Deidre Tautua – Fanene
Visiting New Zealand Minister of Social Development Carmel Sepuloni, reflected proudly on the forgiving Samoan heart at the memorial service on Friday for all who died during the 1918 flu epidemic.
The re-dedication service at the mass burial grounds at Vaimoso was organised by New Zealand and it was one of the reasons for the Minister’s visit.
““It’s a reminder to us of Samoan’s capacity for forgiveness,” Sepuloni explained when asked for a reaction on the sad event.
Former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clarke apologised formally in 2002 for the epidemic reaching Samoan from New Zealand.
Sepuloni recalled with pride during the service that it was the Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi who accepted the apology.
““The capacity for Samoa to forgive is one of the things that makes me feel proud not only as a government minister for New Zealand but also as a Samoan as well.” the Minister reacted.
“We are remembering the loss of over 8,000 lives, 20 percent of the Samoan population died because of an illness that could have been avoided.
“ Unfortunately the reality is we know that New Zealand was at fault in the introduction of influenza at that time, so it is a very somber occasion.
The Minister felt it was an important as reminder of history as well as “…a time for us to reflect and be grateful for the fact that regardless of that we were still able to build and maintain a strong relationship between New Zealand and Samoa.”