Samoa Beat


A collection of Samoa’s oldest photographs and videos is well a way to remembering Samoa’s long journey throughout the years.

The Centre for Samoan Studies of the National University of Samoa have launched a collection of multimedia materials, including photographs, videos, and artefacts from Samoa’s history here at the National University of Samoa.

The collection includes photos taken almost 140 years from the past. The feat is something Director of C.S.S for N.U.S says is worth a marvel at because of the display of Samoa’s journey.

“To catalogue these materials is very important to Samoan history, it tells our people that we have a piece of our past right here, and for the Centre for Samoan Studies to hold on to that is a very good thing,” said Associate Prof. Safua Akeli Ama’ama.

Majority of the artwork and photography showcased at C.S.S were gifted to N.U.S by the National Library of New Zealand.

“The visual history of Samoa is very important, as we move forward especially for the next generation,” she said.

The research carried out at the Centre for Samoan Studies often involve students of the University, this is why Director Safua says it’s important to not only dig for the past, but to to make use of the technology they have to make their findings.

“We always have to make use of the best technology we have when we look into our history. And we have to acknowledge that people learn in different ways and for some its best when we teach them through visual,” she added.

“And our people as well, they enjoy learning a lot with visual materials and that’s a part of the learning process, and we should definitely offer that in the classrooms,” she added.

The Centre for Samoa Studies are also behind a pending film making project that seeks to emphasize on these same technologies for a change.

The Collections were established by CSS staff and supplemented by donations from various other partners of C.S.S.


The C.S.S Research Collections are comprised of the following provided by the C.S.S. team:

• UTU: Sāmoan Archaeology and Cultural Heritage Database - UTU is hosted on a GIS platform created with a grant from the U.S. Department of State’s Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation and is the repository for all of C.S.S’ archaeological and heritage research. UTU includes a growing inventory of national archaeological and built heritage sites, audio and video files of oral histories related to significant sites and research areas, bilingual transcripts of oral histories, recent and archival photographs and video documenting heritage sites across Upolu and Savai’i, aerial photographs and topographical maps of Sāmoa taken since 1954. UTU also contains a copy of the national LiDAR data, kindly provided by the Mapping Division of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.

• Digital Publications Index – CSS has collated, digitized and organized over 5000 academic articles, theses, dissertations and books published on a variety of topics, but most significantly on Sāmoa and the Pacific. The Index is completely researchable through an open source desktop search app called DocFetcher.

• Friends of CSS Multi-Media Library – CSS has acquired a collection of over 1200 books and almost 200 films and videos. The majority of the Library’s

2 content is focused on ethnography of the Pacific, and all the books and films (DVD and digital files) were donations from the personal collections of academic colleagues, such as Prof. Ann Chowning (Victoria University, Wellington), Prof. Richard Scaglion (Univ. of Pittsburg), Prof. Deborah B. Gewertz (Amherst College), Prof. Richard Feinberg (UC San Diego), archaeologist Greg Jackmond, visual anthropologists Dionne Fonoti and Fepulea’i Micah Van der Ryn and CSS adjunct professors Meleiseā Malama and Penelope Schoeffel Meleiseā. The Library is organized into a multi-media cataloguing system called Data Crow.

• Rare and Out-of-Print Samoan Text – From the Library, C.S.S researchers identified rare and out-of-print text on Sāmoa to digitize and archive. C.S.S now has digital, and researchable, copies of seminal academic works on Samoa, from the early 20th century ethnographies of Dr. August Kramer to all eight volumes of the Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture’s Sāmoa Ne’i Galo, a village-by-village collection of proverbial expressions and their associated oral histories.

• Niu ‘Afa Gallery –The CSS Main Office also doubles as an exhibition space and adorning the walls is a special selection of archival images and artistic renderings of Sāmoa. In 2017, the National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa, with assistance from the New Zealand High Commission in Apia, donated Va’aomanū, an exhibition celebrating the history and culture of Samoa, to CSS, and a selection of these archival prints is currently on display. CSS has also received donations of art works from Sāmoan artists, such as visual artist Yuki Kihara and photographer Evotia Tamua, who were both based at CSS during their terms as Creative New Zealand Sāmoa Artists in Residence. Selections of Kihara and Tamua’s pieces can also be viewed in the Niu ‘Afa Building. CSS will also be acknowledging a recent donation of archival packaging materials from the Auckland War Memorial Museum.

Monday evening’s launch will feature a short introductory program, and then attendees will be able to search the Collections and tour the Niu ‘Afa Gallery.