A December day disappears in Samoa and Tokelau

22:55, Dec 20 2011
The first day cover to mark Samoa's change on the international dateline.
LEAP DAY: The first day cover to mark Samoa's change on the international dateline.

Do not schedule an appointment in Samoa or Tokelau on the last Friday of this month – they've cancelled it, there will not be one.

There will be no presents for anybody with a birthday on December 30.

And to mark it, a New Zealand designer has produced a series of postage stamps – "Leap into the Future", issued this week by Samoa Post.

The lost day comes because Samoa is moving the International Dateline so that they are on the same day as Australia and New Zealand. American Samoa will keep December 30, and be stuck in yesterday.

Tokelau – three atolls and home to 1200 New Zealanders north of Samoa – has also jumped across the Dateline because its administrative headquarters is in Apia.

An Air New Zealand spokesman said the loss of a day will not affect their schedules, but he says Samoa's accommodation providers have worked out a way to account for the lost day on hotel bills. Guests are not expected to pay for a day that did not exist.

Law change means employers – which include the biggest employer, the public service – have to pay workers for the day, as if it exists.

Samoa's Prime Minister Tuila'epa Sailele moved the dateline, saying it would make it easier for them to do business with the region.

"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 Sunday, they're already conducting business in Sydney and Brisbane."

Samoa Post's Dateline stamps were launched by Minister of Communications Information and Technology Tuisugaletaua Sofara Aveau who said the change comes into effect on December 29 "so we will wake up to December 31 and will miss out on the 30th day of this month".

The stamps were designed by Denise Durkin of Wellington. They are printed by the Southern Colour Print, Dunedin, New Zealand.

Two years ago Tuila'epa insisted on making his country switch from driving on the right hand side of the road to the left – so they could get cheaper cars from Australia and New Zealand.

He is now working on his next scheme – dumping Samoa's colonial era flag that was a gift from New Zealand.

The plain blue and red flag was drawn up by a committee headed by the last administrator, Guy Powles.

Tuila'epa is not saying what will be on the new flag, but smart money is on its national flower, teuila, and a ‘ava bowl. American Samoa has an eagle.

It is not Samoa's first jump across the Dateline; in 1892 they moved from today, to yesterday.

Like New Zealand, Samoa was never consulted on where the Dateline went in the first place.

This month's switch is sad news for Samoa's Falealupo, the last village on earth to see the end of a day.

The world's day will each day end over white sand Palagi Beach (palagi is Samoan for pakeha) at the western end of Tutuila in American Samoa.


Two of the stamps printed to mark Samoa's change on the international dateline.
DATE CHANGE: Two of the stamps printed to mark Samoa's change on the international dateline.