we do. I think they gave back to it more than we do. I also think that there was balance then, and our imbalance now needs to be reshuffled. Perhaps I speak big words for a small and young Samoan but like the Museum of Samoa, its minute collection represents giant ideas and dreams that we cannot afford to turn our backs to. The indirect inspirational tools we need therefore are to make/rebuild our homes and to be proactive in times of fear and unpredictable circumstances.

May all the glories of your past enrich you still Samoa. God bless.

Credit: Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, N.Z. Ref No. PAColl-6075-44
The Museum of Samoa Ignites the Imagination
By Lumepa Apelu.

The word canoe is translated to mean, “brown man’s boat.” It was coined when the Indians of America were seen by the first discoverers. But the best thing in my view is that when the said discoverer’s found the Pacific Islanders, the canoes were bigger and faster, so better. Captain Cook had said that they ( Pacific island canoes) were the best things he had laid his eyes on and they were better than the Westerner’s old ships, his own ship.

In its usual but gladly shouldered endeavor the Museum of Samoa looks at the art of voyaging in this article. The art is said to be one of the most endangered of traditional skills in Samoa. Well, it does not take a genius to figure that out, nor the bother of statistical analysts. We only need to look out to sea and recognize the emptiness of the seashore. I say emptiness because history has a different image of our shores and the existence of the va’a.
On an indirect but relevant note, my most favorite scenery of Samoa’s sea is a lonely paopao sitting out in the lagoon on a calm day with only the moving clouds to signal that it is not a dream, but rather real. When I was at Lalomanu looking after many tourists in my ordinary job of managing a beach fale, the kayaks dominated the lagoon most days. The paopao was a rare sight and it was seen because one of the local fisher-man would be fishing and would be brining fish over to the beach fale for sale, some for his family. The scenery stopped me from whatever I was doing, whether it be emailing guests to come stay on the best beach in Samoa, chatting with guests, my aging father, or making do with staff; I always stopped. The reason for stopping to gaze was blurry but I think it was because the scenery is old just as one’s soul is aged in time through things we read and observe. It is an image that is captured in a romance that cannot be replaced. It also reminds of a moment in childhood that I cannot put my finger on, but special none the less. The lasting image of a canoe at sea never leaves you, even when you have grown past the spectacular discoveries of the modern age and the airplane is a vessel that you have to take to get to NZ, not the alia. Imagine sailing through a cyclone in an alia to get to Tonga or Fiji. Wild but true. It actually used to be the way of our ancestors. They sailed in the winds and they had built many large vessels to do this.

In promoting our cultural heritage, intangible and tangible, I would like to now take the reader to a setting of one hundred years ago. Imagine that the clouds are down and the sky is up. Imagine the old man standing on the shore and pointing at the clouds. Before him, the alia sits majestically on the lagoon, and women and children are playing in the paopao or as some would like, collecting frangipanis by the pua tree. “The winds are right for sea faring,” says the old man. The village packs bananas, taro, fish and gets on the alia, all 250 of them. They are sailing to Fiji, where they are wanted to make/build more alias. In Fiji, the wood is abundant but the skill is not as good as in Samoa. Our people used to travel the seas so easily and trade with other islands. Adzes were also traded but that is another article. The alia by the way is a two hulled vessel, with large sails, and looks very much like the Gaualofa vessel which is a more modern copy of the old alia version I write of. It exists in Tonga as the kalia or Fiji as the ndrua. Either name means the same thing. The magnificence of this imagery is that it was true that the seas of Oceania were covered with brave seafarers of the Pacific islands who traded with others and who also went to war in the same vessels. The amatasi were often used as protectors of the big alia. The amatasi is another type of vessel that is bigger than the paopao. Our many va’a are part of whom and where we came from.

