December 30, 2011 - the day no one in Samoa will ever see

By Vaimoana Tapaleao

Samoans will go to sleep on Thursday and wake up on Saturday as their government changes their place in the sun. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Samoans will go to sleep on Thursday and wake up on Saturday as their government changes their place in the sun. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Friday, December 30, 2011, is a day no one in Samoa will ever see. Tomorrow, the island nation will skip a day to align its dates with New Zealand.

Samoans will go to sleep tonight on their Thursday, December 29, and wake up on Saturday, December 31 - skipping Friday.

Since 1892, Samoa has been east of the International Dateline, after switching over from the west to coincide with trading partners in the United States and Europe.

But this year, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi said times had changed, and the country would be switching back again.

"Our trading partners have dramatically changed, and today we do a lot more business with New Zealand and Australia, China and Pacific Rim countries such as Singapore," he said in May.

"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 already conducting business in Sydney and Brisbane."

Work has started on changing maps, charts and atlases to show Samoa on the western side of the International Dateline.

A new postage stamp has been created to mark the switch.

The change has drawn positive and negative reactions.

One objector is the Seventh-day Adventist Church, which observes the Sabbath on Saturday.

Church leaders in Samoa have declared they will continue to observe their holy day on what would have been Saturday - therefore observing the Sabbath on Sundays from now on.

But in the village of Samatau, church members say they will not be following the rule and will worshipping on the new Saturday.

The village of Falealupo - on the eastern tip of the big island of Savaii - has long been known as the last place on Earth to see the sun set each day.

This has made it a tourist attraction for decades, particularly during New Year celebrations.

Falealupo Beach Fales accommodation - which has a picture of a sunset and the line "where the sun sets" in its logo - will have to make some changes.

But owner Soifua Levi told the Herald yesterday that he accepted the time change.

"I believe that the Government is only trying to better our country ... I think we just have to go along with what they think is best.

- NZ Herald

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