Political map of Australia, New Zealand & the Southwest Pacific 02 July 1971 (Independence for the Pacific Islands): The 1960s saw the beginning of the withdrawal of the colonial powers from the Pacific Islands. In 1962, New Zealand granted independence to Western Samoa (History of Samoa), with Australia and Britain pulling out of their Pacific colonies from the late 1960s on (Decolonization of Oceania). By 1980, only the French still retained a significant overseas empire in the region (French overseas departments and territories).