The museum has been lucky this year and of course with the blessings of God. Its inspirations have been felt by others besides the staff, and so exhibitions are building on the shelf as we try to organize time and budget to showcase them. One such exhibition is the “voyaging exhibition” which we will highlight in November. The Alexander Turnbull Library of Wellington NZ was the first to respond to our plea for high resolution images. The chief librarian will grace our shores to join us in the exhibition of the art of voyaging. The Samoa Voyaging Society (whose patron is his Highness the Head of State) are also working alongside the Museum to bring to light the exhibition. Another wonderful find for the exhibition is an old va’a builder – practitioner, Va’elua Alai Sa, an 88 year old man, with kind eyes for the sea. He will build two models of the alia for the Museum and for our future generations. Volunteers of the museum and its staff continue to build on the exhibition with research that will make anyone weep for the love and honor of our past, I recall that these are the traits that Albert Wendt has said will help “develop our own unique eyes, voices, muscles and imagination. “ 

We look forward to more inspiring moments with you as our audience Samoa. God speed!

Gifts for the Museum
By Lumepa Apelu

“Firstly, we have a duty to our cherished ancestors who have given us the traditions and customs on which our present way of life is based. They have laid the foundation upon which we have built the house of Samoa. We owe it to their memory to succeed in the great task before us, so that their work and their sacrifices shall not have been in vain.”

Hon. Mata’afa Fiame Faumuina II

La’auli Dr Peter Higginson and Matafeo Falana'ipupu Tanielu Aiafi,
Chief Executive Officer, Ministry of Education, Sports & Culture
The touch of a blue sky after a long grey storm, is much like a spontaneous act of generosity by a donor to the Museum of Samoa’s collection. Donations are the irrefutable evidence that,  at long last, we are earning the essential trust of potential future donators in the Museum’s goals and methods of work that are the inescapable pre-conditions for the return of Samoa’s  material cultural heritage. The challenge before the staff today is to reverse decades of neglect and indifference to the sadly too small collection that it already has. Care, restoration where necessary, and especially secure storage are the overarching concerns of the Museum’s staff today. Much can be done in the present premises to ensure these outcomes but there are limits: the fact is that without modern facilities that include reliable temperature control, appropriate lighting (too much is just as bad as too little), and premises that are secure, the staff can only accomplish so much. This is a subject that is worthy of further reflection and thus another article so let us concentrate on what we have. And what we have is a greatly improved building – you have surely noticed our new paint job... The promise of things to come? We certainly hope so.

Speaking of blue skies, we were blessed last week with one generous donor who is no stranger to Samoa since he was the first Director of the UNESCO Office in Matautu. In a meeting with the Chief Executive officer of the Ministry of Education Sports and Culture, Matafeo Falana’ipupu Tanielu Aiafi, La’auli Doctor Peter Higginson donated three 19th century tapas to the Museum and promised that, in the expectation that the requisite security would also be guaranteed, he promised to ship additional Samoan artefacts that he had acquired in the US over the years. They include a number of antique (over 100 years old), a fine old nifo-oti, a tanoa and various canoe models. Provided the Museum cares for these items appropriately, he will be sending a substantial collection of cultural artefacts from elsewhere in the Pacific as well as large quantity of Pacific Islands reference books. The ball is thus now in the court of the Ministry of Education Sports and Culture to carry forward with the donation plan as agreed upon.

The Museum is overjoyed at the prospect of receiving these treasures since, through them, our people will, at long last, have the opportunity of  touching the hands of our ancestors who made them. To receive them would be like receiving the “home from the sea” poet, the long awaited journey that settles at the top of the mountain to look below with pride at the coast covered with Samoans rejoicing in their own material culture and its magnificence.

