Pacific | Celebration

An asset or a cultural asset? The Samoan community responds to the Maota Samoa (Samoa House) on K’Rd.

The Karangahape Rd building is now leased to all non-Pacific organisations due to its decline in use from the Pacific.

The Maota Samoa (Samoa House) based on Auckland’s Karangahape Road (K’rd) has seen a major decline in its use by Pacific people.

This is due to a Fale o Samoa (Samoa House) building on Bader Drive, Māngere, built in 2016 alongside the Samoan consulate to be closer to the large demographic of Samoans who live in the area.

The K’Rd building is now leased to all non-Pacific organisations, making it harder for event bookings for the Pacific.

Bonni Tamati, who works in the Maota Samoa Library on the third level of the building, says this place is now seen as an asset rather than a cultural asset.

“We’ve been working with the Samoan government and given our assessment and how the Pacific could benefit the Samoan and Pacific people in Aotearoa and they’ve been receptive.

We’re hoping to create a little bit more awareness for people who want to practice their cultural heritage and come together as communities in a space that reflects them. Having visibility in central Auckland is important,” says Tamati.

The Maota Samoa was the first traditional Samoan house built outside of Samoa and it recently celebrated its 45th anniversary on Saturday.

In 1978 off the back of racial tension and unrest of the Dawnraids, the iconic building was opened in Central Auckland.

At the 1978 opening, the ribbon was cut by former New Zealand Prime Minister Robert Muldoon, leader of the National Party at the time and responsible for carrying out the forced deportation of Pacific overstayers.

Olivia Taouma, part of the ‘Friends of Samoa’ committee for Maota Samoa says it was a bittersweet moment to see him open the doors back then.

“To him and the people that he was representing at a time of trauma, we’re here to say we’re part of this country, this country is in the South Pacific, it’s part of the Pacific.

It is part of our whakapapa with Māori and tangata whenua. And this (building) place symbolises that.”

The 45th celebration over the weekend was an attempt to let the Pacific know the building has not been shut down.

Reminiscence of it once being a thriving place for Pacific people to practice their craft, such as Michael Meredith owner of ‘Metita’ in Skycity Auckland, and Siliga Sani Muliaumaseali’i a world-renowned opera singer.

Performing artist Feeona Clifton says despite the population in Māngere there are still opportunities for this place to be used for the education sector of the Pacific.

“We’re still here, we just need a central place, to gather and to meet, don’t believe the hype because they’re all out south.

Nothing against South Auckland but there are a lot of people that connect to here and have many memories.”

Celebrating 45 years of Maota Samoa:) A wonderful fiafia day.

Posted by Carmel Sepuloni on Friday, December 15, 2023

The building’s birthday saw over 200 people attend to celebrate all things Pacific through lauga (speeches), Siva (dance), musika (Music), and makeki (Markets).

It saw well-known Pacific community members attend the event such as Reverend Mua Strickson-Pua, Ōtahuhu electorate Jenny Salesa, and Labour Party Anahila Kanongata’a-Suisuiki.

Present was also former Deputy Prime Minister Carmel Sepuloni who called the event “A wonderful fiafia (happy) day.”

Te Ao News has reached out to the owners of Maota Samoa but has yet to receive a response.