Colonial reign in Samoa

Colonial reign in Samoa 

Students look at how people have social, cultural, and economic roles, rights, and responsibilities and understand how time and change affect people’s lives 


(external link)

A still image from a video of Oriana Hansell-Pune, created by Emma Ala’alatoa-Dale, available at , 2015.


Oriana Hansell-Pune was born in New Zealand. Her dad was born in Samoa and Hansell, his last name, is German. She asks us to consider what might link her family’s story to the First World War. 

People have lived on and around the islands of Samoa for a very long time, since 1000–2000BC. After increasing contact with European traders and missionaries, Samoa was split into two countries in 1899. One part was then being controlled by the United States and the other by Germany. 

Within days of the First World War breaking out, New Zealand was asked to capture German Samoa on behalf of the British. This was so that Germany would not have a base in the South Pacific. The capture was peaceful, and New Zealand occupied this part of Samoa for the rest of the war. As part of the Treaty of Versailles at the end of the war, Western Samoa became part of New Zealand’s territory, but there was a lot of resistance from its inhabitants. On Black Saturday in 1929, at least eleven people were killed in protests in Western Samoa by New Zealand Military Police. 

It wasn’t until 1962 that Western Samoa became an independent nation again. Many people who live in Western Samoa, and people from that country who live in New Zealand or other parts of the world, have links to a German heritage. Western Samoa still has strong, and now friendly, ties with New Zealand. 


“Hello my name is Oriana Hansell-Pune. I was born in NZ. My dad was born in Samoa. My last name is Hansell, which is German. How is this possible and what has this got to do with WW1?”17 


Key questions 

What can we observe? 

What do we already know? 

How might people view this video in different ways? 


Possible discussion questions 

What do you wonder about when you watch this video of Oriana? 

Does your name have a story? What does your name tell about you and your family? What can you tell about other people from their names? 

What are some of the different cultures in your community? How are those different cultures celebrated and expressed in your community? 

Where did your family come from? How did different people end up living in New Zealand? 

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