Samoan Land


Archives New Zealand holds some historical records relating to the sale and purchase of land in Samoa. However we do not hold any copies of the Land and Titles registers. These are held by the Land and Titles Court in Apia. What we hold is patchy and spread across the records of the various administrations that governed Samoa (timeline over the page).

British Consul Deeds 1856-1915

British purchasers of land, including traders and missionaries, registered their purchases with the British Consul. These are recorded in Volumes 8-12 of the British Consul Deeds Registers and the WPHC Lands Register. They are copies of the original Deeds and contain the names of the parties and where they were from, the date, location and boundaries, the amount paid, and the names of witnesses.

Indexes to the Deeds Registers

Deeds Registers

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Imperial German Samoa Files 1900-1914

Some land files can be found in records of the Imperial German Administration of Samoa. The files are mainly in German and are fragile, so most are on microfilm (although some have been digitised). A basic index to the files can be found at the back of the Samoa paper finding aid. Series 6051 contains some files on purchases of land, registration, estates, cultivations and plantations, and can be found using the term ‘land’ in an advanced search on Archway.

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Land and Titles Commission Files 1903-1921

In 1903 a commission was set up to investigate titles to land. Series 6070: Registers of Land Files (1903-1921) has two registers, one in Samoan and one in German (Micro 5956). Arranged by case number (LK1 to 610) they give names, area under dispute and decisions made. Series 6071 Register of Decisions (1903-1911) also records decisions. Series 6080 Papers Relating to Land (1902-1913) (Micro 5953) contains correspondence on cases, sometimes with the LK number found in Series 6070 and 6071.

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High Court Case Files 1914-1920

Series 18976 (Samoa-BMO4) contains German High Court case files that the British Military Occupation took over in 1914. Most of the records are in German, although there are post-1914 records in English. The most relevant files relating to land appear to be C: Property Disputes (1900-1920), although Arbitration and Inheritance cases also deal with land. The records are not indexed but are organised by year, so knowing the date of the dispute or inheritance is ideal. 

Other research tips: Try searching the name of the village or district on Archway (village files from Series 18973 have been digitised and can be viewed online). Also try family surnames (most will be Immigration files however). Use the Index at the back of the Samoa paper finding aid in the Reading Room.

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Samoan Administration Timeline

Records relating to the Governmental administration of Samoa have been generated by several countries since as early as 1847. The following agencies were based in Western Samoa with responsibility for the provision of administrative services in Western Samoa on behalf of their respective countries. 

samoan administration record timeline

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