Navigating New Zealand colonialism: “more interested in playing cricket than in Samoan politics”

  • Benjamin Sacks
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Sport and Politics book series (PASSP)


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.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Benjamin Sacks
    • 1
  1. 1.The University of Western AustraliaCrawleyAustralia

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