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July 11 proclaimed ‘Samoan Flag Day’ in Hawai’i

Photo Credit
The Picture Lady/Miulan Nihipali

(Honolulu, HAWAI'I)--Thursday, July 11, 2013 has been declared Samoan Flag Day in Hawai’i, by a proclamation signed by Hawai’i Gov. Neil Abercrombie and Lt. Gov. Shan Tsutsui.

“Samoan Flag Day reaffirms the ties of friendship, culture and mutual esteem felt between the people of Hawai’i and Samoa,” says the proclamation dated June 20, 2013. “Samoan Flag Day encourages the Samoan community to demonstrate its distinguished record of civic achievement and pride in the home islands and adopted communities around the world, as well as celebrate Samoan song, dance, sports and education on Samoan culture and traditions.”

Samoan Flag Day 2013 will be celebrated July 11-13 at Ke’ehi Lagoon Park.

Among family members and supporters July 1, 2013, Lt. Gov. Tsutsui presented the proclamation to High Chief Alo Lupeomatasila F.A. Williams during a small ceremony at the State Capitol. Alo is president of the Atoa-o-Ali’i, a longstanding council of Samoan chiefs and orators in Hawai’i.

The Council has hosted what is simply referred to as ‘Flag Day’ by Samoans in Hawai’i – for 48 years.

Flag Day last July was held at the Hawai’i State Capitol. At the 2012 ceremony, Atoa-o-Ali’i bestowed the honorary title of “Atoa-o-AliifaimalaugaoSamoaiHawaii” upon then Honolulu Mayor Peter B. Carlisle.

“Samoan Flag Day commemorates the 113th anniversary of the raising of the American flag over the Territory of American Samoa on April 17, 1900, and the 48th anniversary of the Atoa-o-Ali’i celebrating the event in Hawai’i with the community,” reads the proclamation.

The Samoan archipelago was split in two as a result of an agreement made between Germany, the U.S. and Great Britain in the Tripartite Convention of 1899.

The western group (which is now the Independent State of Samoa) became a German colony and the eastern group (which is now American Samoa) became a colony of the U.S.

April 17, 1900, marks the signing of the Deed of Cession of Tutuila, between matai (chiefs) on Tutuila island and the United States government, that ceded Tutuila to the U.S.

Manu’atele, the Manu’a islands, ceded later, in 1904.

Tutuila, Manu’atele (Ta’u, Ofu, Olosega and Muli’ava islands), Aunu’u and Swains Islands comprise American Samoa.

The islands of Upolu, Savai’i, Manono and Apolima make up independent Samoa.

Gov. Abercrombie and Lt. Gov. Tsutsui ask the people of the Aloha State “to join us in recognizing and celebrating the men and women of Samoan ancestry the world over and particularly the Samoan community in Hawai’i for its unique contributions to the diverse and multicultural fabric of our State.”

Hawai’i Sen. J. Kalani English who represents District No. 7 (made up of of Hana, East and Upcountry Maui, Moloka’i, Lana’i and Kaho’olawe) also attended the July 1 gathering where Alo was presented the proclamation last week.

Rugby organizers Ma’afu Wendt and Kelly Wade McGill were also in attendance. Wendt is on the Board of Directors for Hawai’i Youth Rugby and president of Rugby Hawai’i Union. McGill, former University of Hawai’i football player, is a Rugby League player. He is a member of the USA Tomahawks, the country’s National Rugby League Team.

Wendt and McGill worked together to host the state’s first Samoa Independence Day Rugby Festival that saw competitions in youth rugby, women’s rugby and sevens rugby on June 1, 2013 at the Aloha Stadium. The festival culminated in an historic international rugby league test match between visiting Toa Samoa, and the USA Tomahawks. There is one player from American Samoa on the Tomahawks roster. Samoa beat USA 34-10.

The Samoa flag was raised, for the first time, at two locations on O’ahu June 1 marking 51 years since the country gained independence from New Zealand. One flag raising event was hosted by community group Leo o Tumua ma Pule in Kalihi and the second, at the rugby festival.

Last August, the Samoan Heritage Week Festival, coordinated by ASG, hosted a rugby sevens tournament that brought American Samoa’s fledgling Talavalu Rugby Sevens team to O’ahu. A spokesperson for the ASG Hawai’i office on Dillingham told tautalatala.com Heritage Week will not be held this year.

Talavalu bested Tama Laie 30-10, Friday, Aug. 10 in the Heritage Week Rugby Sevens title match at Ke’ehi Lagoon Park.

June will soon be proclaimed “Rugby Month” in Hawai’i by Gov. Abercrombie.

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