Afioga La’auli is married to Rosalina Tea Higginson from Vaipuna and has two daughters, Puaaganoa and Roxanna. He visits Samoa regularly for family visits, make repairs to the family house and of course to deal with the inescapable fa’alavelaves. This year, he made a special visit to the Museum of Samoa to bring his glad-tidings to our Museum team. Through the past year, we have informed La’auli that the Museum would be honoured to have a signed copy of his book, “The Fale Samoa”. The book was received by the Museum last month with his signature to acknowledge that the book is for the Museum, and is now part of the Museum’s library collection. The limited edition was published by UNESCO in 1987 and is believed to be the only book ever written that details the complex methods used in the construction of the fale Samoa. By documenting the precise joining and lashing methods of the tufuga who erected these fabulous structures, it is a tribute to the brilliance and genius of these fast-disappearing master craftsmen. According to La’auli, while some of the tufugas who were involved in the making of the book may have passed on,  he is now keen to move beyond that “what” of the construction of the fale in order to get a more fundamental question: the “why”: why is the fale, unique in the Pacific, built as it is? Why is it so central to the fa’a Samoa? The Museum, hopefully in collaboration with the NUS Centre for Samoan Studies, plans to pursue these important questions.

On an indirect but related note, while we have just launched our joint venture with our new friends from the American Museum of Natural History, we also await the arrival of the Alexander Turnbull Library’s chief librarian who will be gracing our shores in a couple of weeks to share with us some of Samoa’s old photos from times when Samoans did not have cameras. We consider the venture important. “Important, how so?”  My strongly felt response is simple: because the desire to do so is part of the Samoan DNA.  Honouring the memories of those who have gone before us, and those who have sacrificed their blood for our independence, our freedom are obligations that the Museum staff, for their part, gladly shoulder. As our first prime minister wrote in a message published in the Samoana in 1962, “We owe it to their (our ancestors) memory to succeed in the great task before us, so that their work and their sacrifices shall not have been in vain.”

Where are our dinosaurs?
by Lumepa Apelu
"If civilization is to survive, we must cultivate the science of human relationships - the ability of all peoples, of all kinds, to live together, in the same world at peace."
Franklin D Roosevelt

History as culture, though not a person, slowly dies in our memories and our daily lives because we forget the importance of where we came from and how we got here. That is the dilemma of busy lives. Forgetting, taking for granted, missing the point altogether if we are not careful.

Photo of American Musuem of Natural History, NY: Margaret Mead Pacific Collection Hall
The Museum of Samoa whispers and sometimes sings the moments of Samoa's history through its significant artefacts, research and collaborations with locals and overseas guests, universities, museums and cultural organizations. Fortunately through its humble messages on the print and social media, more people are coming to the Museum of Samoa to bring their memories, trusting the Museum with their photos and engaging with us like family arriving from afar in their long journeys through the seas that separate though also unite us.

Last week, a trivial but funny moment with my daughter evolved into the point of this article. We were watching an interesting television show in the comforts of our home where the American Museum of Natural History situated in New York was the chosen location of the show.  The camera took us into a room showcasing gigantic skeletons of dinosaurs. My nine year old, without hesitating, excitedly said in her innocent joy, “Mum, that is a real museum a ea?” I laughed at her quick betrayal of the Museum of Samoa which she also says she loves to visit.

But the child's mind is a jewellery box of positive motives so I did not feel judged by her excitement. Instead, I dwelled on the innocent remark and wondered, "Where are our dinosaurs?" The answers came to me as I suppose the dew is received by dried up soil. The Museum of Samoa may not hold the remains of giants that roamed earth over 65 million years ago, but archaeological findings and remnants left behind by our ancestors are now housed under the protection of our humble Museum. These remnants are in fact treasures of our existence and should be a proud moment for our people.

And the fact of the matter is, most of our treasures are held in larger museums overseas. That is where the tides of time took them, where millions of visitors marvel at the beauty of our Samoan culture, our way of life. While the mind of a child marvels at the skeleton of a dinosaur, my inspiration is enlarged with the reminder of the expert navigators of Samoa, the art of tattooing, the elegant weaving of mats and the texture of Samoan fabric, the siapo, weapons and tools to name but just a few things worth exhibiting and bragging about.

