Volume 110 2001 > Volume 110, No. 2 > Interethnic unions and the regulation of sex in colonial Samoa, 1830-1945, by Paul Shankman, p 119-148
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In a series of important essays, Stoler has explored the dynamics of interethnic sexual relationships in colonial Asia (1989a, 1989b, 1991, 1992; see also Cooper and Stoler 1995). Stoler discusses how the colonial presence defined class and gender relations and structured citizenship. She states that, “[c]olonial control was predicated on identifying who was ‘white’ and who was ‘native’, and which children could become citizens rather than subjects, designating who were progeny and who were not” (1991:53). Stoler focuses primarily on “concubinage” or cohabitation between European men and Asian women. Such relationships had social, political and economic dimensions that were not left to chance, but were carefully regulated by colonial authorities. As Dutch and French regimes in Asia consolidated their authority, relationships with indigenous women that had been allowed and approved were subsequently restricted, disapproved and forbidden. “Racial” or ethnic membership became a central preoccupation of these administrations, and this was true in the colonial Pacific as well.

Wherever Europeans settled during the colonial period, there was great interest in interethnic sexual relationships (Young 1995). Indeed, Hiery and MacKenzie have stated that “there can be no question that interaction between Europeans and Pacific islanders, Pacific islanders and Europeans, in all phases of contact history, was predominantly the contact between the two sexes” (1997:3). Although scholarly treatment of these unions has been limited, Sahlins discussed the role of interethnic unions in the transformation of the Hawaiian kapu system (1976,1985; see also Chappell 1992), and earlier studies by Valentine (1963), Keesing (1941) and Beaglehole (1949) explored interethnic unions during the colonial era for large areas of Oceania. New historical studies are pushing the frontiers of scholarship on this subject (Ralston 1989, Hamilton 1989, Claessen 1997, Gunson 1997, Hiery 1997a, Inglis 1997, Salesa 1997, Wareham 1997).

In Samoa, interethnic sexual relationships, ranging from brief informal liaisons to formal marriages, occurred throughout the colonial period. Gilson (1970) has cogently argued that as early as the latter half of the 19th century Samoa was already an ethnically stratified, multicultural society mediated in part by interethnic unions. These relationships helped to shape Samoan history. A number of influential Samoan political leaders - 120 were children or descendants of these unions, and the “half-caste” population came to play an important role in the Samoan economy. O. F. Nelson, the prominent trader and leader of the Mau in the 1920s and 1930s, is but one example. However, while sexual conduct among Samoans has received a great deal of attention recently, relationships between Samoans, Europeans, Chinese and Melanesians have received less coverage.

Throughout much of the 19th century, interethnic unions were common and acceptable in Samoa. But in the early 20th century, with the arrival of centralised colonial power, successive German and New Zealand regimes regulated, restricted and banned interethnic unions. Then, during the Second World War, the de facto presence of the American military occupation, involving tens of thousands of servicemen, altered the dynamics of these unions once more, allowing many interethnic relationships. The changing patterns of interethnic unions in colonial Samoa represent more than a linear trend of increasing colonial control and regulation; they suggest a complex mosaic of changing circumstances, desires and interests among those involved. This article reviews the broad history of these relationships from 1830 to 1945 2 and the forms they took in colonial Samoa, focusing on colonial perception of these relationships, attempts to regulate them, and the consequences of these unions in colonial law.


Samoa is usually regarded as the most “traditional” of Polynesian cultures. Yet beneath the surface of apparent cultural unity was a complex system of interethnic relationships that centred on the increasingly problematic status of the “half-caste” population. Of all the island colonies of Western Polynesia, Samoa had the most discriminatory policies against its “mixed race” group (Beaglehole 1949), and these colonial policies to some extent impeded the movement towards political independence (Davidson 1967). Interethnic relationships were a major concern of Samoa's colonial regimes, which established what Stoler has termed the “interior frontiers” of colonial society (1992:516). In Samoa, these frontiers involved a mix of class, rank, “race” and gender set against a history of accommodation and resistance, peaceful relationships and violence, harsh laws and their uneven implementation. Samoan tradition, including the Samoan system of courtship and marriage, both shaped and was reshaped by the colonial encounter.

Recent work by Jeannette Mageo (1996a, 1996b, 1998) and Samoan historians Malama Meleiseā (1987) and Damon Salesa (1997) provide an understanding of the Samoan context for interethnic unions (see also Shankman 1989). Meleiseā notes that, before European arrival, Samoans of chiefly rank had been intermarrying others of rank from Tonga, Fiji and - 121 Uvea as a means of forging political alliances, increasing their prestige, and sometimes as a requirement of chiefly exogamy when no suitable high-ranking Samoans were available (see also Kaeppler 1978). These interisland marriages, as well as the range of traditional marital and sexual relationships among Samoans, set precedents for Samoan-European interethnic relationships.

Traditionally, Samoan marriages took two forms. Chiefly marriages were arranged on the basis of competitive courtship and involved the formal exchange of gifts between high-ranking families. Public deflorations of taupou (ceremonial virgins) and other young women were part of these marriages. High-ranking chiefs could have multiple wives, as well as concubines, and they could dispense with earlier marriages in order to wed new taupou or other women. Intervillage visiting was often an occasion for pursuing courtship of new taupou and others, as well as for affairs.

A second form of marriage, common for people of lower rank and often the result of intervillage visiting parties, was avaga or elopement, sometimes referred to as fa'a Samoa marriage (Gilson 1970). A couple would elope clandestinely, usually to the husband's village, and begin living as husband and wife. This was a publicly accepted form of marriage, although it was not arranged by the respective families nor did it involve an exchange of gifts; such an exchange might take place after time had passed and tempers had settled. As with chiefly marriages, these unions were of varying duration. If they broke up, the wife and children usually returned to the wife's village and her family. Flexible cognatic descent allowed her children and descendants to be fully incorporated into the mother's kin network, while retaining rights to their father's family estate (Mageo 1998:133). In addition to these two forms of marriage, there were also clandestine affairs, although restrictions on higher-ranking girls and women made such affairs difficult and dangerous. 3

While Samoan custom and public ideology restricted sexual relationships to a greater extent than in pre-contact Hawai'i or Tahiti, premarital and extramarital relationships occurred (see Shankman 1996, Côté 1994, Schoeffel 1995). 4 Sexual relationships and marriage arrangements were, in part, a means of upward mobility, a way of gaining access to the social, economic and political resources of extended kin groups and their associated titles, and an important avenue for forging relationships with other extended kin groups. The higher-ranking the title of the kin group, the more important the marriages. Because the Samoan polity was not centralised but instead consisted of shifting, warring alliances, chiefly marriages were essential to alliance formation. Women were engaged by their families in cementing these relationships. Therefore high-ranking families were especially - 122 concerned with controlling their daughters' sexual conduct so that it might be most effectively deployed in the service of family interests. In this context, visiting parties from other villages or districts were often welcomed (Moyle 1984:252; see also Schoeffel 1995:100).


