Armistice Centenary: Remembering the Contributions of Māori, Chinese, and Pasifika Men

https://natlib.govt.nz/records/22893971
Pioneer Battalion performing a haka. Royal New Zealand Returned and Services’ Association:New Zealand official negatives, World War 1914-1918. Ref: 1/2-013282-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. https://natlib.govt.nz/records/22893971 

On Sunday 11 November the world commemorates 100 years since the signing of the armistice that ended the First World War in 1918. Over 100,000 New Zealanders served during the war and more than 18,000 were killed. This had a devastating affect on people at home and on November 11 1918 the armistice came as a huge relief that was met with joy and thankfulness. Armistice Day has since become a time to reflect on the losses of the war, the hopes of peace, and the contributions of all who served.

An often unknown part of New Zealand’s involvement in the First World War is the courageous participation of Māori, New Zealand Chinese, Cook Island Māori, Fijians, Niueans, Tongans, Samoans, Tuvaluans, and men from Kiribati and Norfolk Island. More than 2,200 Māori and around 500 Pasifika men served overseas with the New Zealand Forces. Just like other ANZAC soldiers these men left their homes, families, and cultures to go to the other side of the world and fight in what was hoped to be ‘the war to end all wars’. They frequently experienced racism, deprivation, and a lack of acknowledgement after the war of their valuable contribution. The story of Te Hokowhitu a Tu, the Māori Pioneer Battalion, is an important part of our First World War history and we have a good selection of items in our library that chronicle the Battalion and the involvement of soldiers from the Pacific.

To learn more, check out the display of books on the second floor at the Central Library and explore the titles and websites listed below:


Te Hokowhitu a Tu : the Maori Pioneer Battalion in the First World War / Christopher Pugsley.
“Distinguished military historian Chris Pugsley recounts the story of the Māori Pioneer Battalion for a new generation. Drawing on rare archival material and previously unpublished diaries and letters, he tells not only the wider story of the the Battalion’s military exploits but also gives a vivid account of the daily life of the soldiers on active service. Illustrated with a large number of fascinating photographs, the book also includes a complete list of all those soldiers who fought with the Battalion.” (Adapted from book cover)

Maiea te tupua : whānau accounts of Waikato-Maniapoto World War One veterans and one conscriptee : commemorating 100 years of World War One / produced by Pūrekireki Marae with the support from Te Pua Wānanga ̄ki te Ao of the University of Waikato, the Waikato Raupatu Lands Trust, the Maniapotō Māori Trust Board, Trust Waikato and Te Puni Kōkiri.
This beautifully illustrated book contains whānau accounts of Waikato-Maniapoto World War One veterans and one conscriptee. It was written by Tom Roa and Maehe Paki and gives moving personal accounts from family members.

Syndetics book coverMaori in the great war / James Cowan.
“In 1914 the population of New Zealand was little more than one million, of whom 50,000 were Maori. Eventually 2227 Maori men served overseas, the vast majority volunteers. 336 paid the supreme sacrifice, of whom 196 were killed in action or died of wounds. A further 734 were wounded, an over-all casualty rate approaching 50%. This revised; Maori in the Great War; contains appendices specifying full details of every soldier who served as well as the Roll of Honour.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverNiue and the Great War / Margaret Pointer.
“The story of tiny Niue’s involvement in the Great War has captivated people since an account was first published by Margaret Pointer in 2000. In 1915, 160 Niuean men joined the NZEF as part of the 3rd Māori Reinforcements and set sail to Auckland and then Egypt and France. Most had never left the island before, or worn shoes before. Most spoke no English. Most significantly, they had no immunity to European disease. Within three months of leaving New Zealand, over 80 per cent of them had been hospitalised.” (Adapted from book cover)

Syndetics book coverKoe kau to’a na’anau poletau/Valiant volunteers: soldiers from Tonga in the Great War / Christine Liava’a.
“At the beginning of the Great War, 1914-1918, the British Empire rallied to Lord Kitchener’s call to arms. British men in Tonga, a protectorate of Britain, although never part of the Empire, heeded his call and enlisted in the Australian and New Zealand forces. Some Tongan men joined them. This book lists the names of these men with their military details, family information, awards, and their deaths. Many photographs are included. An overview of their service and a chronology of events are also given.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Le fitafita mai Samoa/The force from Samoa: soldiers from the Samoan Islands in the Great War / Christine Liava’a.
“At the beginning of the Great War, 1914-1918, Western Samoa was invaded and captured by a New Zealand force acting on behalf of Britain. Australia similarly invaded and captured German New Guinea. Thus the German possessions in the South Pacific were rendered incapable of assisting in the German war effort. American Samoa remained neutral until 1917, when American men were registered as available for service, Volunteers from both Western and American Samoa enlisted in New Zealand, Australia, America and Britain. This book lists all the men from the islands of Samoa who served in these forces, with their military details, family information, awards, and deaths. Photographs of as many as possible are included. An overview of the situation and events in Samoa, a chronology, and several appendices are also given.” (Syndetics summary)

