To Walk Under Palm Trees

The Germans in Samoa: Snapshots from Albums



Clearing the land of felled trees was a massive undertaking. Oskar Stunzner advises that the following clearance practices were in operation in German times: a.) felling was done using axe and cross-cut saw, and occasionally by burning; b.) usually about 25% of vegetation was left as a wind break on the side of the prevailing wind; c.) bullock teams were sometimes used to carry away useful timber; d.) some timber was stacked to be used later to fire dryers; e.) some was stacked and burnt; f.) some was left to rot on the ground, which did not take too  long in the wet and humid conditions. There were sometimes agreements with the neighbouring village to provide young men who were paid in kind by the owner of the country to be cleared. This was in the form of food and equipment such as axes and machetes.

Despite the intimidating vista presented in this photo the Magia Plantation had most of this land planted in cocoa trees by the end of 1913, as well as 70ha of already established coconut palms. This brave venture employed over 80 Chinese workers when it was under German control.   

Credit: Grapengiesser Family Collection, photographer A.J.Tattersall (restored by T.Brunt 2014).

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