But there is good news for my nine year old who I am sure will dance to express her conviction in great things when I tell her the news. The American Museum of Natural History (New York) is, as I write, preparing to grace our shores next week (Thursday). Dr Jennifer Newell, curator for AMNH Pacific Collection is a guest speaker for the Museum of Samoa’s launch of a project entitled - Rethinking Climate, Rethinking Home: Linking Samoa and New York. The project is focused around the traditional fale Samoa and the New York homes. It is hoped that through the collaboration, both museums will extend knowledge of their cultures. The Museum of Samoa, hopes also that this is a window of opportunity to see the Samoan collection in the American Museum of Natural History. Dr Newell, will present a power point viewing of some of Samoa’s collection (dinosaurs).  From thereon, more workshops will be held in both countries to share information and enhance collaborations.

The American Museum of Natural History is one of the world’s largest natural history museums, with collections of 32 million specimens and cultural artefacts, comprising an invaluable scientific and educational resource, 45 permanent exhibition galleries, and extensive supporting infrastructure. The Museum welcomes almost 5 million visitors each year including almost 500,000 school children. That is why my nine year old thinks it is a real museum and her innocence is forgiven. The giants in the Museum of Samoa are waking slowly and live inside our homes, carried on our tongues, sailing on our canoes, riding on the fingers of our siapo makers and mat weavers and laughing alongside our children, who have to see some of our treasures on the modern tools of web-mail and facebook. While scattered everywhere, I go home reassured that they may not all be inside the Museum here but they definitely exist.

Photo by Mr. Ewald Kopp
The Memories that bind us
By Lumepa Apelu

The Museum of Samoa is one of the units of the Culture division in the Ministry of Education Sports and Culture. It is tasked to promote and preserve Samoan culture and history. While the opportunities of doing so can vary as do wrinkles on an old woman’s face, a genuine smile colored the Museum last week in the delight of uniting a man and his family in Samoa.
Ewald Kopp, German, middle-aged, bald with kind eyes, came to Samoa for the first time last week, determined to find Samoan descendants of his great grandfather, the first Graf to set foot on our shores during the time of the German empire. In the Museum of Samoa, a family tree of German families is showcased. Ewald found on the tree, the name, “Graf” and came to me hopeful for an answer, as darkness is for light.
In an hour or two of listening to him, I drowned in Samoan history as a poet drowns in words; marveling at the simplicity and kindnesses of Samoans, the beauty of the islands we continue to live in, and the charming thought of a stream passing through Safata village while the European and German guests of his great grandfather’s hotel, situated in Malolo-lelei, stopped the time with their words engraved in a guest book describing Samoa and its people. 
A moment lived through another one’s kind eyes is indescribable. If you listened to Ewald Kopp, and then browsed his family’s history with him, you too would fall in love with Samoa once again.

We called Tu Speriana Graf who is the only Graf mentioned in the local phone book. A conversation with Tu led to the fact that she did not change her last name to her husband’s because she wanted to maintain her own great grandfather’s last name. Tu and I, strangers, but together in one breath, said her great grandfather’s name like we knew him, “Julius” - we burst with excitement as if the sky blinked and it turned to its bluest all of a sudden. Tu Sepriana Graf is the proud owner of one of our very successful tyre-repair businesses in Apia.

“Tu, you are related to Ewald.” Ewald could not contain his tears as he turned to the window. He has finally fulfilled his grandmother’s wish. Hulda Alwine was the 8th child of Gustuv Julius Graf, who is Ewald’s grandmother. Ewald spoke with tears of his grandmother and her love for Samoa when she lived here with her parents, and 8 other siblings. The number of children Julius had did not leave Ewald and I short of laughter and awe. Gustav Julius took those kids on the ships across the countries, as there were no planes, and the amount of travel time is of course fascinating. But the Graf’s were forced to move back to Germany when New Zealand took over Samoa. Gustav Julius Graf could not live in Germany after being in Samoa. Instead, he moved his entire family to live in Brazil where Ewald believes reminded his great grandfather of the Samoa he dearly loved.

When asked why he thought his grandmother was more Samoan than German, Ewald said, “She was very peaceful. She could live on nothing. She was very content with life and she was very much homesick for Samoa.” While Ewald’s English was not fluent but much better than my zero knowledge of German language, I understood in our all universal human language the essence of his story. With that, I was humbled and proud at the thoughts/beliefs he held of Samoans. When we take a look across the table, between our villages and our islands and across the sea to other nations, we appreciate moments like these where we can reflect and appreciate what we have, from the people we live or work with to the country we live and maybe die in.