During the early years of colonisation, traditional forms of visiting, courtship and marriage provided culturally approved means for facilitating interethnic unions. Meleiseā reports that:

There were several instances recorded when Samoan men accompanied by women greeted visiting ships. It was the explicit customary role of the aualuma [the organisation of unmarried women] of the nu'u [village], led by ladies of rank, to welcome and entertain guests, with the implicit expectation that some matrimonial connections between visitors and hosts would result. For those of lower rank the connection might begin with eye contact between eligible young men and women and be pursued further during evening festivities (pōula). In the case of the taupou, the highest-ranking maiden of the nu'u, it was made clear that she was available to be courted as a wife by important chiefs (1987:157).

The Europeans who first settled the Samoan archipelago in the early 19th century were primarily beachcombers and castaways. Although considered to be of low status by other Europeans, these men had practical skills, such as boat building, the use and repair of guns, and knowledge of the wider world, that were of real value to Samoans (Bargatzky 1980, Meleiseā 1987:158). Girls were given in marriage to these men, some of whom had multiple wives, as well as mistresses and/or lovers. As additional Europeans—missionaries, traders and planters—settled the islands, Samoans realised that these recent arrivals were far more prestigious than the beachcombers, who eventually fell into disrepute. High-ranking marriages were arranged with many of these new and wealthy foreigners, and other less visible relationships were consummated (see Gilson 1970:143-44). The “part-European” descendants (as they are referred to in this article) of these relationships became the 'afakasi or totolua (two-blooded) population, sometimes known as “half-castes”, “mixed race”, “mixed blood”, “local Europeans”, or “part-Samoans”.

Because there was no centralised colonial government in Samoa until 1900, missionaries rather than secular officials were often the most important European representatives involved in regulating sexual conduct. First arriving in the 1830s, missionaries viewed the Samoan system of sexual conduct as a major barrier to conversion to Christianity. The system seemed in some - 123 ways to be formal and restrictive, yet in other ways accessible and permissive; missionary and travel accounts reflect these conflicting perceptions. 5 Thus, 19th century missionaries praised the recognition given to the taupou, or ceremonial virgin, while at the same time deploring polygyny, the role of the aualuma in intervillage visiting, ease of sexual access in living arrangements, concubinage, adultery, prostitution, public defloration and other aspects of this system (Gilson 1970:96, Davidson 1967:35).

Although missionaries made reform of Samoan sexual conduct their highest priority, they nevertheless had to work through local chiefs and village councils—the custodians of Samoan morality (see Bargatzky 1997)—and they had to accommodate the complex realities of Samoan decentralised yet hierarchical politics (Hamilton 1998). With so few missionaries, they could not realistically attempt far-reaching changes in Samoan sexual conduct overnight. There was also initial opposition from some of the Europeans already there as well as competition among the different denominations of missionaries.

More important, there were many more temporary European visitors interested in vice than missionaries interested in virtue. The Reverend A. W. Murray noted that during the mid-19th century as many as six whalers with “lawless” crews of 30 each could anchor at any one time in the port of Apia:

There they were—men of our own colour, speaking the same language with ourselves, and some of them our own countrymen, and claiming to be Christians, while giving themselves up to the most shameful immoralities, and telling the natives all manner of lies, so far as they could make themselves understood. … [W]e mourned over the moral havoc they wrought, and the influence in drawing the people away from schools and services (1876:41).

Strategic compromises were necessary, so initially missionaries sought to change “indecent” songs and dances, including those associated with intervillage visiting (see Moyle 1975:240-41, Mageo 1996b:34-40), but did not immediately attack, for example, polygyny or adultery. As Samoans quickly adopted Christianity, more changes were encouraged. The missionary ideal of monogamous Christian marriage would eventually become the Samoan ideal, although actual marriage practices by both Samoan and European Christians often departed considerably from this ideal. 6

In terms of interethnic unions, both Protestant and Catholic missionaries attempted to discourage most marriages between Europeans and Samoans (Hamilton 1998). But Samoans were quite capable of assessing their marriage prospects and would accept or reject European partners on their own. As Gilson states:

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The L.M.S. [London Missionary Society] generally opposed marriage of Samoans to Europeans, unless the latter were deemed to be of “good character” and intended to remain in the group or, if leaving, to take their families with them. Such conditions determined whether or not a European might be married in church. Sometimes the mission had sufficient influence to prevent fa'a-Samoa marriage of foreigners but if not there were still considerations of rank and exchange to be satisfied. A man who had neither valuable service nor 'oloa [marriage goods] to offer could not marry into a high-ranking family, if he could marry at all. And unless he continued in good standing in the community, his wife might desert him…. That does not necessarily mean, however, that foreigners were wholly deprived of female company (1970:143n.).

Due to the gradualist approach of the missionaries and their lack of authority, customary Samoan practices and European interests and desires continued to provide opportunities for interethnic unions.

Although German, American and English governments all found Samoa a worthy object of colonial competition in the late 19th century, and although there was a good deal of colonial intrigue, Samoans were not yet colonial subjects. Consuls were the only officials present, and they were primarily figureheads. They could attempt to encourage or discourage interethnic unions, but like the missionaries and naval ship captains, they had no singular authority to actually marry couples or prevent marriages (see Meleiseā 1987:159-60).

Ranking European visitors were usually treated with respect and courtesy, much like chiefs. And like chiefs they could receive customary hospitality, including visits with members of the aualuma (Schoeffel 1995:100). Apparently, former taupou might also participate. Consular official William T. Pritchard described how former taupou returned to their natal villages after their marriages to high-ranking chiefs were superseded by new chiefly marriages. These wives were not allowed to marry again without the permission of their husbands and became attached to local guest houses where they were expected, as part of the aualuma, to provide hospitality for visiting chiefs (Pritchard 1866:133-34; see also Moyle 1984:283). Visiting relationships were conventional from a Samoan perspective, but now members of the aualuma were available for relationships with Europeans. Although Europeans participated in these unions, they sometimes misunderstood their customary nature. Augustin Krämer, a German observer of Samoa in the 1890s, commented, “For that reason perhaps the Samoan women had a bad reputation in the South Seas regarding their morals” (1994:47). Krämer, however, believed that this reputation was unfounded and was the result of a misunderstanding of Samoan custom.

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These relationships were also noted by Harry J. Moors, a prominent American trader and businessman who lived in Samoa from the late 19th century through the early 20th century. Moors stated, “I have no doubt but that the moral standing of the Samoans was quite as high as that of any other of the Polynesian races…”, as a prelude to a description of how some former taupou, displaced by their husbands who had taken new marriage partners, could now be found in the dance halls of the port town of Apia (1986:35-36).

