Newspaper article Tweed Daily News (Tweed Heads, Australia)

Trip Down Memory Lane in Search of Banana Legacy

Newspaper article Tweed Daily News (Tweed Heads, Australia)

Trip Down Memory Lane in Search of Banana Legacy

Article excerpt

Byline: Graham Callaghan

CUROSITY killed the cat but information bought him back.

This paradox tells in short why the 17-member "Smith Family Group" made their eight-day trek to Apia, Samoa, returning earlier this month.

Back in 1965, Murwillumbah-based fruit inspector Jim Smith, at the request of the Australian Government's Department of Agriculture, went to Samoa to help restore and revitalise their failing banana industry.

Jim, 47 then, was accompanied by his wife Flo and the three youngest of their 10 children --Glenda (Wagner), Trish (John) and Janine (Prichard) -- to start their new lives in Apia, arriving on June 3, 1965.

Last week seven siblings -- Gloria Lack, Taru Hoogenboom, Val Callaghan, Rob Smith, Neville Smith, Trish John, Janine Prichard their husbands, wives, partners and children made up the group seeking answers.

Both Jim and Flo and sons Trevor and Keith are now deceased but Poppy Jim wrote a book for his family before his death and chapter nine, titled "Samoa," was a pretty good place to start research.

The chapter tells of the work Jim had accomplished during his initial two-year stint working for the Samoan Department of Agriculture, including his cultural experiences and everyday life in the islands.

A Samoan named Misa was Jim's right-hand man and interpreter. They were inseparable and the book discloses that at times Jim was not completely sure Misa was getting an accurate message across of Jim's feelings.

Nothing could be done in a village without a kava ceremony and a lot of talk with chiefs in a fale (house).

From Jim's point, the talks were long and boring and painful as they had to sit on the floor with legs crossed, often for hours.

In the kava ceremonies, which took place first and were "long enough" the recipient said "manula" and gulped kava down. …

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