Feagaiga Stowers led the Samoan team into the Opening Ceremony ©ITG

Performances from students and an extravagant firework display marked the start of the Samoa 2019 Pacific Games here as wet weather failed to dampen the Opening Ceremony.

A sustained storm in the hours leading up to the Ceremony initially looked likely to cast a cloud over proceedings but organisers were left thankful when the weather cleared an hour before the start.

The Ceremony began with the Parade of Nations and 2015 hosts Papua New Guinea led the delegations into the stadium.

Samoa were the last of the 24 nations and territories to enter the packed Apia Park venue with their 506-strong team led by flagbearer Feagaiga Stowers from weightlifting.

The team also includes Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi who will compete in the archery competition here.

The 74-year-old had official duties to conduct as he helped open the Games by reflecting on the challenge Samoa has had in preparing for the multi-sport event in a short window, while also joking about the weather.

Samoa were named as hosts in December 2017 after the Games were stripped from initial hosts Tonga.

Samoa were the final nation to enter the stadium ©ITG
Samoa were the final nation to enter the stadium ©ITG

"On behalf of the Government and people of Samoa I wish to welcome you all and visitors from the 24 nations," Tuilaepa said.

"These Games will see the Pacific Games return to Samoa for the first time since 2007.

"This month is known for being dry and sunny.

"You have seen a bit of that over the past few days and a few complaints from the archers because of the light.

"So today we have had the rain.

"We always try our best.

"These Games were initially awarded to Tonga, but Samoa secured this rare opportunity in 2017 to host the event.

"This Games will see the return of archery and badminton, the addition of 3x3 basketball and the opportunity to set many new records will be a reality.

"Pacific Governments and development partners have reaffirmed their commitment to sport development and elite performance.

"This will have many positive impacts across our islands.

"Sport is powerful in uniting nations and cannot be underestimated."

Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi claimed the Games would have a positive impact on the region ©Olympic Channel
Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi claimed the Games would have a positive impact on the region ©Olympic Channel

Vidhya Lakhan, the President of the Pacific Games Council, offered his thanks to Samoa for their efforts to ensure the Games were held.

He noted the challenges organisers had faced since the host nation stepped in while he welcomed Australia and New Zealand, who are competing as guest nations for the second consecutive edition.

"I afford a very special welcome to Australia and New Zealand, who are special guests of the Council," Lakhan said.

"This Government and the Samoan Parliament have gone to great lengths to prepare for these Games.

"In less than 18 months they have done tremendously well.

"We want to create bonds of friendship and brotherhood across the region through sport.

"I believe in the preparations for these Games and you have successfully met the challenge.

"What will be delivered by the Games will be the result of hard work from the Organising Committee.

"We say a very sincere thank you to all of you."

New Zealand soprano Isabella Moore and 2,000 school students took on leading roles during the Ceremony.

The latter helped depict the legend of Leatiogie and his blind father Fe'epo, along with the traditional game of aigofie.

Leatiogie was selected as the concept at the annual Samoa Ne'i Galo festival last year, with the story's narrative aimed at unity and "one spirit" to address challenges.

Local officials had hoped to develop an Opening Ceremony around the Games slogan "One in Spirit".

The Ceremony concluded with the lighting of the Games cauldron, with the honour given to three-time Pacific Games weightlifting gold medallist Ele Opeloge.

Opeloge is Samoa's sole Olympic medallist, having been upgraded to a silver medal at Beijing 2008 after two rivals were disqualified for doping offences after reanalysis of samples.

The lighting of the cauldron prompted a 20 minute firework display which was paid for by the Chinese Government.