Commemorating the contribution of the Pacific Islands to the First World War

Talofa lava, Kia orana, Malo e lelei, Fakaalofa lahi atu

On Friday 28th of November from 11am – 1pm, Va Pasifika and the team at Aranui Library will join the Pacific community of Christchurch in acknowledging and commemorating the contribution of the Pacific Island British Colonies to World War 1.

There were around 1700 Pacific Islanders directly involved in the war effort (including medical personnel), and those that were unable to serve overseas formed groups to raise funds and donated goods, money, labour and services. Niue, Cook Islands, Fiji, Rotuma, Samoa, Tonga, Tokelau, Tahiti, Hawai’i and as far East as Kiribati or Gilbert Islands are all recorded as having men that served during the First World War. The Great War was both a huge opportunity for these small island colonies to prove their loyalty to the British Empire, but also planted the seed of the move toward independence for the larger island nations – which is so crucial to the diverse make-up of the Pacific Islands we know today.

Our Pasifika Talanoa (or storytelling) on the 28th of November will give our Pasifika elders an opportunity to share the stories of family members, and highlight the contributions of their homelands. We are hoping to also, record their stories and make these available for the public to access. The Talanoa will also be an opportunity for our elders to have a preview of the research and Pasifika World War 100 material that we have been gathering and will be exhibited at Aranui.

The event will run from 11am until 1pm, with light refreshment provided.

Jan-Hai TeRatana
Aranui Library