Indeed, interethnic unions were particularly common in the European area of Apia. In the latter part of the century, Europeans and a growing group of poorer “part-Europeans” clustered around the developing port town in an area called “the Beach”, known throughout the South Pacific for its grog shops and dance halls. Prostitution, gambling and drink were all available, much to the missionaries' dismay. Writing in 1892, Robert Louis Stevenson lamented that until recently, “the white people of Apia lay in the worst squalor of degradation” (1892:26). The port town was referred to as a “little Cairo” and a “hell in the Pacific” (Gilson 1970:179). Samoans were supplying dancing girls and “were said to be giving women in exchange for muskets” (Gilson 1970:180).

Because the vast majority of European men came to the islands without wives and were not permanent settlers, their relationships with Samoan women were typically short term. The temporary nature of many interethnic unions was not a major concern for Samoans who believed that desirable behavioural traits from another group could be acquired through conception of a child and that those traits would be fixed at conception. Having been transmitted, the traits would eventually become evident as the child matured, whether or not the non-Samoan parent was present. This belief also helps explain why children of interethnic unions could be readily absorbed into Samoan families, although it does not mean there was no discrimination against them by Samoans. 7 For a number of Europeans, however, “race mixing” had a very different meaning. They believed that these unions led to dysgenic “mongrelisation” of the children, bringing out the worst traits of each group.


By the late 1800s, “the Beach” was becoming more “civilised”. The European population had grown from only 55 in 1855 to almost 400 by the turn of the 20th century. Meleiseā notes “As the respectability and prosperity of European settlers increased, racial lines were more firmly drawn” (1987:160). When the Germans took control of Samoa in 1900, the pattern of interethnic relationships, along with a growing number of children and descendants, was already established.

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The arrival of the German administration coincided with two more general trends occurring throughout the colonies. First, more European men—planters, managers, missionaries and others—were bringing their European wives with them to the islands. And, second, during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, new ideologies, including racial superiority and pan-Germanism, were arriving in the islands. The increasing number of European men and women, now primarily German, and these new ideologies promoted “racial” categorisation. Indeed, laws reflecting racial ideology were enacted in the islands well before they were adopted in Germany. Thus, it was not until 1913 that German law required citizenship to be expressed through the idiom of “blood” descent (Linke 1997:561), but German colonial authorities in Samoa could deny the children of interethnic unions inheritance and voting rights on the basis of “blood” a decade earlier.

From a German legal perspective, the key issue concerning the children of European-Samoan unions was citizenship rather than race (Wildenthal 1995:266). From the 1870s, German citizenship was based on jus sanguinus or the law of a community of “descent” through the male line. On marriage, the man's citizenship replaced the woman's; her ancestry became unimportant. From a legal perspective, the relevant categories were citizen, foreigner and colonial subject rather than European, “part-European” and Samoan. In German law, the idea of “mixed race” was irrelevant because citizenship could not be “mixed”. In the colonies, however, “race mixing” was a more pressing concern. As a result, laws were enacted that did not have the approval of the German state or precedent in German law. Instead, officials in the colonies cited American anti-miscegenation laws as precedents (Wildenthal 1995:267).

The German colonial administration in Samoa, a civilian administration, was led by Governor Wilhelm Solf who wanted to protect Samoans from an influx of lower-class Europeans and, at the same time, protect resident Germans (some of whom were large plantation owners in the islands) from the dangers of “race mixing”. One of the first tasks of the new colonial government was to clarify who was European, or more specifically who was German, and who was not. In 1903, the administration passed laws defining the categories and rights of Europeans, “part-Europeans” and Samoans (Meleiseā 1987:162-63, Shankman 1989:225). Such attempts had also been made in the late 19th century (Salesa 1997). In German Samoa, children of legal European-Samoan marriages could be classified as nominal Europeans, having the status of resident aliens in the islands. That is, they were considered citizens of their European father's country of origin. Illegitimate “part-Europeans”, however, were legally prohibited from inheriting their father's estate and obtaining European status. Thus there were two types of “part-Europeans”. 8

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The different statuses of “part-Europeans” were the result of differing European attitudes about children of mixed parentage (Meleiseā 1987:155). On the one hand, a number of European fathers wished to differentiate their children from full Samoans by giving them a separate legal status, and they began doing so in the 1840s. The German regime recognised these marriages and legitimised their offspring. On the other hand, there were many more European men who had brief relationships or avaga marriages with Samoan women, were not permanent settlers and/or did not wish to acknowledge their children by a Samoan mother. So while some “part-European” children were officially registered and recognised as nominal Europeans, most children of interethnic unions were legally considered Samoans and were often raised primarily as Samoans.

“Part-Europeans” raised as Europeans typically went to special schools, where they learned a European language, were subject to a separate set of laws (allowing more and better education, and permitting alcohol consumption, for example), were more often involved with the cash economy as planters, traders or low-level government officials due to their education, and had a separate political status that allowed them to vote as individuals. To determine how many people had legitimate claims to European status, the German regime conducted a census. At the turn of the 20th century, there were 391 Europeans in Samoa on a permanent or semi-permanent basis out of a total population of about 33,000 (Cyclopedia of Samoa 1907:3). They constituted 1.2 percent of the total population in 1906. The “part-European” population was 2.4 percent of the population, while almost 90 percent of the remainder were considered full Samoans (Stanner 1953:33, Wareham 1997:188). Although “part-Europeans” were a very small percentage of the total population in the legal sense, they were part of the much larger “mixed-blood” population. Keesing cites one study estimating that, by the 1930s, more than 30 percent of the population had some “mixed-blood” (1934:456). If this figure is at all suggestive, interethnic relationships were far more common in reproductive terms than in legal terms.

Even the small, legally defined “part-European” population did not constitute a single economic class nor was it a homogeneous social community. 9 Their parents came from a range of backgrounds. European fathers had different nationalities, religions, class origins, skills, and commitments to the home countries, and different views of Samoans and the appropriateness of interethnic relationships. Samoan women and their families also came to these relationships from different chiefly ranks and with different expectations. Nevertheless, by the early 20th century, there was a small legal “part-European” middle and upper class, and a growing number of impoverished, landless, illegitimate, Apia-based “mixed-bloods” - 128 who were unfavourably regarded by the both European and legitimate “part-European” communities.

Many men brought up to think of themselves as European were not legally of this status, so they could not inherit the property and social position of their fathers, and these problems restricted their marriage prospects. Such men could marry “part-European” or Samoan women; they did not marry European women. “Part-European” women fared little better. They “faced the choice of casual sexual relations with white men (who were titillated by the mythical belief of the time that the natives were “hot blooded”), in the hope of eventual marriage; or marriage with other part-Samoans; or in the rarest of circumstances, marriage to Samoans—towards whom they had been taught to feel some degree of superiority” (Meleiseā 1987:161). A number of European men, including government officials, followed a pattern of taking “half-caste” wives (Rowe 1930:3) or mistresses. Their children, “mongrelised” in the eyes of Europeans as a result of “race mixing”, were often downwardly mobile.

