Measles has killed 72 people in Samoa since October, in a deadly catastrophe that has highlighted the country's low vaccination rates - just 16 percent had both doses of the measles vaccine last year - and the influence of a growing anti-vaccination movement there.

But critics have also blamed New Zealand for the epidemic.

Samoa's Prime Minister, Tuila'epa Sa'ilele Malielegaoi, and senior health officials have maintained measles travelled to Samoa from New Zealand.

Unicef Pacific posted pictures to their facebook account of new measels vaccine delivery and vaccinations in Apia, Samoa, on 02 December 2019. Photo / Supplied
Unicef Pacific posted pictures to their facebook account of new measels vaccine delivery and vaccinations in Apia, Samoa, on 02 December 2019. Photo / Supplied

In at least one instance, Tui'laepa has used this to argue Samoa could not have done more to prepare itself for the disease's arrival.

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Miss Samoa and newly-crowned Miss Pacific Islands Fonoifafo Mcfarland-Seumanu administers the measles vaccine in Samoa as the Samona Government tackles the measles epidemic. Photo / Facebook
Miss Samoa and newly-crowned Miss Pacific Islands Fonoifafo Mcfarland-Seumanu administers the measles vaccine in Samoa as the Samona Government tackles the measles epidemic. Photo / Facebook

The Samoan government reported the first case arrived from New Zealand in late August, according to an MFAT spokesperson.

"International travel means that measles can spread quickly from country to country. It is highly likely that New Zealand is the main source for the outbreak in Samoa," the spokesperson said.

All Blacks Sevens come together with Samoa for a moment to honour Samoa's measles victims. Video / SKY Sport

The comments are the first public admission of responsibility for the epidemic, after New Zealand government ministers either evaded questions on where the disease came from or outright denied New Zealand was the source.

When Checkpoint's Lisa Owen asked Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters, earlier this month whether New Zealand gave Samoa measles, he said: "That is speculation, the answer is most probably not."