This rare photo shows Niuean soldiers lining up before their departure (Image courtesy of Huanaki Museum, Niue)

Niue Pacific islanders who served New Zealand in WW1 remembered

Posted on on 20 October 2015
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The war effort of the small Pacific island of Niue is being remembered, a century after 150 men sailed to join New Zealand's forces in 1915.

The King of Niue offered troops as soon as news of the outbreak of the First World War arrived by mailboat in September 1914.

Niue is a remote coral atoll in the Pacific Ocean, lying 2,400 kilometres (1,500 miles) northeast of New Zealand which had annexed it at the start of the 20th century. In 1914, the population numbered less than 4,000.

Two new cenotaphs were unveiled during ceremonies in the capital, Alofi, marking the centenary of the Niuean contingent's departure. The New Zealand Foreign Minister, Murray McCully, attended the events on on October 13th 2015.

On October 18th, the Ode of Remembrance was recited in Niuean, by the Rev.Tom Etuata of the Niuean community, during the Last Post service at New Zealand's National War Memorial in Wellington.

Roll of Honour

Three Niuean soldiers who served in the Great War will be added to the New Zealand Roll of Honour and Commonwealth War Graves Commission records, it's been announced.

Privates Alotau, Mitipauni and Muimatagi died after returning home, from illnesses contracted while serving with the New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF).

Their names are being included in the Roll of Honour after extensive research into First World War records by the NZ Defence Force, Culture & Heritage Minister Maggie Barry explained.

She said: “The Ministry for Culture and Heritage will ensure their names are inscribed on the Roll and will take their graves under its care, safeguarding their future maintenance. In Niuean Language Week, and on the centenary of their departure for New Zealand, it is fitting we can finally give these brave men the recognition they deserve."

"They volunteered to leave their island home to fight on the other side of the world for New Zealand and the British Empire, and we owe them a great debt, as we do all who fought in the First World War."

More about how Niue joined the war can be found in an article by Margaret Pointer on the New Zealand WW100 website. Today, Niue is a self-governing state in free association with New Zealand.

Sources: New Zealand Government; NZ WW100

Images courtesy of Huanaki Museum, Niue

Posted by: Peter Alhadeff, Centenary News