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New Zealand, Samoa remember occupation of First World War

WELLINGTON, Aug. 29 (Xinhua) -- Officials from New Zealand and Samoa attended a ceremony in Auckland Friday to mark the 100th anniversary of New Zealand's occupation of Samoa -- one of the first military conquests of German territory in World War One.

New Zealand Pacific Island Affairs Minister Peseta Lotu-Iiga said in a published speech that the occupation started a relationship that had developed through the decades and was based on friendship and shared values with a common vision of the future.

"With nearly 145,000 Samoans now in New Zealand and Samoan being the third most spoken language after English and Maori, the impact of Samoans in New Zealand has left an indelible mark on the identity and culture of New Zealand and will continue to do so," Lotu-Iiga said.

"Our government looks forward to continuing to embrace and deepen our already strong relationship with Samoa for the benefit of our people, families and communities."

When war broke out in Europe in August 1914, Britain asked New Zealand to seize the German colony of Samoa as a "great and urgent Imperial service," in order to neutralize a large radio mast capable of broadcasting to ships across the Pacific and to Berlin.

The Samoan Advance Party of about 1,400 infantry and support personnel landed at Apia on Aug. 29, and the German troops stationed on Samoa reportedly surrendered without a fight.

The ceremony at the Auckland Cenotaph was also attended by New Zealand Governor-General Jerry Mateparae and Samoan High Commissioner Leasi Papali'i Tommy Scanlan, along with representatives of Britain and Germany.

Short historical readings were made to provide perspectives from the 1914 Samoan Advance Party and the Samoan experience of the First World War.

After the occupation, Samoa became a New Zealand territory until it was granted independence in 1962, when the two countries signed a Treaty of Friendship, which has defined the bilateral relationship since.

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