During World War One over 1,000 men from Cook Islands, Fiji, Niue, Tonga, Kiribati, Tuvalu, Samoa and Norfolk Island volunteered to join the New Zealand Military Forces. Their service included Gallipoli, France, Egypt and Palestine.
As time passes it becomes increasingly difficult to uncover and piece together details of their identities, where they came from and what their experiences were. Though official records are extremely useful they do not fully describe the man or put their service in the wider context of their lives
Despite the fact that 107 of these men died of disease or enemy action, 73 were wounded in action and three became prisoners of war, their story has been untold. They served New Zealand and this is their story.
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A ground breaking, finely detailed, even-handed and long overdue account of Pacific Island soldiers in WWI— Dr Andrew Macdonald - Military Historian
Non-official records such as photos, letters and diaries breath life into the stories of their service. A sample of these can be found below
We will continue to update the site with new images, records and other details from time to timeClick here for more images
|Name||Number||Rank||Date of Death||Where buried|
|Adam, Kiro Luke||16/1007||Private||7.10.1917||New Irish Farm Cemetery, Belgium|
|Anthony, Manuel||16/1182||Corporal||10.5.1917||O'Neill's Point Cemetery, Auckland|
|Arii, Ara||16/1139||Private||24.8.1916||Hazebrouck Communal Cemetery, France|
|Banaba, Beni||19236||Sergeant||16.9.1917||O'Neill's Point Cemetery, Auckland|
|Inga||16/1184||Private||12.12.1918||Ramleh War Cemetery, Israel|
|Kamati||16/1185||Private||4.10.1918||Gaza War Cemetery, Palestine|
|Mataiti, Kai||19250||Private||16.2.1918||Ramleh War Cemetery, Israel|
|Matapo, Kaka||60713||Private||14.8.1919||Featherston Camp Cemetery, Featherston|
|Mataputa||16/1213||Private||5.3.1916||O'Neill's Point Cemetery, Auckland|
|Matau, Manavaroa||16/1189||Private||29.8.1916||Wimereux Communal Cemetery, France|
|Ngaia, Kapao||19281||Corporal||29.10.1917||Kantara War Memorial Cemetery, Egypt|
|Ngaipu, Ingatu||84503||Private||10.11.1918||O'Neill's Point Cemetery, Auckland|
|Pirangi||19296||Private||14.10.1916||O'Neill's Point Cemetery, Auckland|
|Rota, Rota||60754||Private||16.1.1919||At sea. Karori Memorial Arch, Wellington|
|Ruka, Willie||19303||Private||28.1.1917||Rookwood Necropolis Cemetery, Sydney|
|Solomona, Peter||16/1196||Lance-Corpl||3.4.1917||Waikumete Cemetery, Auckland|
|Tapapa, Akava||19239||Private||19.10.1918||Cairo War Memorial Cemetery, Egypt|
|Taringa||16/1199||Private||15.8.1916||Trois Arbres Cemetery, France|
|Taura||16/1202||Private||7.1.1917||Walton-on-Thames Cemetery, England|
|Teipo, Pai||84543||Private||10.2.1919||O'Neill's Point Cemetery, Auckland|
|Teiva, Teaumarae||19234||Private||14.9.1916||O'Neill's Point Cemetery, Auckland|
|Tepuretu, Apu||16/1222||Private||30.9.1916||Quarry Cemetery Montauban, France|
|Tete, Nikau||19284||Private||12.10.1918||Kantara War Memorial cemetery, Egypt|
|Tutavake, R.||16/1220||Private||15.10.1918||Gaza War Cemetery, Palestine|
|Vavia, W.||16/1203||Private||1.10.1916||Flatiron Copse Cemetery, France|
|Wycliffe, Peau||84501||Private||27.3.1919||O'Neill's Point Cemetery, Auckland|
To King George V - All those in authority, and the brave men who fight: I am the Island of Niue, a small child that stands up to help the kingdom of George V. There are two portions. We are offering - 1) money, 2) men— Offer of troops from Niue, 16 September 1914
|Name||Number||Rank||Date of Death||Where buried|
|Filitoua||16/1046||Private||19.6.1916||St Andrew's, Hornchurch, England|
|Kaimanu||16/1062||Private||15.3.1916||Suez War Memorial Cemetery, Egypt|
|Mitikele||16/1087||Private||16.5.1916||Tel-el-Kebir War Memorial Cemetery, Egypt|
|Moki||16/1088||Private||30.6.1916||St Andrew's, Hornchurch, England|
|Peni||16/1115||Private||23.6.1916||At sea. Karori Memorial Arch, Wellington|
|Pineki||16/1126||Private||4.7.1916||At sea. Karori Memorial Arch, Wellington|
|Pulu||16/1107||Sergeant||25.6.1916||At sea. Karori Memorial Arch, Wellington|
|Taleva||16/1132||Private||12.6.1916||St Andrew's, Hornchurch, England|
|Tauetuli||16/1155||Private||9.6.1916||Bailleul Communal Cemetery, France|
|Taumataua||16/1165||Private||19.12.1916||Waikumete Soldiers' Cemetery, Auckland|
|Timoko||16/1134||Private||21.9.1916||Waikumete Soldiers' Cemetery, Auckland|
|Tionesini||16/1133||Corporal||31.5.1916||Bailleul Communal Cemetery, France|