Governor Solf wished to maintain the Europeans as a purely expatriate community, and attempted to prevent the growth of a locally established European class (Meleiseā 1987:169). Yet the legal categories the German colonial government created and the measures used to enforce these categories, along with a growing number of “part-Europeans”, led to a situation in which many “mixed blood” could not legally become Europeans and were resented by Europeans and legal “part-Europeans” alike. At the same time, the limited special privileges of “part-Europeans” led to Samoan resentment. Because government policy promoted separate development for Samoans and Europeans, the poorer “mixed bloods” were discriminated against by the European community and were often disliked by Samoans as well.

From its inception, the German colonial administration (1900-1914) frowned on European-Samoan unions and passed legislation to discourage such unions (Meleiseā 1987:169, Wareham 1997). As a practical matter, however, this proved difficult. German men constituted almost half of the European population in Samoa at the turn of the century, and there were a number of pre-existing German-Samoan unions. German settlers with Samoan wives and “part-European” children quickly protested, responding that Samoans were not racially “inferior” and that a number of “part-Europeans” were prosperous planters and traders rather than wayward “half castes”. One German member of the Association of Racial Hygiene, trying to spread his racial views in the islands, had to be taken into protective custody to prevent his being tarred and feathered in public (Hiery 1997b:318).

Some German-Samoan parents were so concerned about discrimination against their offspring in Germany that they sent their children to school in - 129 America and New Zealand, fearing insults and intimidation in their European homeland. As a consequence of these concerns, policies in the islands were modified. 10 While attempting to restrict interethnic unions, new laws acknowledged their reality, allowing children to become nominally European and, in the case of illegitimate children, making European fathers more responsible for their “mixed-race” offspring by providing support for them to age 14 and requiring them to provide education and training for their children (Meleiseā 1987:169). Although Governor Solf personally despised and discouraged interethnic unions, they were usually not prosecuted (Meleiseā 1980:4; see also Wildenthal 1995, Hempenstall and Mochida 1998). Nevertheless, in 1910 interethnic marriages in Samoa were completely prohibited (Wareham 1997:138-42).

A related problem for the German regime developed around Samoan-Chinese and Samoan-Melanesian relationships that resulted from the importation of Chinese and Melanesian men to meet labour shortages on large plantations (see Tom 1986, Liua'ana 1997, Meleiseā, 1980). Although interested in preserving Samoan “racial purity” as well as their own, the German colonial administration realised that the colony's prosperity depended on cheap plantation labour, and it acquiesced when planters demanded additional Chinese “coolie” labourers. In 1903, the importation of more than 2000 Chinese male labourers, who were forbidden to bring their wives, began. Soon Chinese outnumbered Europeans and legal “part-Europeans”. Considered inferior and often treated badly, the Chinese were temporary labourers, unable to own land, and required to return to China on completion of their contracts. Officials assumed that such constraints would limit Chinese-Samoan relationships. When it became evident that interethnic unions were occurring nonetheless, the German administration passed laws prohibiting Chinese labourers from setting foot in Samoan houses as well as forbidding Samoan women from entering Chinese quarters. These laws were only partially successful, and Chinese-Samoan unions would pose a major problem for the subsequent New Zealand colonial regime.


Racial separation intensified during the later colonial period under New Zealand rule. Like the previous German regime, the New Zealand colonial administration brought with it the hierarchical and exclusionist racial attitudes of the metropolis (Boyd 1987, Field 1984). Initially, however, the New Zealand presence seemed benign. The New Zealand regime began in 1914 as a temporary military operation under nominal British authority. Samoa was the first German territory to be occupied as a result of the First - 130 World War, and it remained a peaceful refuge from the ravages of war. But the occupation brought an inordinately large number of New Zealand troops—over 1400—who quickly became bored. Looking for alcohol, hundreds of soldiers ransacked German stores in Apia on Christmas Eve 1914. During their stay, they also assaulted Samoan women, creating tension between Samoan male youth and New Zealand soldiers, and leading the high ranking Samoan chief, Tupua Tamasese Lealofi III, to warn the New Zealand administrator, Colonel Logan, that further mistreatment of Samoan women would have severe consequences (Hiery 1992:57). Troops were gradually reassigned as it became clear that war itself would not reach the islands, and tension abated.

As the war ended, the demography of Samoa changed markedly. Not only were New Zealand soldiers repatriated, Germans who had been interned in Samoa during the First World War were deported. In 1914, of the roughly 600 Europeans in the islands, 373 were Germans (Hiery 1992:54). In 1920, after the war, almost 400 Germans were deported (Hiery 1995:400), significantly altering the European population. Only Germans with Samoan wives were allowed to stay, and this was due to their wives' intervention with the government. More significant, demographically and politically, was the great influenza epidemic of 1918, which devastated the Samoan population, killing almost 20 percent of Samoans and undermining support for the New Zealand occupation (Tomkin 1992).

In 1920, New Zealand received an exclusive League of Nations mandate to govern Samoa, but Samoan opposition was already galvanising. The new regime was paternalistic and not well prepared to govern the islands as the influenza epidemic had demonstrated. 11 In protest against the colonial policies of New Zealand, the Mau (opposition) was formed; it was the first anti-colonial movement of the 20th century to ask for self-governance (Hiery 1992:69). The Mau was a large, very popular political organisation headed by full Samoans, “part-Europeans”, and Europeans with Samoan wives. The administration, viewing the Mau as a threat and unable to control hundreds of Mau “police”, responded by increasing its military presence.

In May 1928, 74 New Zealanders were imported for the newly created Samoa Military Police. Their presence did not really impede the activities of the Mau, but these New Zealanders did enter a number of interethnic unions. Many of the Samoa Military Police had been unemployed servicemen and were not well thought of by the European community in Samoa, including middle-class women. These men therefore sought relationships with Samoan women. Yet they would soon discover that there was a broad colonial statute prohibiting marriage to Samoans by any temporary immigrants or sojourners to the islands. They were thus unable to marry the - 131 only women available to them. George Westbrook, a long-time resident of the islands whose wife was Samoan and who was himself a participant in the Mau, wrote: “A few, I believe became attached to those women with whom they were intimate and would have married them. Others abused the hospitality of those who entertained them and seduced their daughters” (Letter dated July 1933, quoted in Field 1984:126).

