Stories from a German Samoa

From the Hufnagel-Betham Family Collection

German Samoa (1900-1914) was also Chinese Samoa.

Apparently, German landowners couldn’t find many local Samoans willing to work for them, so they immigrated almost 4000 Chinese laborers on temporary (usually 3-year) contracts.

This time in our history – plus the upcoming Spanish influenza outbreak (1918) that killed thousands – forever changed the genetic make up of Samoa.

These stories are beautifully preserved in the Museum of Samoa’s online exhibition, To Walk Under Palm Trees – photographs collected from the families of German settlers in Samoa.

The latest addition to this growing exhibition is a chapter about the Garben family, who ran the Franz plantation in Falelauniu, Apia.

Go check it out… but be prepared to get a little lost in those images for a while. It’s a mesmerizing journey into the history of all Samoans.

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Known offline as Lillian (Lils, Lei'a) Arp, Hamo Geek Girl is just learning what it means to be Samoan. When she's not here, she's over at Manaui: Savour Oceania mostly talking about her other favourite topic: Food!

One thought on “Stories from a German Samoa

  1. Thank you for sharing these information. I was born in Apia, Western Samoa, and then immigrated with my family to NZ in 1966. I moved to Alaska in 1983 and have lived here since. My children are afakasi and ask a lot of questions, which I don’t have answers for -- so, thank you. And Merry Christmas! From Eseta Sherman and the Sherman Tribe in King Salmon/Naknek, Alaska

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