|Tiueatama||16/1164||Private||27.6.1916||At sea. Karori Memorial Arch, Wellington|
|Vaihola||16/1179||Private||28.6.1916||At sea. Karori Memorial Arch, Wellington|
|Vasau||16/1177||Private||11.6.1916||St Andrew's, Hornchurch, England|
|Vilipate||16/1178||Private||25.12.1915||O'Neill's Point Cemetery, Auckland|
In this section
A Telegraph Cable From Defence Headquarters About The Return of the Raratongan Company from Palestine, Lebanon and Syria
On the 9/11/18 a telegraph cable was received by the Headquarters of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force(NZEF) in Cairo from Defence Headquarters in Wellington stating:
"Firstly, in view of present progress of war (and) unsuitably for service (in) Europe and liability to contract disease in New Zealand camps, no more Rarotongans or other Pacific Islanders will be sent. Secondly, what is to be done with (the) Rarotongan Labour Company serving under you? Thirdly, being unsuited for other theatres (of) war, do you consider it advisable to repatriate (them) forthwith?"
Events moved rapidly. The same day the Commandant of the Headquarters of the NZEF wrote to the General Officer Commanding the NZEF requesting formal approval so that he could advise New Zealand, obtain the sanction of the General Headquarters for the Egyptian Expeditionary Force (EEF) and to arrange their passage to New Zealand. On 20/11/18 the NZEF advised the EEF that the Rarotongan Company would be proceeding to New Zealand and requested that the "necessary instructions be issues" to concentrated at the New Zealand Training Depot in Ismailia
Lieutenant Colonel Chaytor wrote to Headquarters NZEF on the same day and advised them that he had met with the staff in the General Headquarters and was advised that the Rarotongan Company could return to New Zealand at once. Further it had been agreed that they could travel on the SS "Malta" which was scheduled to sail for New Zealand with invalids who were returning to New Zealand. The record clerks confirmed that the number of personnel assigned to the Rarotongan Contingent and Rarotongan Company were:
The same day the New Zealand Training Units and Depots in Ismailia was advised that the Rarotongan Company would be returning by the next boat and that those individuals in Syria and Palestine would be instructed to return to the Depot to await embarkation. They were advised that the soldiers would be required to take all their clothing and personal equipment, including their rifles, webbing water bottles etc, with them.
The assembly area of the Company was modified on 22/11/18 when the GHQ advised the NZEF that they were concentrating the Rarotongans in the Ludd area in Palestine. This concentration was completed on 6/12/18 and the Company travelled by train to the NZMR Training Regiment and Depots in Ismailia.
The proposed departure date of the SS "Malta" led to a busy time for the staff of the Headquarters NZEF in locating the various soldiers and advising the various British hospitals to discharge them if possible. One of the luckier soldiers was xxxx who had been sentenced to six months imprisonment with hard labour at the Citadel Barracks in Cairo was released on remission of his sentence in order to join the boat. 16/1183 Private xxxx was a patient in the 78th General Hospital in Gaza, 19290 Private xxxx was in 17 General Hospital and 19461 Private xxxx was a patient in the 69 General Hospital Belah and were too ill to return.
In a letter from the Minister of Defense the Right Honorable Allen to Lieutenant General Birdwood he remarked:
"I am afraid you have had some bother with the Nuie Islanders. It was purely and experiment and at one time thought it could not possibly secede. Perhaps it was wrong to let them go to the front at all. From my own point of view, the sending of them was with the objective of considering the Islands in the Pacific which are under New Zealand administration, making them feel that they were all part of the one empire. Bird wood responded to Allen in early September 1915 "Long before now you will of course have heard that the Nuie Islanders were returned as apparently it was hopeless to keep them in this climate".
A platoon of individuals of mixed European and Fijian decent were offered for service with the NZEF
They left Fiji on 5 August 1918 and arrived in New Zealand 14 August 1918 on the vessel RMS Niagara". This Contingent comprised a total o one Officer and 60 soldiers. In addition one further individual paid his own way and was incorporated into the group.