While the Museum has been privileged to join Ewald’s search for his Samoan clan, it will also take further steps towards enriching Ewald’s story with evidence gifted to the Museum by Ewald himself. Ewald has left copies of birth certificates/photos to his lineage and names of German people his family was associated with from the late 1800s to the early 1900s. He will also be sending us the guest sign book which his great grandfather had from Samoa. The guest book is a gem of details about the visitor’s thoughts of our islands and of course a memoir of their names and extensions to them therof.

Finally, Mr. Kopp had me thinking of the aura of the museum building in which we sat and talked like old friends, yet we’ve only just met. Ewald’s grandmother attended the first German school in Malifa, and had walked 2 hours from Malolo-lelei to attend the school. The magic was/is in the wonder of such a soft memory, presented to the Museum. The magic is also in the continuity of our humanity and the peaceful sounds of footsteps of children who’ve passed these roads before us, the echo of their laughter which remains in our minds, years from when they were here. Mr Kopp will join his Samoan family for to’ona’i on Sunday.

Similar stories have enriched the Museum in the past and we hope that as the museum’s collection grows, more will appreciate Samoa’s culture which these stories permeate. The Museum of Samoa has also recently started a face-book page showcasing our memories as a nation built on strength, humility, truthfulness, pride, compassion and honor – the human virtues we need to embrace in times of adversity. May you thus enjoy!

The Road of Loving Hearts Recalled
By Lumepa Apelu
“…I love Samoa and her people. I love the land, I have chosen it to be my home while I live, and my grave after I am dead; and I love the people, and have chosen them to be my people to live and die with. And I see that the day is come now of the great battle; of the great and the last opportunity by which it shall be decided, whether you are to pass away like these other races of which I have been speaking, or to stand fast and have your children living on and honoring your memory in the land you received of your forefathers. “ Robert Louis Stevenson, in Valima Letters.
In a moment where things can easily go wrong, there is always a reminder in our history, where we can draw inspiration as we look onto the future and its many challenges. Robert Louis Stevenson presented a thank you speech to the Chiefs who paved the Road of Gratitude, also called by him as the Road of Loving Hearts. The road mentioned is the steep path which leads to where he is buried now and the view is majestic but that is besides the point we discuss though much a memory can be drawn from it. It is a popular site for townsmen and townswomen who like to climb for an exercise.

The significance of this article is minute compared to the lasting message showcased in the speech that was said in 1894 in the month of October. Further in his address the Tusitala said to the Chiefs, “It is the man who makes roads, who plants food trees, who gathers harvests, and is a profitable servant before the Lord using and improving that great talent that has been given him in trust. That is the brave soldier; that is the true champion; because all things in a country hang together like the links of the anchor cable, one by another; but the anchor itself is industry.” It takes no more than that to remind us that industry is God given and should be utilized regardless of what form it comes in whatever age.  
The speech ends with a strong hopeful tone as the Tusitala states, “Chiefs! Our road is not built to last a thousand years, yet in a sense it is. When a road is built, it is a strange thing how it collects traffic, how every year as it goes on, more and more people are found to walk thereon, and others are raised up to repair and perpetuate it, and keep it alive; so that perhaps even this road of ours may, from reparation to reparation, continue to exist and be useful hundreds and hundreds of years after we are mingled into dust. And it is my hope that our far away descendants may remember and bless those who labored for them today.” Robert Louis Stevenson passed away about two months after the speech was made and was carried by the chiefs to the top of the road of loving hears where he now rests.

The road of loving hearts still exists today, a 119 years later, not only in its physical structure as you see when you visit the grave of Robert Louis Stevenson, but also in our minds, our blood, our heritage. It is the roads of the past and their makers, our ancestors which and whom make us who we are.  The Museum of Samoa shares such an inspiring speech as it is here to record and share Samoa’s rich and enriching history and culture.

