1 Jun 2012

Samoans march in parades to mark 50 years of independence

1:52 pm on 1 June 2012

Thousands of people have finished parading past dignitaries at the celebrations to mark 50 years of Samoa's independence from New Zealand.

Big crowds got up at dawn to make their way to parliament to take part in the event.

Phillipa Tolley is at parliament.

"A 21 gun salute was fired after Samoa's flag was raised just before the parades began. Bands, church groups, schools, govermment departments and cultural groups have all been taking part in march, which took more than three hours, it's thought as many as 13,000 people were involved and they ranged in age from five or six to those in their 70s. The celebrations began with an address from the head of state who announced in that 35 prisoners with minor convictions are being given amensty as a sign of forgiveness. This morning's events are just the begining of five days of activities."