There was some interesting but sad news coming out of Samoa last month where the Samoa’s government has started the demolition of a more than 100 year old courthouse building seen by many as a historical relic worth saving.
Located in the Samoan capital on Upolu, the Apia Courthouse was built in 1902 by the German colonial power that governed the islands of Upolu and Savai’i from 1900 to 1914.
The building is intimately associated with the country’s modern history: It was here that the German flag was lowered and the British flag was raised on August 30, 1914, a day after troops from New Zealand seized Samoa in the month that followed the outbreak of World War I.
For 25 years the building housed the Supreme Court and the Ministry of Justice as well as the offices of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. But the building is most remembered by Samoans as the site of the killing of the Mau leader, Tupua Tamasese Lealofi, shot by New Zealand troops in 1929.
Today, the two-story timber frame building is one of the last surviving colonial structures in the South Pacific.
The building became dilapidated over the years, although there had been many efforts to try and rebuild it to its former glory but costs proved to be an issue. Private organizations were formed to try and save the building, some even approaching the German government for assistance, but to no avail.
When news of the demolition work came out many took to social media to voice their opposition to the move.The site had been taken over by the government’s international finance authority, SIFA, who planned to build a multi-story office building and hotel. But a compromise may have been reached with an offer by the company who won the contract to demolish the building.
The Samoa Observer newspaper reported that Schwartz Construction Limited Managing Director, Alai’asa Schwartz Hunt, had promised to restore the building on a new site. He said he had plans to relocate the building but was currently looking for land in town to do it. “My dream is to rebuild a replica of the original building. I want to return it to its former glory.”