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Independence (1962) After repeated efforts by the Samoan independence movement, Western Samoa gained independence on 1 January 1962 and signed a friendship treaty with New Zealand. Samoa, the first small-island country in the Pacific to become independent, joined the Commonwealth of Nations on 28 August 1970. While independence was achieved at the beginning of January, Samoa annually celebrates 1 June as its independence day. In 2002 New Zealand's prime minister Helen Clark forma