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Samoa skips a day to align with Australia

3 January 2012 No Comment

Samoans gathered around a clock tower in the capital Apia at midnight on Thursday to mark the historic moment when the Pacific Island country skipped Friday and moved straight to Saturday.

The midnight hour struck to the wail of sirens and burst of fireworks, agencies reported. The shift west of the international date line, along with the tiny nation of Tokelau, received coverage around the world.

“Ordinary Samoan people come and go between Samoa, Australia and New Zealand like they take a bus and the date line was a bit of a pain for them,” Michael Field, the author of a number of books about Samoa told AAP.
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The change was symptomatic of the much closer relationship between Samoa, Australia and New Zealand, he said.

“Whereas once flying out of Samoa for New Zealand was something of an epic journey and the whole family came to the airport to say goodbye, these days you’re lucky if someone from the family will drop you at the airport,” Mr Field said.

Samoa and American Samoa are now divided by the date line but Mr Field says American Samoa has for the past 100 years looked to Washington and “Apia has always looked this way”.

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi told the Samoan Observer the time zone change would benefit Samoa.

He said the move would make it easier for Samoa to do business with trading partners, and would help the tourism industry grow.

“We’ve got to remember that over 90 per cent of our people emigrate to New Zealand and Australia. That’s why it’s absolutely vital to make this change,” he says.

It was important for business to operate on the same day as trading partners.

“At the moment, when they contact us on their Monday, everything in Samoa is closed because we are at church,” he said.

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