Samoan PM proposes shift in dateline

By Cherelle Jackson

Tuilapa will shift Samoan dates and change the face of local calendars. Photo / Cherelle Jackson
Tuilapa will shift Samoan dates and change the face of local calendars. Photo / Cherelle Jackson

The man who has changed the driving side of the road and time is now proposing Samoa changes its dates to suit New Zealand and Australia in
the near future.

Tuilaepa Sailele Lupesoliai Malielegaoi, Prime Minister of the small island nation of Samoa, was coy in his response to the Samoa Observer last week when asked for the first time about his plans to shift Samoa's time zone.

Samoa is currently a day behind New Zealand and Australia.

"There appear to be overwhelming reasons for a time zone change. I will elaborate further on this issue in the near future," Tuilaepa said.

Yesterday the Government issued a statement confirming the Samoan Cabinet has approved the drafting of legislation to "enable a change to the Samoa Time Zone".

According to a report filed in Cabinet, the proposed change is due to a noted increase in commercial and economic dealings between Samoa, New Zealand and Australia which "are nearby developed countries".

The Samoan Cabinet says it is concerned that the present time zone differences between Samoa and New Zealand leaves the islands with only four shared working days in a week.

"Difficulties in communications and business dealings with these countries have resulted," Cabinet stated.

The Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Labour (MCIL) is expected to implement the changes.

Meanwhile, some tourism operators are protesting the change.

Andrew Tiatia, a local tour guide, says a unique selling point for Samoa will be lost with the change in date.

"The fact that Samoa is the last place on earth to see the sun of every day, is a great marketing point, and one which I take great pride in telling our visitors, once that's gone, we're just like the rest of the world."

He said: "Samoa's southern most point at Falealupo on Savaii, this is where tourists go to see the last global sunset of every day. After the date change, it will be just another sunset, no longer that special."

Savaii residents also visit the point to sit and look out to the horizon knowing that they are looking into the next day.

Tiatia says he hopes the change will not happen.

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