This site is a mirror of the original site, made in 2022 by Heraldry of the World. The original site is unaltered. This mirror functions as an archive to keep the material available on-line.
All rights remain with the late Hubert de Vries, the original site owner.


Samoa i Sisifo




The Kingdom

Western Samoa

Eastern or American Samoa


Armed Forces, Police




Polynesians, possibly from Tonga, first settled in the Samoan islands about 1000 B.C.. The archipelago was discovered in 1722 by Jacob Roggeveen. In 1830 the first missionaries arrived and on their initiative the Kingdom of Samoa was founded .


The Kingdom


The first flag of the kingdom was red with a white crescent and star. In 1873 the flag was changed into red with a white cross, the star in the left hand upper corner. This flag is also in the royal arms:



Arms: Parted per pale, the dexter Argent, the national flag of Samoa, being Gules, a cross and in dexter chief a five-pointed star Argent, flying to the sinister from a mast proper; the sinister Azure, on a ground a palm-tree proper.

Crown: A crown of nine points, surmounted by a five-pointed faceted star, Argent, the circlet and the points set with pearls.

Motto: le fa amoemoe lelei, in silver lettering on a red ribbon placed between the shield and the crown. [1]


Western Samoa


Conflicting interests of the U.S., Britain, and Germany resulted in the treaty of 22 December 1899 that recognized the paramount interests of the U.S. in those islands west of 171° W (American Samoa) and Germany's interests in the other islands (Western Samoa).


In 1913 a coat of arms was designed by the German Ministry of Internal Affairs for the German, western  part. It was:

Arms of Samoa, 1914 [2]


Arms: Gules, three palmtrees Argent on a base barry wavy of four Azure and Argent, and a chief Argent, an eagle sable, billed and clawed Gules, on his breast quarterly Argent and Sable.

Crown: The Imperial Crown of Germany.


* The coat of arms, together with the coats of arms of the other lost colonies of Germany, was published about 1933 in a German Magazine called Afrika Nachrichten. In this magazine it was discovered by C. Pama and mentioned in his “Lions and Virgins” about South African Heraldry. He writes:


….just before the First World War, in 1912 and 1913, the then state-secretary of the Imperial Colonial Office (Reichskolonialamt), Dr. Solf, had made a journey during which he visited all the German colonies and some of the British possessions as well. He was struck by the fact that these British colonies did have their own colonial badges, and that by placing them on the Union Jack local colonial flags could be designed which were nevertheless all of one British pattern. This impressed him greatly and on his return to Germany he sent a memorandum to the Emperor Wilhelm II in which he stressed the desirability of adopting such symbols as well in German colonies, and went so far as to suggest that designs should be made immediately.

The Emperor agreed with Solf and the German Bureau of Heraldry, the Heroltsamt, was asked to submit suitable designs at their earliest convenience.

Before being shown to the Emperor, the designs had to be approved by Johann Albrecht, Duke of Mecklenburg, under whose supervision they were made.

When they finally reached the Emperor, he was satisdfied with most of them; on other drawings he suggested small alterations, in his own handwriting, and tye final drawings could then be made. In fact they were made, but in the meantime the war broke out, and they were never sent off to the colonies for which they were destined.  [3]


The original drawings, together with an explanation were published recently on Internet by Mr. Jörg M. Karaschewski  (in German).[4]


A New Zealand expeditionary force, the Samoan Advance Force, arrived off Apia on 29 August 1914 and demanded that Germany surrender the town and territory. The demand was refused but no resistance was offered.

Photo Shaun Aumua


The hat badge of the Samoa Expeditionary Forces consisted of the three palm-trees surrounded by a crowned garland of the silver tree fern (ponga[5]) with a listel with the legend: EXPEDIT[ionary] FORCES, and thus the use of the German three-palm-trees emblem was continued. [6]


Part of the Samoan Expeditionary Forces were the New Zealand Railway Battalions and the 5th Wellinton Rifles Regiment.


The expeditionary force was replaced in March 1915 by the Samoan Relief Force who stayed in Samoa until the end of the war and after. The occupation during World War One took place without any fighting.


After the war the League of Nations conferred upon His Britannic Majesty for and on behalf of the Dominion of New Zealand, the authority to administer German Samoa.



For the trust territory a badge was introduced on 25 January 1925 with the three palm-trees from the German coat of arms, standing on a sandy, sparsely grown over ground.




In 1946, after WW II it became a UN trust territory administered by New Zealand. A resistance movement to both German and New Zealand rule, known as the Mau (“strongly held view”) movement, helped to edge the islands toward independence on Jan. 1, 1962. A constitutional monarchy, Samoa has a legislative assembly whose members are from the matai, or titled class.


An achievement for the Trust territory was published in the New Zealand Gazette Nr. 30 of 12 April 1951. It is:


Arms: Azure, the Southern Cross of five large and one smaller stars Argent, and a chief Argent on a sea of waves engrailed Azure and Argent, a palm-tree proper.

Crest: A rising sun.

Compartment: The circles of the emblem of the U.N. surrounded by the garland of the same emblem, vert.

Motto: fa’avae i le atua samoa. (God is the Foundation of Samoa) [7].


Western Samoa was granted independence on 1 January 1962 and was named Samoa i Sisifo. It is ruled by an Assembly of Chiefs. The head of state is Malietoa Tanumafili II (1962-2007). 

The coat of arms and the motto have remained unchanged, the crest was exchanged for a latin cross radiant.


Æ See illustration in the head of this essay.


Armed Forces, Police


Samoa has no formal defense structure or regular armed forces; informal defense ties exist with NZ, which is required to consider any Samoan request for assistance under the 1962 Treaty of Friendship.


The cap badge of the Samoan police shows the achievement in silver, the garland and listel enameled green. The emblem consists of the cypher SP, surrounded by the United Nations garland and the national motto and crested with the latin cross of the national achievement within another garland.




Back to Main Page


© Hubert de Vries, 2009.02.07. Updated 2014-07-29




[1]  Heyer von Rosenfeld, Friedrich: Die Staatswappen der Bekanntesten Länder der Erde. Frankfurt a/Main, 1895, Taf. XIV.

[2]  Picture from: http://www.dr-herzfeld.de/flaggenkunde/FlaggenSchutzgebiete.pdf

[3]  Pama, C.: Lions and Virgins. Published  Cape Town,  1965; pp. 111 - 112.

[4]  Karaschewski, Jörg M.: Wappen und Flaggen in den deutschen Kolonien. Wolfenbüttel, 2011.

[5]  The leaves of the silver tree fern or ponga (Cyathea dealbata - Cyateacæa) are a symbol of the New Zealand armed forces.  They are also in the actual achievement of New Zealand.

[6]  Information and picture from Digger in History.

[7]  Hesmer, K.-H. Flaggen und Wappen, 1992, p. 135.

Flag Counter In cooperation with Heraldry of the World