Students from all around Samoa often visit the Museum of Samoa to get resources for their history subjects. Robert Louis Stevenson is one of the “Written Resources” handed out. In expanding/promoting interest towards that resource, we took the time to read some of Robert Louis Stevenson’s writings.

The Museum of Samoa Inspired
APTC students revisited the Museum of Samoa last week led by tutor Cheryl Payne. A questionnaire was handed out to the students to help the Museum evaluate its tour concepts and content. It was great to see the students whom were actually teachers being trained to look at inspirations on how to use the Samoan culture as activities in class. Great because the Museum staff know that one only has to have interest in our history to escalate with inspirations on what our ancestors busied themselves with and how their ingenuity led to where we are now. Senior Museum Officer Mainifo Viliamu and Museum Officer Ailini Eteuati were delighted to take the students through a tour of the Museum.

Museum of Samoa Marvels at Past
Written by Lumepa Apelu
In 1962, the National Geographic of USA published an article written by a New Zealander, Maurice Shadbolt, who came to Samoa during our then first year of Independence celebrations. The Museum of Samoa was lucky enough to receive a copy of the limited edition through a kind donor and advocate of Samoa’s cultural heritage.
Pea soup, according to the article writer was the reason for the name pisupo. The first can food to Samoa was pea soup. The second was corn beef but the Samoans were in the habit of referring to the pea soup as canned food so the term “pisupo” stuck to corn beef.  The corn beef is definitely part of our culture in my view as it has been and still continues to define our to’onai menus from time to time. Even our families in New Zealand and Australia are helping in the profits of the pisupo industry.

The article in the national geographic was entitled, “Western Samoa, the Pacific’s newest nation.” Pictures in full color show the fautasi race, the village of Saleimoa in its simple Samoan model arrangement, the beautiful face of Samoan girls, the wooden bus, the matai taking an outside shower displaying his tattoo, the children riding horses in the rain, the festive cricket game, the elegant dancer - taualuga, the clown song leader - taimi pese, the grave of our beloved tusitala Robert Louis Stevenson and so many more untouched paradise memories. Our paradise.
Today we are still looking at these similarly themed events in real life and in colors ever so vibrant. We are indeed lucky as a nation that was once colonized and now independent as far as culture is concerned. Things have been touched and changed of course, by our colonizers and our governments but there still stir in the midst of our children’s lives the underlying currents of where they came from and the reminder of our ancestors, our Samoan heritage.

These are the things we are made of: the sinnet, the fale Samoa, the dances and singing, the navigation, the tattoos, the tanoa paluava, the radio, the television, the revolution of our schools made more important through the scholars we now have, the sky scraping buildings funded by developed countries, the relations with our pacific neighbors and the entire world, and so much more. Nothing stays the same but we have somehow moved and stayed at the same time. Is it magic? The religious ones in our midst say it is God’s will. Well, the article I write is left to the imagination in you to have faith – for mankind and yes for our culture.

Shadbolt’s host was a chief of Apia, our Albert Wendt’s father who owned a plumbing business. His name mentioned was Henry Wendt. He spoke of his people’s belief in God and the family. He also spoke of his and every Samoan’s pride in the education of his/their children. Albert Wendt (his youthful son then) took Maurice on a bus ride in the villages as Albert believed that the bus is the best place to see Samoa. I couldn’t agree more. The bus may be un-cushioned leaving one’s buttocks flattened but the local people inside, the memorable loud music and the slow passing of the bus along the villages allows one to see all the small but marvelous things that one rarely notices while in a speedy car.  In Henry Wendt’s simple understanding of his own heritage, and in the tour taken on the bus by his son Albert Wendt and the author of the article we reflect on, the moral of the story arrives at - Samoa’s simple living is the way life should be.

