5 Jun 2002

Mixed reaction in Samoa to NZ government apology

11:34 am on 5 June 2002

There has been a mixed reaction from the Samoan government to the New Zealand prime minister, Helen Clark's apology to Samoa for the failings of New Zealand's early colonial administration there.

Miss Clark, who is in Apia, apologized during Samoa's 40th independence anniversary, over the deaths of 22 percent of Samoa's population from influenza in 1918 and the 1929 shooting of non violent protestors by New Zealand police.

She described the events as the result of an inept and incompetent administration.

The Samoa Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele inferred in his reply to Miss Clark that an apology was not necessary as it was settled during the signing of the Treaty of Friendship between the two countries.

Another minister said it was too little given the contribution that Samoans had made in New Zealand.

Former Prime Minister Tupua Tamasese Efi welcomed the apology.

He is the nephew of one of the marchers slain in 1929.

He says he was moved and struggled not to cry during Miss Clark's speech.