Church bells and police sirens rang out across Samoa at midnight to herald the start of 12 months of nationwide celebrations for the 60th year of independence from New Zealand.
Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mata’afa, who is the chairwoman of the Independence Committee, raised the flag of freedom at a ceremony this morning, along with a 21-gun salute by police.
Fiame announced earlier that only local dignitaries were invited to this morning’s event.
Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Agafili Shem Leo, told media that foreign dignitaries and overseas guests were expected at the main celebrations in September, after international borders open in August.
At the same time, the annual Teuila Festival will be revived after being on hold for the last three years because of the measles outbreak and then the coronavirus pandemic.
The organising committee had asked all villages and districts to plan and hold their celebrations during the 12 months of celebrations.