Samoa and Tokelau Cross International Date Line

Posted December 30th, 2011 at 4:35 am (UTC-5)
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The tiny Pacific island nation of Samoa and nearby atolls of New Zealand-administered Tokelau skipped Friday this year and moved from Thursday straight to Saturday to align themselves with their trading partners in the region.

At the stroke of midnight , the islands reversed a 120-year-old policy of being east of the International Date Line, and moved west of the line.

Officials say the jump forward in time corrects a calendar problem that kept Samoa on Sunday, while its trading partners were conducting business Monday. Likewise, when Samoans were working Friday, it was Saturday further west.

Samoan reporter Autagavaia Tipi tells VOA the change will help Samoan commerce.

“We have our closest trading partners: New Zealand and Australia, plus Japan and China in Asia. The government has made the decision for us to shift from the eastern side to the western side. It's for us to make it easier for doing trade with those countries.”

The current time zone was agreed in 1892, to work in line with American traders based in California. Tipi says the return to Samoa's original position on the International Date Line is also a good business move.

“The government felt that in the new millennium we're making a lot of business with New Zealand and Australia and also Japan and China. Very little business with the United States. So I think it's about the right time for us to move to the original side that we were of the International Date Line.”

Tipi says there is no controversy about the move because everything will return to normal in the New Year.