On arrival in New Zealand they were sent to Narrow Neck Camp for training. At this stage seven were found to be physically unfit and were not accepted. These individual returned to Fiji on vessel SS "Makura" on 16 August 1918, leaving a Contingent of one Officer and 54 men.
Ocean Islanders Volunteer For Service
On 14 October 1914 the Representative of the Pacific Phosphate Company, a Mr Cleve Edwards, wrote to the Resident Commissioner of the Gilbert and Ellis Islands Protectorate indicating that 10 members of his staff- currently members of the Ocean Island Volunteer Reserve had volunteered for "active service at the front".
These individual were:
These individuals were certified fit for active service by the Medical Officer of the Ocean Island Volunteer Reserve a DR F J Graham and this information was passed to the High Commissioner for the Western Pacific in Fiji, who administered this area of the Pacific as part of the British Colonial structure, for transmission to the military authorities in New Zealand and Australia.
The first contingent of Rarotongans proceeded to Wellington on the RMS "Moana"
Police Sergeant J. Nash - who was being transferred back to New Zealand, was appointed as the Officer in Charge of this draft. On the journey back to New Zealand he drafted a report to Army General Staff on 6 October 1915 which stated:
"Re these men from Rarotonga. These men are absolutely new to drill and few have an understanding of English. As I presume non commissioned officers will be made of them, for their own benefit you will find Raiatea Tepweta the most suitable. He speaks excellent English and has been for a few years assistant post master at Rarotonga and is an exceedingly smart boy. Some years ago he assisted a white man at drilling boys in Rarotonga. He is a big chief's son and has a deal of influence over the boys.
His brother Apu is also a smart boy and speaks good English. A number of these boys have not been used to wearing boots and no doubt will suffer a bit at first. You will find these boys very apt at learning, some better than others and no doubt as they have led such a free and easy life with no restrictions whatsoever military life will be very strange to them and no doubt they will soon knuckle down to do what they are told. As I will soon be in Auckland I will be pleased to give you any information you require about these boys as I know them having been there for two years."
This report obviously had an effect for on 13 October 1915 the Commander of the Auckland District wrote to HQNZDF and stated that he Had noted the name of Raiatea Tepureta as a possible NCO and he would be given a chance to prove his merit.
A memo from H.H.V. Ray, Officer in Charge Cook Islands Administration to the Minister in Charge Cook Island Administration, Wellington on 26 Oct 1915, stated that:
"In answer to your question of the 16th I have the honour to inform you that the Resident Agent at Aitutaki reports that six men offer their services. In that Island the natives are apathetic in the matter of enlistment.
Then Resident Agent at Atiu reports that fifty recruits are available. There has not been the opportunity for replies from the other Islands (Mangaia, Mauke and Mitiaro) In Rarotonga 90 men attend drill, of which number I think at least 40 would enlist."
Surnames: Adams - Allan
name: Adams, Jonathan Lorenzo Crosby Regimental number: 13/2523, Rank: Corporal, Enlisted: Norfolk Island, Born: Norfolk.
Auckland Mounted Rifles. Enlisted 28/8/15 and embarked for Egypt 12/11/15. Served in Gaza, Beersheba, Jaffa and the Jordan campaign. Ill with malaria and returned to New Zealand 6/3/19 and discharged 27/6/19. Died in Auckland 19/7/1938.
Name: Aerenga, Vaine Tutai, Regimental number: 60768 rank: Private, Enlisted: Cook, Born: Mauke.
3rd Rarotongan Contingent. Enlisted 12/3/18 and embarked at Wellington 13/6/18 to disembarked at Suez 4/8/18. Posted to the Rarotongan Company 4/8/18. Embarked on SS "Malta" 14/12/18 and was discharged 20/3/19. Died in Mauke 3/9/1941.
Name: Aerengamate, Marearai, Regimental number: 60696, Rank: Private, Enlisted: Cook Islands, Born: Manihiki.
3rd Rarotongan Contingent. Attested at Rarotonga 8/2/18 and enlisted at Narrow Neck Camp 12/3/18. Posted to Rarotongan Company 20/9/18 and discharged 20/3/19. Died in Rarotonga 5/9/1954
Name: Aererua. Makiteiaa, Regimental number: 84569, Rank: Private, Enlisted: Cook Islands, Born: Mangaia.
4th Rarotongan Contingent. Enlisted 10/7/18 at Narrow Neck Camp and discharged 7/12/18.
Name: Ah Kew, Apongi, Regimental number: 19233, Rank: Private, Enlisted: Cook Islands, Born: Rarotonga.