To satisfy the needs of his men, Colonel Allen, the senior New Zealand administrator at the time, recommended that his “white” staff in the Office of Native Affairs be given the opportunity to find female companionship away from Samoa in order to avoid the possibility of interethnic relationships in the islands. As for those New Zealanders already married to Samoans, Allen felt they should be forced out of the service because they had “lowered” themselves to the level of their wives, occasionally referring to some of these women as “whores” (Field 1984:126). In fact, officials in interethnic marriages were often denied promotion; nor were they and their wives invited to official functions where European couples were present. In the small European community based in Apia, they became pariahs.

The rationale for preventing European-Samoan marriages was elucidated by Colonel Richardson, Allen's predecessor, who warned of their deleterious effects on the European male:

His outlook is a gloomy one, for after the first flush of romance is past he quickly realises that he has made a serious error, that his physically attractive young wife is mentally unsuited to make him a help mate or congenial companion, while his half breed children serve to remind him that he is permanently isolated from that which is so dear to the white man—his home and native country.

With no hope of leaving the tropics and little prospects [sic] of his half caste children becoming a credit and honour to himself owing to the drawbacks from which they suffer on account of the uneugenic mating of the parents, the European father finds himself drawn back into the Native or semi-Native circle, and ultimately gives up the struggle to maintain the prestige of his race (Letter dated Feb. 1928, quoted in Field 1984:122).

Like the German regime before it, the New Zealand administration in Samoa reiterated the dangers of tropical temptation and dissipation for Europeans, viewing the islands' influence as enervating while stressing the necessity of close and continuing contact with the home country for the maintenance of European morale. 12 Fraternisation with Samoans was officially discouraged because it was equated with “going native” (Keesing and Keesing 1956:192).

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In other respects, the legal regulation of interethnic unions under New Zealand rule was quite similar to the German regime preceding it. Similar criteria were used to define the category of “part-Europeans” or “Europeans of part-Samoan ancestry”; they were: “(a) the legitimate descendants in the male line of Europeans; (b) persons with no more than 50% Samoan blood who petition the Court for European status; (c) persons not of Samoan status whose male ancestors have not more than 75 percent of Polynesian blood” (Beaglehole 1949:55). These criteria created obvious anomalies. Situations arose “where a person may be denied European status because his father was a full Samoan, but granted this status if his father was a full Chinese …” (Beaglehole 1949:55); in other words no European “blood” was required to be a “part-European”.

Moreover, because one's racial status immediately influenced the kind and amount of schooling one received, hospital care, voting rights, court status, pay scales, access to social events and other facets of life, many people classified as Samoans wished to become “part-Europeans”. Just as under the German regime, petitioning of the court could change one's racial classification and many people took this opportunity. The legally classified “part-European” proportion of the population increased from 2.4 percent in 1903 to 7.1 percent following the Second World War. An unintended consequence of these laws was an increase rather than a decrease in the “part-European” population.

In addition to laws governing interethnic marriages, the New Zealand regime also passed laws governing marriage among Samoans themselves. The administration believed that avaga should be forbidden for Samoan couples and, in 1926, the government prohibited these marriages with backing from the dominant Protestant missions. The regime justified the new law by stating that Samoans themselves had requested this change, although a government report indicates otherwise (Rowe 1930:202; see also Meleiseā 1987:170). Many Samoans, including those already married by Samoan custom, rushed to have Christian ceremonies to legitimate their avaga unions. But problems arose, and beyond a brief surge in Christian marriages, it seems that this law was largely symbolic, not strictly enforced, and eventually ignored by all parties.


The interethnic unions that were of greatest concern to the New Zealand regime were the Chinese-Samoan unions that had been so vexing to the Germans. When New Zealand occupied Samoa at the outset of the First World War, there were almost 2200 Chinese labourers, while Melanesian labourers numbered another 878. Like the Germans, New Zealanders were deeply concerned about the racial “pollution” of - 133 Samoans by the Chinese and Melanesians. German laws against Chinese labourers entering Samoan houses and against Samoan women entering Chinese labourers' quarters were revived by the New Zealand regime in 1917. New Zealanders also began repatriation efforts almost immediately. By 1918 the number of Chinese remaining in Samoa was only 838; the number of Melanesians had been reduced to 200. Nevertheless, in 1920 the colonial administration, now entirely in New Zealand hands, was still troubled by the spectre of “race-mixing”, and the regime imposed a strict law forbidding Samoan-Chinese marriages altogether. Government officials also encouraged Samoans to endorse their views of the Chinese “race menace”; a number already had done so independently. Despite these efforts, the European leaders of the Mau accused the New Zealand regime of allowing the settlement of Chinese and Melanesians, thereby polluting the Samoan “race” (Meleiseā 1980:43).

Newton A. Rowe, a New Zealand District Officer in Samoa during the mid-1920s, believed that even a reduced number of Chinese could cause racial “contamination” and were “Samoa's most present menace” (1930:269-70). He estimated that Samoan-Chinese children numbered between 1000 and 1500 out of a total population of about 40,000. Despite colonial restrictions on the interaction of Chinese men and Samoan women and the ban on intermarriage, avaga marriages were taking place, children were being born, and these unions presented “no difficulties at all” for Samoans (1930:271). Rowe was upset that the Samoan custom of living together as a married couple was subverting legal efforts by the government to prevent these relationships, and that Samoans themselves were active participants in what he thought of as the “demise” of their own “race”. He was also frustrated that government warnings to Samoan-Chinese couples were ignored and that the law banning these interethnic marriages was not strictly enforced.

Samoan-Chinese relationships were not only banned in law, they were also frowned upon by Christian churches which had not proselytised among the Chinese because they were considered temporary labourers. Why then were Samoans interested in these relationships? From a coloniser's perspective, as Rowe recounts, Chinese husbands treated their wives well and were reliable providers. “The main attraction of living with the Chinese is that the coolies give the greater part of their money to the women, who are allowed to live in complete idleness, the Chinaman even doing such housework as is done” (Rowe 1930:271). Colonel Tate, a senior New Zealand administrator, suggested that “Samoan women recognise the Chinese as better husbands than Samoan men” (in Meleiseā 1987:172). Rowe also noted that family interests played a role, remarking that: “For their attitude in the matter the parents of the girls are perhaps to be blamed. But there is something - 134 of the procurer and procuress in most parents. And an alliance with a foreigner is likely to be beneficial to a family in Samoa” (1930:271).

Although repatriation of Chinese labourers was a priority for the New Zealand regime, like the German regime before it, the New Zealand administration needed to preserve the economic viability of the large plantations, and so importation of Chinese men was resumed and continued until 1934. More Chinese-Samoan relationships developed. In 1939, there was an administrative crackdown on these unions when 34 Chinese-Samoan couples were arrested. The men were sentenced to three months in prison and the women three days (Tom 1986:97). After other arrests, some men were deported to China; their Samoan wives were not allowed to go with them because they were not legally married. Of the Chinese-Samoan couples who remained in Samoa, their relationships would not be legally recognised until 1961, when their children also became legitimate. In contrast, European-Samoan unions were disapproved by the New Zealand regime and were forbidden for temporary settlers, but couples were not arrested, prosecuted, jailed and deported.


