Prime Minister John Key’s visit with a Parliamentary delegation to Samoa 31 July to 1 August marks the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Friendship between New Zealand and Samoa.
On 1 August, Mr Key will launch Friendship Week, which begins with a food and beverage expo at the Tanoa Tusitala Hotel. This will be attended by Samoan celebrity chef Michael Meredith, who will demonstrate the culinary skills that made his Auckland restaurant celebrated as the best restaurant in New Zealand for 2011.
The week continues with Apia’s top restaurants vying for the Food and Wine Challenge awards, with prizes donated by sponsors including the Government of Samoa. Celebrated chef Robert Oliver, in town to promote Samoan cuisine, will hand out the prizes.
Many cultural events celebrate Friendship Week, starting with the exhibition Fa’ave o Samoa from Samoan/New Zealand artist Fatu Feu’u, which will be opened by Prime Minister Key at the new Poutasi Memorial Hall before it moves to the Vanya Taule’alo Gallery at Vaitele.
Five other artists are coming for Friendship Week to work with Samoan students of the arts and fuel their own creativity by exploring the Samoan experience in Return to Hawaiiki. They are an eclectic group, but all have strong connexions with Samoa either through heritage or their work. (link to artists’ bio and media release).
Other artists are visiting. They include Isabelle Staron-Tutugoro and Michel Tuffery, who has designed stunning sets of New Zealand stamps and coins to celebrate the Treaty of Friendship. They will be joined by Joy Vaele and Olivia Taouma Levy, who have flown from New Zealand to perform Let Me Hear You Whisper, compiled from writings by Samoan playwrights and directed by Fiona Collins from the National University of Samoa and a well-known actress in her own right in New Zealand.
There will also be an exhibition to mark the 50th anniversary of Volunteers Service Abroad and another, prepared by Unitec in Auckland, which looks at the visual history of the old Courthouse and displays options for its conservation.
In the fortnight leading up to Friendship, a New Zealand/Samoa film festival has screened on Apia’s TV3. And the crowds turned out in Apia and on Savai’I to cheer Sir Graham Henry and All Black Victor Vito as they displayed the Webb Ellis Trophy, mighty emblem of the Rugby World Cup victory.