16 Dec 2013

Samoa College's former pupils to mark school's 60 years

6:09 pm on 16 December 2013

Samoa's best known high school, Samoa College, is marking 60 years since it started in 1953.

This was nine years before the country gained its independence, and the president of the New Zealand branch of the Samoa College Old Pupils Association, Sooalu Setu Mua, says the school was to play a pivotal role in the country's development.

SOOALU SETU MUA: Our aim is to nurse and prepare Samoa for independence and to prepare Samoa to govern their own government. They need educated leaders to take over the leadership and government of Samoa with this New Zealand administration vision and in support of Samoan leaders' request for an independent Samoa. So that's why it's called Samoa College instead of calling it by the name of the village that it's located at. But Samoa College, that's the top school in Samoa and they're producing top results.

DON WISEMAN: Of Samoans who have gone on to make names for themselves in New Zealand, are many of them graduates of the school?

SSM: Yes, yes. Our guest speaker for the opening ceremony is Professor Albert Wendt. And when that name comes up in the education community of New Zealand all universities know it. He was the latest to be awarded the order of New Zealand award, the highest honour for us also, when the New Zealand government recognised our son of Samoa, Albert Wendt. And also he was the first Samoan principal of the college.

DW: Yes, when was he principal?

SSM: He was a principal there from 1969 to 1978.

DW: You're the president of SCOPA, the old pupil's association. They've got a big representation here in New Zealand and you're running a two-day long anniversary to mark the 60 years. What are you going to be doing?

SSM: Yes, on Friday 20 December, in the evening that's the opening ceremony. And we'll be showing some memory lane footage of the school from previous years. And there was a lot of church ministers who went to Samoa College. They would be the leaders of the service and guest speaker will Albert Wendt, and then a cocktail after. On the following day, Saturday, there will be sports - golf and some other sports - in Avondale. And on the same day we'll be having free medical health - we call this Health Outreach. Samoa College produces a lot of doctors, not only in Samoa, but they're working in New Zealand and some are working as doctors in other countries like Papua New Guinea, in Australia, in the UK. They are coming for holidays to New Zealand and providing that service to our community, not only for the Samoan community, but any other community for that day has a medical health check. It's quite expensive in some states, so we provide that service free of charge. And we'll celebrate the end with a night at the Pullman Hotel in Auckland city. We will have a dinner there to end our celebration for 60 years.