Navigating New Zealand colonialism: “more interested in playing cricket than in Samoan politics”
This chapter examines Samoans’ use of the game under New Zealand colonial rule. Under military occupation, Samoans revived kirikiti in the districts as part of broader efforts to reclaim activities restricted under German rule. In Apia, Samoans regularly played ‘English’ cricket to establish relationships with officials, while kirikiti served to entertain soldiers and ‘perform’ loyalty. Under civilian rule, Samoans gradually developed different strategies to navigate New Zealand colonialism—including on the cricket pitch. While controlling and policing kirikiti remained a fruitful means of ‘performing’ accommodation, adherents of the Mau protest movement used the game as a form of anti-colonial protest. These divergent responses demonstrate the game’s value to Samoans in the face of new and increasingly invasive—if not necessarily pervasive—forms of colonial power.