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Samoan independence celebrations start early

Published: 8:58PM Thursday May 31, 2012 Source: ONE News

Commemorations have started on the eve of celebrations marking fifty years of independence of Samoa from New Zealand.

New Zealand's Governor General Sir Jerry Mateparae, who is presenting New Zealand in Samoa tomorrow, said despite some struggles between the two countries, there have been more "ups than downs".

"You can't change your history and the neat thing about the sentiment here is they are looking at the past as the past," said Mateperae.

In 1929, eight unarmed Samoans were shot dead by New Zealand police during a peaceful march as part of The Mau movement.

And after Samoans started moving to New Zealand in the 1950s, they were targeted by police trying to find overstayers in the 1970s dawn raids.

Samoans are now the largest Pacific group in New Zealand, numbering more than 130,000 people.

Samoan Phillip Bernard said it was a good day when the country gained independence.

"Where Samoa is at the present is largely to New Zealand's guidance."

New Zealand Police will be present at the celebrations tomorrow and the Navy band will march through town. The New Zealand Air Force will also fly over Samoa's capital.