The differential treatment of Samoans, “part-Europeans” and Europeans involved in legally punishable sex offences provides another window on interethnic unions during the New Zealand colonial era. Samoan sexual assaults on European women were the ultimate violation of colonial propriety. In 1922, there was a highly publicised rape in which a Samoan man assaulted a European woman as she walked home from her work at the local hospital. The Samoan was sentenced to life imprisonment in New Zealand. Beyond this punishment, the European women of Apia called for a public flogging to raise the issue of public safety and to set an example for other Samoans. The flogging did not occur, but European outrage over the rape persisted. For their part, Samoans observed that for the same crime involving a Samoan assailant and a Samoan woman the penalty was about five years in a Samoan jail (Rowe 1930:133). This double standard was another source of Samoan grievance against the New Zealand government.

A related problem with the colonial standard of justice involved European sexual misconduct against Samoans, in which crimes by New Zealand officials and other Europeans went unpunished, further angering Samoans. Such incidents were documented in an official New Zealand Government report in 1929, responding to complaints by the Mau, and were highlighted in a well-known document entitled “An Appeal to the Bishops and Clergy of New Zealand”. J. Westbrooke, Treasurer of the New Zealand Samoan Defence League, reported that:

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…a native woman was forcibly violated within a month of her confinement by a Government official (who was already the father of half-caste illegitimate children) and that this man escaped to American Samoa in the Government launch whence he took a ship to foreign parts and thus avoided punishment and paternal responsibilities.

…a school teacher from New Zealand placed in charge of the important boys school at Vaipouli became notorious for… evil [homosexual] practices against morality and decency. He was removed to another school near Apia where he continued his vile acts, although his shocking behavior, both at Vaipouli and Apia, must have been well known to the Administration at the time he was returned to New Zealand. The facts of this man's evil life must have been suppressed for on his return he was appointed to a school in the South Island where he continued his evil ways and ended in murdering his own wife and taking his own life (in Rowe 1930:310).

In calling for an investigation into these matters, Westbrooke appealed to colonial sensibilities, asking: “Can you, as a servant of Christ, remain silent or inactive while such dreadful changes are made against our fellow citizens? Can you be deaf to the cry of outraged women and of children despoiled of their natural heritage brought unwanted into life to satisfy bestial lust?” (in Rowe 1930:311).

Other scandals were listed as well, one of which was already known to the American reading public as a result of an article entitled “Serpents in Eden” published in Asia magazine (1925). The author was David Flaherty, the brother of Robert Flaherty, who filmed the classic documentary film Moana of the South (1926) in the village of Safune on the island of Savai'i in the 1920s. Flaherty spends much of the article discussing the making of “Moana” and the village's German trader, a man named Bauer, as well as his half-caste son by a Tongan mother. Bauer controlled eight village stores, apart from his own, on Savai'i and was thus quite well-to-do by Samoan standards. He emphasised to the Flahertys how important it was that he behave as a European.

Bauer's private conduct, unbeknown to the Flahertys for much of their stay, eventually led to accusations of “unmentionable debauchery” with the “natives”. These accusations forced Bauer to leave Savai'i for Apia where he became an outcaste among Europeans and “part-Europeans” alike. Even worse, according to Flaherty and others, the New Zealand Resident Commissioner of Savai'i, a well-known public drunk, was accused of homosexual “degeneracy” with Samoan youths, prisoners, and police. In the face of a second administrative hearing to review the charges, the official committed suicide (Rowe 1930:181,310). This case was used by the Mau as an example of the New Zealand administration's allegedly flagrant - 136 disregard for the welfare of Samoans. As David Flaherty noted, there were so few Europeans on Savai'i that each one counted, and the denouement of two prominent Europeans was quite visible to Samoans and Europeans alike.

European sexual conduct outside the boundaries of tolerated relationships was a volatile issue, but these scandals faded into the background as the political conflict between the Mau and the colonial government escalated, culminating in “Black Saturday”, 28 December 1929. On that day the Mau was marching peacefully in Apia when military police opened fire. Eleven Samoans were killed, including a leader of the highest rank, Tupua Tamasese Lealofi III; many others were wounded. For the next few years, the government pursued the leadership of the Mau, conducting police raids on villages, imprisoning and deporting leaders, and further polarising the population. Most Samoans withdrew into village life under Mau leadership. During the years of tension and distrust in the late 1920s and early 1930s, interethnic unions were not only discouraged, they were made difficult by the strained relationship between New Zealanders and Samoans. Then, in the late 1930s, a new, more conciliatory, policy was initiated and relations between Samoans and New Zealanders improved.


If interethnic unions between Samoans and Europeans were muted during the late 1920s and 1930s, they became most common and most visible during the Second World War. The war years were a period of major change in the islands, including a dramatic increase in interethnic unions. Tens of thousands of American military personnel occupied both Western Samoa and American Samoa from 1942 through 1945, overwhelming the local New Zealand presence as well as the Samoans. The Americans became the de facto colonial presence in the islands, and their agenda was quite different from New Zealand's. W. E. H. Stanner, a post-war observer, described the situation as follows:

Before the main body of troops moved to forward areas in 1943-44 there may have been as many as 25,000 or 30,000 troops in Western Samoa at any one time. The turnover, of course, was much higher because of transfer of units and movement of reinforcements. The troops were dispersed throughout the islands, many defended zones were constructed, and there was an enormous temporary building programme. The troops concentrated in camps or bivouacs along the coastline, in the main areas of native settlement, so that segregation was impracticable…. The Samoan islands experienced immensely heightened activity, intimate contact with Europeans en masse, and economic “prosperity,” all in a degree greater than in any previous period in their history (1953:325-26).

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The military needed Samoan labour and Samoan products; 2600 Samoans were initially employed by the Americans (Boyd 1969a:185). Samoans also quickly became effective small traders, restaurant and café owners, and brewers of crude but potent spirits, leading to increases in Samoan income. Mary Boyd comments:

Wine, beer and spirits were manufactured from cocoa washings and sold at great profit. Gambling, drinking, promiscuity, and prostitution flourished. Samoan relations with the Americans were notably more friendly, hospitable and generous than with New Zealanders… (1969a: 185).

In terms of Samoan culture, “some native ceremonies were cheapened, and in cases debauched, to attract gift-bearing Americans. A few matai [chiefs] appointed new taupo virgins, as often as not girls lacking the technical attributes, to assist hospitalities” (Stanner 1953:326). More generally, “during the military occupation men fraternized very freely with native people, approaching them, accosting them, using their houses as sprawling huts, doing violence to one cherished courtesy after another with complete indifference. The barriers were down, and easy association became epidemic…” (Stanner 1953:327-28).

