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Samoa celebrates 50 years of independence

Published: 8:16AM Friday June 01, 2012 Source: ONE News

Thousands of people including a host of foreign dignitaries have celebrated 50 years of independence in Samoa.

A two-hour formal ceremony today was followed by a march past of multinational forces, schools and community groups.

UK reggae group UB40 and King Kapisi were performing a celebratory concert tonight attended by thousands of Samoans.
 
Samoa flags in the nation's colours of red, white and blue line the main road from the airport through to Apia.

For decades, Samoa was subjected to British, German and New Zealand colonial rule.

Fifty-years-ago New Zealand handed back self governance to the country.

One of the organisers - the first clerk assistant to parliament - remembers that day well

"The joint heads of state raised that flag and saw this flag alone at the top of the pole for the first time," said Aeau Taulupo'o.

"To me that was a very emotional moment and that was how I felt this morning."

A strong New Zealand contingent is in Samoa, as the friendship treaty between the two nations continues.

New Zealand's Governor General, Sir Jerry Mateparae, was welcomed by the Minister of Education Magele Mauiliu yesterday, and is representing New Zealand in Samoa today.

Sir Jerry says the relationship between the two countries is in good shape.

"I think it's important for New Zealand, important in the sense of looking back over 50 years to see the progress. For Samoa it's also about looking ahead to the next 50 years and beyond," he said.
              
New Zealand police will also be present at the celebrations tomorrow and the Navy band will march. The New Zealand Air Force will also fly over Apia.

United States secretary of state Hillary Clinton said in a statement today was an opportunity to reflect on decades of progress.

"On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I  am delighted to send best wishes to the people of Samoa as you celebrate a half century of independence," Clinton said.

"I send my deepest congratulations to all Samoans around the world on this milestone anniversary.  Best wishes for continued peace and prosperity in the decades to come."

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