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Object: Malifa handbook

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Title Malifa handbook
Materials paper
Classification manuals
Credit line Gift of Dr Alex M Rutherford, 1954
Registration number FE010588

The front cover of this handbook indicates that it was presented to Mr and Mrs D A J Rutherford in 1936. The Rutherfords had arrived in Sämoa in 1919 when Mr Rutherford or Latafoti, as he was also known, was appointed superintendent of schools. Previously he had been headmaster of Highcliff School near Dunedin, before taking up his position as headmaster of Leififi School, the first government school in Sämoa established for local European children and children of expatriates.

Malifa was the second government school established during the German period in Sämoa, and was started by church minister Faletoese in 1908. It was intended for Samoan children. In 1909, a boarding school for the sons of matai (chiefs) was added to the Malifa compound. It was the first school to organise a kilikiti (cricket) team in 1921. During Latafoti’s time, a number of Grade 2 schools were set up. However student numbers in classes continued to rise due to increasing interest in education.

Materials and construction

The handbook has hand-drawn images on the front cover and seven pages of handwritten text inside.It describes a series of small models of household utensils and furniture indexed from A to V that was presented to the Rutherfords. Some of the items included; 'au (tattooing instrument), aufana (bow and arrow), falalili'i (mat), pate (cricket bat) and to'i (stone adze).



This handbook was presented to Mr and Mrs D A J Rutherford upon their leaving Sämoa in 1936. Written by a student, this object is a good example of how New Zealand policies in the early 1900s influenced Sämoa's educational system.



Anonymous. “Samoan Public Service” in Evening Post, Volume XCIX, Issue 107, 6 May 1920, p.6.


Anonymous. “Personal matters”, in Evening Post, Volume XVII, Issue 31, 5 February 1919, p.8.


Cleverly, J. “Schooling in Samoa”, Campbell, C. and Sherrington, G. (eds.) Going to school in Oceania. (Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 2007)


Fairburn-Dunlop, P. Tamaitai Samoa: their stories. (Suva: Institute of Pacific Studies, 1996)


Mähina-Tuai, K. “A land of milk and honey? Education and employment migration schemes in the post war era,” Mallon, S.,Mahina-Tuai, K.and Salesa, D. (eds.) Tangata o le Moana: New Zealand and the people of the Pacific.(Wellington: Te Papa Press, 2012)


Williams, P. O le Faavaeina o Avele. (Wellington: School Publications Branch of the Department of Education of External Affairs, 1963)

Related information

Disclaimer: This information was created from historic documentation, and may not necessarily reflect the best available knowledge about the item. Some collection images are created for identification purposes only and may not be of reproduction quality. Some images are not available due to copyright restrictions. If you have information or questions about objects in the collection, contact us using our enquiry form. You can also find out more about Collections Online.