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Palagi Tafaovale - A wanderer in the Pacific by Bob Rankin

A Whispered Name by William Brodrick

Star of the Sea by O'Connor Joseph

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Member: vaitele

CollectionsYour library (3), Currently reading (3), All collections (3)

Reviews3 reviews

TagsOccupation of Japan (1), military justice (1), Apia (1), WW! history (1), Samoa (1), political independence (1), honour (1), execution (1), desertion (1), redemption (1) — see all tags

About meAuthor "Palagi Tafaovale - A wanderer in the Pacific"
‘Palagi Tafaovale’ A wanderer in the Pacific

Written by Staff Reporter
Sunday, 12 April 2009 13:40
Bob Rankin (inset) his book
Ian McGibbon, of New Zealand International Review, reviews Bob Rankin’s Palagi Tafaovale book:

Most New Zealanders perceive Samoa to be a tropical paradise, ‘a fabled place – a land of swaying palms, blue lagoons, rugged green mountains, sunshine, warmth and a friendly smiling people, a haven of peace and beauty’.

But as expatriate New Zealander, longtime resident of Samoa and Samoan citizen Bob Rankin warns, all is not well in paradise.
Rankin outlines some of the challenges to Samoa’s seemingly untroubled existence.

The islands, he suggests, ‘can no longer claim to be a haven of peace’.
In Apia, in particular ‘the crime overcrowding and buried dreams’ combine to ensure that the allure of western ideals is fading fast.’

Samoa remains one of the world’s least developed nations, with high unemployment and no relief measures for those without jobs, a high cost of living, and a shaky economy.

An increasingly corrupt government stands in the way of addressing these problems.
These troubling observations are included as and addendum to this delightful autobiography.
Rankin arrived in Samoa in the 1950s as New Zealand’s sometimes troubled stewardship of the islands, which had begun in 1914, was winding down.

He was one of several scores of New Zealand school teachers recruited to serve in the trust territory.
Samoa soon captivated him – as did local girl Sophie Forsgren, who he married.
He dabbled in photography, later became a newspaper editor, and established several businesses.
Apart from a period in Australia, he has spent the rest of his life in Samoa.

His path was not all rosy. Rankin suffered setbacks – he ruffled feathers among the Samoan elite, was eventually removed from his editorship of the Samoa Bulletin, failed in his attempt to establish another newspaper, Samoana, and faced difficulties with various businesses.
But he was always optimistic, and resilient and determined – as well as being broad-minded, curious and non-judgmental.

While the main focus of Palagi Tafaovale is Samoa, Rankin also provides an interesting account of his military service.
Joining the navy, he was en route to the United Kingdom when the war in Europe ended and began his return journey shortly after the atomic bombs brought the war with Japan to an abrupt end.
Back in civvy street, he found a way out of an unsatisfying situation by volunteering to serve with J-Force, New Zealand’s contribution
to the occupation of Japan.

Rankin went to Japan in 1947 as an interrogator, after completing a language course in Australia.
He relates his experiences in the defeated country, more fulfilling than those of most of his fellow countrymen because he was able to converse with ordinary Japanese in their own language.

His interactions – including several romances – are full of interest.
This book will appeal to anyone interested in New Zealand’s connection with Samoa.
It is an easy read, and contains much of interest about New Zealand’s involvement in both early post-war Japan and late colonial Samoa and about post-independent life in Samoa.

About my libraryFavourite authors - Gerald Seymour, Robert Goddard, Joseph O'Connor, Ted Dexter, Ian Rankin, Nick Rankin, Louis de Bernières, Ken Follet, Brian Fremantle, George MacDonald Fraser,Adan Hall



Real nameRobert Rankin

LocationApia Samoa

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Member sinceApr 17, 2009

Currently readingStar of the Sea by O'Connor Joseph
Palagi Tafaovale - A wanderer in the Pacific by Bob Rankin
A Whispered Name by William Brodrick

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