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Source: University of Otago

PhD Candidate Wanda Ieremia-Allan at the Tagaloa Scholarship Awards (Ministry of Education).
University of Otago PhD candidate Wanda Ieremia-Allan would spend Sunday afternoons delivering O Le Sulu Samoa newspaper as a young girl.
She is now bound for the University of Cambridge to research the historical legacy of the publication.
Ms Ieremia-Allan recently received the Pacific Islander Visiting Fellowship offered by the prestigious institution.
She will spend six weeks at Corpus Christi College conducting archival research for her doctorate on O Le Sulu Samoa and its role in capturing the perspectives of the Pacific over time.
Her father, Reverend Elder Lale Ieremia, was one of the first Pacific tauira to attend the respected university in 1970.
O le sulu Samoa newspaper.
She wants to “profile and shine a light” on O Le Sulu Samoa, a missionary newspaper that has been active for 184 years.
It was the first newspaper to be published in gagana Samoa (Samoan language) and tells a unique story of the Pacific over the decades.
“It’s the writing of the early people of the missionary church. These were the first group of Pacific printers, book binders, grassroot journalists, translators, ethnographers, teachers, nurses, artists, orators, travel writers and diarists.”
She will search Cambridge’s archives for issues of the paper and for other literature written by its Pacific contributors.
O Le Sulu Samoa featured writers from all corners of the Pacific and was mobilised by Indigenous Pacific missionaries.
“Wherever these missionaries and church workers travelled, they took the paper with them. They then sent back reports, letters, snippets of their journals and orthographies to Samoa for publication,” Ms Ieremia-Allan says.
“They were Indigenous writers from Tokelau, Kiribati, Tuvalu, Niue, Papua New Guinea and the Torres Strait Islands that were all writing in Samoan.
“So you have this incredible history that’s been written in the Samoan language that’s only accessible to people who read Samoan, yet it is the history of all the Pacific, of everyone.”
She has already uncovered articles that document significant historical events, including the atomic bombing in Bikini Atoll and phosphate mining in Banaba (Ocean Island) and Nauru.
“It has mentions of the Indigenous Samoan lunar calendar, traditional metric systems, natural weather events, genealogy, poetry, oratory, political exile, and incredibly moving stories of Pacific resilience, hospitality, and generosity,” Ms Ieremia-Allan says.
The PhD candidate has grown a large and highly engaged community on her Facebook page dedicated to sharing her digital collection of newspapers. She also received a Tagaloa scholarship for this doctoral research this year.
“People have been wanting to see the writing of their ancestors.”
For more information, please contact:
Keilah FoxCommunications Adviser (Pacific)Communications Advisory ServiceUniversity of OtagoMob +64 21 279 1469Email