Colonial officials: play halted “in the interests of industry and progress”
This chapter explores how foreign officials understood and responded to kirikiti. Prior to partition, officials overwhelmingly understood kirikiti as wasteful and disruptive, even if colonial rivalries sometimes modulated their opposition. After partition, commercial and ideological factors meant officials in German Samoa sought to regulate the game, albeit not always rigorously or consistently. Such efforts were also evident in the US-controlled islands, notwithstanding American officials’ comparatively modest ambitions for reform. Finally, while officers in New Zealand’s wartime administration showed little appetite or capability for proscription, their successors after 1920 aimed to reshape Samoan society—including by targeting ‘inefficient’ practices such as kirikiti. As such, official antipathy towards kirikiti was remarkably consistent throughout the period of study—even if their reasons for opposing it were subtly different.