Wartime interethnic unions were common. Stanner states:

A great deal of sexual promiscuity occurred between Samoan or part-Samoan women and American troops. Responsible Samoans said that actual prostitution was restricted to a very small group of women. Romantic, at least friendly, relationships are very common. One mission society reported that in Upolu alone there were 1,200 known instances of illegitimate children by American soldiers from Samoan girls. The official statistics were not revealed, but put the number of known illegitimate children much lower. Only a few incidents were caused by the jealousy of Samoan men, and not much was made of them by either side. Some villages were said to have set up a special curfew for their girls, and at Falefa (near Apia) no troops except officers on business were allowed to enter fale [houses]. With troops so widely dispersed in an area so densely settled it is impossible to prevent familiar association. Many soldiers regularly visited girlfriends within the villages, by no means only with single intention, but the entrance-gates to the airport, it was said, became known among Samoans as “the gates of sin.” At least one matai [chief] was summarily expelled from his church congregation and from the society of the village on suspicion of procuring girls for prostitution (1953:327).

Other accounts of wartime Samoa also mention that interethnic relationships were common (Keesing and Keesing 1956:195, Boyd - 138 1969a: 185), although many villages away from bases and roads had little contact with foreign troops. In areas where relationships took place, young women were allowed and even encouraged by their families to enter into these relationships, with contact to a large degree under the control of parents and the village.

James Michener (1992) reports in a discreet but detailed manner his own participation in one such relationship. As a lieutenant, Michener was responsible for base security. Early in his Western Samoan tour, he found a base where, during the day, 60 to 72 American men were on duty, whereas at night there were only six. Concerned about security, Michener learned that military vehicles took the men to villages at dusk, where they were dropped off to rendezvous with their Samoan girlfriends for the evening. Michener saw firsthand that these evening arrangements were openly welcomed by the Samoans. In the morning, servicemen were picked up and returned to their base. Michener himself was invited by a high-ranking Samoan chief to enter into such a relationship with his daughter and father her child (1992:38-40). As a result of his involvement, Michener felt so compromised that he never reported these relationships to his superior officers.

Jeannette Mageo (1996a) finds that Samoan girls were actively interested in American servicemen. During the war, some girls abandoned their Samoan boyfriends to be with military personnel. Mageo comments that, in an earlier era, sexual activity by lower-ranking Samoan girls was tolerated as long as it served family interests. But, since the 19th century, Christianity had made them more receptive to individualised love. In conjunction with the overwhelming presence of American men, earlier family constraints were compromised and undermined, and interethnic unions were common. Mageo (1996b:47) also reports that girls who had been involved in these relationships independently of family wishes, lost status if they were later deserted. After the war, some of these young women, pregnant by American boyfriends, were criticised by their families. However, interethnic offspring were usually accepted into Samoan families, even as discriminatory legal consequences were imposed on these children by New Zealand colonial authority.

The dramatic increase in interethnic unions during the war suggests that external political and economic changes strongly influenced the forms that these unions took. Moreover, the same relationships that elsewhere in Polynesia were of little ethnic consequence were of greater importance in Samoa. If Samoans had relatively few problems with interethnic relationships during the war, afterwards the New Zealand colonial government continued to discriminate against “mixed bloods”, who were a growing proportion of - 139 the population. According to Beaglehole, at this time Samoa had the least tolerance for “mixed bloods” in all of Western Polynesia. He comments:

The position [of “mixed bloods”] in western Samoa is very different from the tolerant eastern Pacific. Much of this difference must be due to the fact that German, British, and under Mandate, New Zealand administration has, unlike the French, introduced into Samoa the racial consciousness and prejudice of Anglo-Saxon colonial society. Successive censuses have set up statistical and social distinctions which have resulted in Samoa in the development of a segregated social group, known officially as Europeans of part-Samoa [sic] ancestry. Some 93 per cent of this group consist of local born part-Samoans, mixed bloods who would have disappeared into the native societies of French Oceania and the Cook Islands, but who remain in Samoa as an artificial group creating strain and tension in the whole of Samoan society…. The part-Samoan thus suffers from a number of serious disadvantages, and is in return privileged to enjoy the doubtful value of being a European, but a European with a big difference, a second-rate European in other words who enjoys less favourable wages and other conditions of employment than personnel recruited from Zealand (1949:54-55).

Although a step above full Samoans, many “mixed bloods” resented their status and desired the privileges of full Europeans. The continuing sense of separateness and discrimination against the “part-European” population would be one of the most important issues facing the emerging new nation of Western Samoa, which became an independent country in 1962 (Beaglehole 1949, Davidson 1967). Through major changes in the law about political representation and during the course of the “Samoanisation” of political development, these problems were largely overcome by independence (Davidson 1967, Shankman 1989, Tcherkézoff n.d., Boyd 1969b).

This article has provided a broad overview of interethnic unions and the regulation of sex in Samoa during the colonial period through the Second World War. In the 19th century, these unions in a variety of forms were accepted and approved by both Europeans and Samoans. Traditional exogamous marriage practices and visiting parties associated with courtship facilitated relationships between Samoans and Europeans. These relationships would have been far less frequent had Samoan culture secluded women, emphasised ethnic endogamy and heavily stigmatised the children of interethnic unions. The absence of a centralised colonial - 140 government allowed interethnic unions to occur without excessive external interference.

During the early 20th century, however, the establishment of the German colonial regime brought more substantial effort to systematically regulate these relationships through administrative classification, the census, and legal sanctions that officially restricted sexual and marriage possibilities and prescribed the legal status of children on the basis of “race”. 13 These regulations were fundamental in promoting the new colonial order. But these efforts, like those of the missionaries before them, had their limitations. Interethnic unions continued to be authorised and approved by Samoan families using existing Samoan institutions and understandings.

Samoans actively sought unions with Europeans, Chinese and other Pacific islanders, and they used these unions to their advantage where possible. Some unions were more desirable than others, and Samoans themselves could discriminate against certain groups and their descendants. Yet, it was the German and New Zealand colonial administrations and the European population in Samoa that officially marginalised many “part-European” offspring and that were most concerned with restricting interethnic unions.

The colonial encouragement of “racial” exclusivity and European ethnic endogamy during early decades of the 20th century was not unique to Samoa, but was apparent throughout the South Pacific region at that time. As Felix Keesing noted:

Over the South Seas as a whole, indeed, social influences… have been at work in the past quarter century to limit intermixture, even in Polynesia… [F]uller transplanting of social customs of the homelands have brought attitudes of racial exclusiveness and prejudice that exist in the settled home societies. The tendency has been, therefore, for new marriages between white and native to be frowned on increasingly, and for those so married, along with their part-native descendants, to be edged subtly or otherwise out of the inner circle of non-native society. When outsiders still marry persons of native ancestry, their choice falls among part natives with small fractions of island blood rather than within the full or predominantly native groups (1941:55-56).

