'ie toga (fine mat),
1900-1922, Maker unknown, Samoa. Gift of Mrs H F Dykes, 1938. Te Papa
'My blood has been spilt for Sāmoa. Do not dream of avenging it … peace must be maintained at any price'
.Above are the words of Tupua Tamasese Lealofi III, who gave this precious mat to a New Zealand government official in 1922. That official was C J Westland, Assistant Director of Sāmoa’s Mulinu‘u Observatory.
Why the exchange took place is unclear. Tamasese was the leader of the nationalist Mau movement, which, with European support, was seeking independence from New Zealand. Independence was eventually won in 1962 – but not before Tamasese and 11 chiefs were shot dead by New Zealand police during a peaceful march in 1929.