Bad timing for some Samoans

NEIL REID
Last updated 05:00 01/01/2012
samoa
Fairfax NZ
BEST INTERESTS: Samoa was losing out on two working days a week with NZ and Australia before the change.

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Samoa's ''great date robbery" scuttled the birthday celebrations of 775 residents and poured cold water on 43 wedding anniversaries in the island nation.

December 30 was rubbed off the Samoan calendar after Prime Minister Tuila'epa Sailele Malielegaoi decided to move the dateline in a bid to aid his nation's business community.

Residents went to bed on December 29 and woke up on December 31 – aligned with New Zealand time.

The move was ushered in with prayers, fireworks and songs at a public celebration in Apia in the hours before midnight on December 29.

"Tonight is a momentous and noteworthy occasion that will be documented and recorded in the history of Samoa," Tuila'epa said. "It alters the typical number of days and weeks observed worldwide in Samoa. May God be gracious on Samoa."

Others took to less formal celebrations. At Apia's `Y Not', guests were invited to warp into the future Star Trek-style while sipping sci-fi themed cocktails.

But the time travel move has not gone down well with everyone. Opposition MP Aveau Niko Palamo felt for those born on December 30, or who had weddings and other anniversaries on that date.

It's understood a number of the 775 Samoans set to celebrate their birthdays on December 30, or those who were to mark their wedding anniversaries, had expressed their disappointment to the government.

But Tuila'epa said the move was in the nation's best interest, telling the Samoan parliament: "In doing business with New Zealand and Australia, we're losing out on two working days a week.

"While it's Friday here, it's Saturday in New Zealand, and when we're at church on Sunday, they're conducting business in Sydney and Brisbane."

The date change comes two years after an equally contentious decision to overhaul the country's road code, including changing from driving on the right of the road to the left.

And Tuila'epa wants further reforms in 2012, including changing the national flag.

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- Sunday Star Times

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