Honorable Tamasese Meaole was also interviewed for the article. At the time, he was very proud of Samoa’s achievements. And so should he have been. But his language seems conflicting now with the modern world catching onto our simplicity. He favored the notion that Samoa is in the middle of a slow and sure progressing island, hardly influenced by the fast pacing outside world. Today, as you know, it is not so. Issues arising, whether financial, spiritual, environmental, educational, etc unite us with the rest of the world. We cannot help but latch onto the bigger developed nations. We cannot float on our own either. The currents and chaos of social, climatic and cultural change are inevitable. We do know, from the past few natural disasters in our country for example, that we have to keep our eyes open all the while. I learnt the hard way that fear distracts you in the arms of danger. I suppose that the point of the article is simple: Have faith and focus.

While the museum reflects on our history and culture, it seems that the more appropriate phrase to start this year with is that “Everything falls into place when we accept who we are to begin with.” More will come from the Museum of Samoa in a month or so. We are hosting a renowned Samoan artist whose applaud is heard louder in New Zealand and elsewhere. But we are lucky to have her donate her time to us this year. Shigeyuki Kihara ( Yuki) is an established award winning artist of our own. She brings to us the Galu afi soon. Others of her caliber and expertise will soon follow.

Museum of Samoa Photo: Students celebrate workshops
Museum and Children Celebrate
Written By Museum of Samoa (Lumepa Apelu)

20 faithful children from Leifiifi Primary school enjoyed a fun loving celebration at the Museum of Samoa on the afternoon of Thursday 23rd November. The celebration was to earmark the end of the year for school and the end of the educational workshops held weekly at the museum to increase awareness on cultural arts and themes. The children had been consistently attending the workshops held at the museum throughout the year.

The aim of the workshops is to promote and preserve our cultural heritage through innovative ways of learning that children can respond to favorably. Each week, after school they learn how to draw/trace Samoa’s artifacts showcased in the museum. They also learn the Samoan language and its legends through story-telling, painting, weaving etc under the guidance and expertise of the museum educational senior officer, Mainifo Viliamu who is often assisted by her colleague Ailini Eteuati.
For the first time since the workshops started at the museum, the children were given a room filled with party goodies for their enjoyment. The party was made possible with the help of esteemed humanitarian business woman Fiti Leung Wai, Managing Director of Samoa Stationery & Books. Fiti was delighted to assist the museum’s cultural workshops as an advocate of culture and education herself. Along with Mrs Leug Wai’s support, the Archo-Chemical company was also a supporter of the important initiative.

While the museum staff congratulate the children for making the kids’ workshops program a successful one this year, they also look forward to enhancing the program given the children’s feedback. It is also hoped that the museum staff and volunteers will be able to travel to the villages soon to reach the children who cannot afford to visit the museum. Other plans include local and international Samoan artists who are willing to contribute to their community here by utilizing their talents to lead classes for children and adults.

Earlier this year, schools such as Lefaga College, Wesley College, St Joseph’s College, Vaiala Beach School, Samoa Primary School, Pesega College, Maluafou College, Leifiifi College, Sauniatu Primary, NUS Tourism Class, APTC, and many others took advantage of the tours at the museum. The museum also hopes to enhance these with the inclusion of its volunteers who consist of local experts who offer their voluntary time to contribute to educational and cultural initiatives.

The Museum of Samoa is an entity of the Ministry of Education Sports and Culture. You may view more on our website: http//  If you wish to be a friend of the museum please send us an e-mail or call us at 26036.

For more News and Updates open Archive 2012 page

Exhibitions This exhibition has been closed and the exhibits are kept in storage now.
The most recent exhibition in the Museum of Samoa is the German Samoa Exhibition that was brought in by the Federal Pacific German Embassy.
The exhibition depicts the successful relationship between the two countries as it displays a historical photo exhibit of the Germans from 1900 till now.
The exhibition can be viewed in the Museum of Samoa till December 2012. Meanwhile the Environment Room for the Museum had been temporarily kept in storage.

The launch of this website is made achievable through the financial support from the UNESCO office of Apia.
The website serves as a promotional and an awareness tool for students and visitors of the Museum. It will continue to showcase updates of the Museum’s educational and Cultural Programs throughout the year.