So it was that interethnic relationships that had been allowed and encouraged by both Samoans and Europeans before political consolidation became regulated, discouraged and punished during German and New Zealand colonial rule. When the Americans overwhelmed the islands during the Second World War with a very different agenda, interethnic unions increased markedly. These changing patterns, sometimes occurring over a - 141 very brief period of time, suggest that the “interior frontiers” of colonial society were not precisely fixed but somewhat flexible. Nevertheless, control of these unions and their offspring was a vital issue in the formation of the colonial state in Samoa.


I would like to thank the following individuals for their comments and suggestions on earlier versions of this article: Dennis McGilvray, Cluny Macpherson, Martin Orans, Tim O'Meara, James Côté, Serge Tcherkézoff, Thomas Bargatzky, Jeannette Mageo, Charles Piot, Donna Goldstein, Paulette Foss, Andrew Weissman, Ben Kobashigawa, and anonymous reviewers for this journal.

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An Anthropology of the Subject
Holographic Worldview in New Guinea and Its Meaning and Significance for the World of Anthropology
Roy Wagner

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—Steven Feld, author of Sound and Sentiment

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1   A word of caution to readers of this article; the subject matter of Samoan colonial history and sexual conduct is complex and intricate. An article of this length cannot incorporate much of the available material. I have therefore tried to highlight major points rather than providing the finer detail that a much longer piece would require. In organising the material, I have used a conventional European chronology and focused primarily on European colonial perceptions of interethnic unions. While not neglecting Samoan conceptions of history, and their classifications and perceptions of these unions, as well as the “layering effects” of time on culture (Schoeffel 1999:143), the perspective chosen has influenced the materials incorporated herein. Manderson and Jolly (1997) have commented on the limits of this perspective and alternatives to it. For recent thinking of Samoan views of history, see Meleiseā (1995), Schoeffel (1995, 1999), Tamasese (1994), Hempenstall (1997) and Linnekin (1997). For Samoan views of sexual conduct, courtship and marriage, see Meleiseā (1987), Mageo (1996a, 1996b) and Moyle (1975). This article can also be read in conjunction with my earlier article on the taupou system and the history of Samoan sexual conduct (1996); see also Shankman (1989) and Côté (1994).
In this article, Samoa refers to the country and area formerly known as Western Samoa. In 1997, the parliamentary government of Western Samoa voted to approve a change in the name of the country to Samoa.
2   Due to space limitations, I have not covered the final years of colonial rule in Samoa (1946-62). See Tcherkézoff (n.d.) and Boyd (1969b).
3   In Samoa, the use of the term “girls” refers to unmarried women and is not intended to be pejorative.
4   The most detailed early account of Samoan sexual conduct comes from the missionary John Williams and is based on his visits in 1830 and 1832. He found that premarital and extramarital relationships were common and that Samoans were more like the permissive Tahitians than the restrictive Tongans (Moyle 1984:233-34,256). Captain Charles Wilkes visited the islands within a decade of Williams, but stated that in Samoa, unlike Tahiti, there was “no indiscriminate intercourse” and that women were chaste (1845:73,125). Wilkes also argued that “strict fidelity” in marriage was observed and that adultery was formerly punished with death (1845:125,138). Williams related that he had heard of the high value placed on marital fidelity, but commented that his own observations led him to seriously doubt that this was so (Moyle 1984:233). Wilkes, however, did note that while premarital sex for Samoan women with Samoan men was a “reproach”, this was not the case with “strangers” (1845:138). Derek Freeman (1983), Bradd Shore (1982), Tim O'Meara (1991), Paul Cox (1997) and Richard Goodman (1983) have discussed Samoan sexual restrictions in their contemporary forms, as well as some of the strategies used in circumventing them.
5   There were many sources of misunderstanding. As Felix Keesing noted: “What in the eyes of whites appears as lax conduct in some matters is counterbalanced by prudery that by Western standards seems harmless. Conversely, in native eyes, whites are brazenly immoral in many ways, such as disregarding a brother-sister taboo, and incomprehensibly prudish in others. Furthermore, during the history of contact, the incoming whites have shown themselves anything but consistent in precept and behaviour” (1941:189).
6   Thus, while Christianity was having a substantial impact in reforming some areas of Samoa belief and behaviour, it was less successful in other areas (Côté 1994:64-99).
7   I am indebted to Cluny Macpherson for making this point (see also Mageo 1998:133). While most interethnic offspring were absorbed into Samoan kin groups, this was not always the case. The children of Samoan-Melanesian unions were often only partially incorporated (Meleiseā 1980:48).
8   The best overviews of the “part-European” community can be found in Meleiseā (1987:155-82), Salesa (1997), Wareham (1997), Davidson (1967) and Gilson (1970).
9   A sense of the diverse nature of the “part-European” population can be found in Fay Alailima's biography of the legendary Aggie Grey (1988) which covers a variety of relationships from arranged marriages to clandestine affairs in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Aggie Grey was the proprietor of the islands' most famous hotel and represented the small upper-tier of the “part-European” population.
10   For a discussion of German colonial influence on sexual conduct in Melanesia and Micronesia, see Hiery (1997b).
11   Part of the problem may have to do with the different world views of New Zealanders and Samoans. Felix Keesing, himself a New Zealander, noted that his countrymen of that era emphasised egalitarianism, frugality, puritan sexual standards, and frowned on ostentatious public displays (1956:192). Samoans were often just the opposite, and had “considerably less repression of emotional reactions and less insistence on puritan codes in many aspects of the sex roles” (1956:196). Keesing repeatedly heard Samoans say that New Zealanders “seem to get so little fun out of life” (1956:193).
12   The administration's fear of Samoan laughter and ridicule was so great that films shown in the islands were censored to maintain appearances. Comedies were a special source of concern since administrators reasoned that any European portrayed in films as a fool would be considered by Samoans as a symbol of all Europeans (Field 1984:69). For a very different view of the New Zealand regime, see Campbell (1999).
13   Recent historical work on the German colonial period in Samoa notes the importance of the specific evolution of the German civil service, the nature of German colonial rule in Samoa in the early 1900s (Hiery 1992,1995,1997a; Wareham 1997), the relationship between Governor Solf and the missionaries (Laracy 1978), and the career of Solf himself (Hempenstall and Mochida 1998). The German colonial presence in Samoa differed from German rule in Micronesia and Melanesia at the same time, and was very different to its murderous presence in southwest Africa. The same held true for the New Zealand colonial regime. New Zealand rule over the Maori within New Zealand was different than New Zealand rule in Samoa, or for that matter the Cook Islands and Niue. Different interests—political and economic—were involved, and Maori, as poorly treated as they were, had political rights in the 19th century that Samoans would not achieve until much later (Hiery 1997a:25).