2nd Rarotongan Contingent. Enlisted 1/7/16 in Rarotonga. Embarked on SS "Manuka" 16/11/16 and disembarked SS "Malwa" at Suez 27/12/16. Posted to Rarotongan Company 22/1/17. Discharged 20/3/19. Died 10/3/1951.
Name: Ah Mu, Mologa, Regimental number: 16/1405, Rank: Private, Enlisted: Samoa, Born: Samoa.
4th Māori Contingent. One of the Samoan Group ordered to Narrow Neck Camp for training by General Robins together with Duffy. Enlisted 5/1/16 at Trentham before training at Narrow Neck Camp. Disembarked at Suez 23/6/16 to embark from Alexandra 26/7/17 for Southampton UK 26/7/16 to arrive 7/8/16. Left UK for France 28/8/16. Admitted to 1st Australian Field Ambulance between 9/12/16 to 17/12/16 with bronchitis and to the 2nd New Zealand Field Ambulance between 28/12/16 to 21/1/17 with bronchitis. Transferred to the Rarotongan Company 14/1/18 and embarked for Egypt from Marseilles 21/1/18. Posted to the Rarotongan Company 7/3/18. Embarked on SS "Malta" 14/12/18. Discharged 23/3/19 to return to Samoa.
Name: Aiaia, Akatea, Regimental number: 16/1183, Rank: Private, Enlisted: Cook Islands, Born: Mangaia.
3rd Māori and 1st Rarotongan Contingent. Disembarked at Suez from SS "Navua" and embarked for France with the New Zealand Pioneer Battalion 9/4/16. Admitted to the 7th General Hospital 8/6/16 with measles. Transferred to the Rarotongan Company 14/1/18 and embarked for Egypt from Marseilles 21/1/18. Admitted to 27th General Hospital at Abbassia with malaria from 17/7/18 to 2/8/18. Posted to the Rarotongan Company in the field 15/11/18. In hospital - malaria- and Antae Convalescent Home at time of "Malta" sailing. Embarked on HMT 'Kaikoura" 6/3/1919 for New Zealand. Discharged 9/7/19 medically unfit. Died Rarotonga 6/6/1921. Buried at the Government Cemetery Rarotonga. In 1928 he was ruled as not eligible for the WW1 plaque and scroll.
Name: Akeau, Atama, Regimental number: 60685, Rank: Private, Enlisted: Cook Islands, Born: Manihiki.
2nd Rarotongan Contingent. Also known as INAKANA, Atama. Enlisted 12/3/18 and embarked 13/6/18. Posed to the Rarotongan Company 20/9/18. Admitted to 48th Stationary Hospital with measles and then on 2/11/18 to Aotea Convalescent Home. Discharged 20/3/19. Died Rarotonga 27/1/1924 of tuberculosis. Cook Island Archives records stated that he was "injured in the war".
Name: Alfred, William, Regimental number: 12/1539A, Rank: Private, Enlisted: Niue, Born: Niue.
3rd Reinforcements and 15 Company Auckland Infantry Battalion. Born Niue and was a seaman when he enlisted 24/12/14. WIA Gallipoli 30/5/16 shrapnel to the head and WIA Gallipoli GSW to forearm 7/8/15. Admitted to 1st Australian General Hospital Cairo 11/8/15. Embarked at Suez on SS "Willochra" for New Zealand 25/9/15. Discharged 22/3/16. Died 27/8/1966 and buried Waikumete Cemetery, Auckland.
Name: Allan. Make, Regimental number: 3/1379, Rank: Private, Enlisted: Niue, Born: Niue.
New Zealand Medical Corps. Enlisted from the sailing vessel "Jsabel" ex Auckland harbour at Awapuni Palmerston North 24/11/15 and attached to Hospital Ship "Marama" 4/12/15. Joined New Zealand General Hospital Egypt 12/1/16 and the New Zealand Auxiliary Hospital 7/2/16. Attached to 1st New Zealand Field Ambulance 20/3/16 and then to the 3rd Machine Gun Company 1/4/16. In France with 3rd Field Ambulance from April 1916 until detached to 3rd Battalion 3 New Zealand Rifle Brigade 9/7/17. WIA 12/10/17 with GSW to right leg at Ypres and admitted to 11th Field Ambulance, then to Royal Victorian Hospital England then to New Zealand General Hospital Brockhurst 15/2/18. Embarked on Hospital Ship "Marama" for New Zealand 6/4/18. Died 25/6/1918 in Avondale Mental Hospital New Zealand. Buried Waikumete Cemetery, Glen Eden Auckland Soldiers Area A, Row 1, Plot 3. Next of Kin details - Son of Togatau and Toi (Mother) of Tamakautoga, Niue. Enlistment documents also state Next of Kin as Moka La (Father). He was also know as Niki Aelani and as Seuga.