Soldiers from the Pacific: the story of Pacific Island soldiers in the New Zealand Expeditionary Force in World War One / Howard Weddell ; edited and produced by Peter Cooke, Defence of NZ Study Group.
“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. 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, regrettably their story has yet to be told. They served New Zealand and this is their story.” (Back cover)

Chinese Anzacs : Australians of Chinese descent in the defence forces 1885-1919 / by Alistair Kennedy.
Chinese ANZACs discusses the little known participation of Australian-born and New Zealand-born Chinese in the defence forces during the First World War. Includes a list of New Zealand-born Chinese in the NZEF 1915-1919.

Websites:

Te Puni Kōkiri: Kei Wareware Tātou, Lest We Forget

Te Ara: Māori Contingent in the First World War

New Zealand History: Māori in the NZEF Pioneer Battalion

Te Papa: Were there Pacific Islanders at Gallipoli in 1915?

Sunday 11 November 2018 Commemorations:

Armistice Day 2018 will be marked with events throughout New Zealand including the live-streaming of the Armistice Centenary National Ceremony at Pukeahu National War Memorial Park in central Wellington. Check out this website for details: Armistice Centenary

Armistice Day

New Zealand in German Samoa

On 29 August 1914, New Zealand troops arrived in Samoa and seized it from German control. This turned out to be a reasonably simple expedition but at the time it was regarded as potentially risky, with unknown consequences.

Samoa had been under German rule since 1900, but the presence of Germany in Samoa predates this. In 1855 Germany expanded its trading into the Pacific, initiating large-scale production of coconut, cacao and hevea rubber in Samoa (then known as the Navigator Islands). America and the United Kingdom also had business interests in the Pacific and opposed the German activity, which lead to the Second Samoan Civil War in 1899. Following this war, the Samoan islands were divided between the three opposing powers, with Germany being awarded what is today known as Western Samoa. It became regarded as the ‘jewel’ of German colonialism.

At the outbreak of war in 1914, Samoa was of moderate strategic importance to Germany. Using the radio transmitter located in the hills above Apia, German troops were able to send Morse code signals to Berlin, as well as communicate with the 90 warships in Germany’s naval fleet. Britain wanted this threat neutralised and New Zealand agreed to seize Samoa from Germany.

officers
Officers attached to the New Zealand Expeditionary Force, Samoa. Tattersall, Alfred James, 1866-1951 :Photographs of Samoa. Ref: PAColl-3062-3-18. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23195986

New Zealand troops departed from Wellington on the morning of Saturday 15 August in two ships, Monowai and Moeraki. These two ships had been requisitioned from the Union Steam Ship Company as transports, and were therefore slow and unarmed. These two unlikely war ships left the New Zealand convoy extremely vulnerable as they travelled to Samoa, especially as the location of the German East Asia Squadron was unknown to the Allies throughout their two week journey.

moeraki
S S Moeraki leaving Wellington. Dickie, John, 1869-1942 :Collection of postcards, prints and negatives. Ref: 1/1-002258-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22460165

When the New Zealand convoy reached French New Caledonia, they were joined by the Royal Australian Navy’s battlecruiser HMAS Australia, the light cruiser HMAS Melbourne and the French armoured cruiser Montcalm. While the landing at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915 is acknowledged as the birth of the Anzac legend, the first Australian–New Zealand military operation of the First World War was actually the capture of German Samoa in August 1914.

landing
Tattersall, Alfred James, 1866-1951. New Zealand troops landing in Samoa during World War I. Making New Zealand :Negatives and prints from the Making New Zealand Centennial collection. Ref: MNZ-0366-1/4-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22716395

Upon reaching Samoa, it became known to the New Zealand convoy that the German defences there were in fact quite weak; they had only 20 troops and special constables armed with 50 aging rifles. The Samoa Advance Party of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force landed at Apia on 29 August with no opposition. It was later discovered that the German administration had received orders from Berlin not to oppose an Allied invasion.

camp
Part of camp, Malifa, Western Samoa. Hackworth, Philip Vernon, d 1960 :Photograph album. Ref: PA1-q-107-36-2. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22806414

A fortnight later, on 14 September, the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau arrived off Apia and the New Zealand garrison braced itself for large-calibre gunfire. Luckily, the cruisers left once their skippers realised that Samoa was no longer in German hands. Samoa was then declared to be under a New Zealand-run British military occupation. The British flag was raised outside the government building in Apia and Samoa became the second German territory, after Togoland in Africa, to fall to the Allies in the First World War.

troops
Star Boating Club :Photograph of members of the club who went to Samoa with Expeditionary Force, 1914.. Ref: PAColl-5216. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22348195

If you would like to learn more about New Zealand in German Samoa, we have some materials available:

Syndetics book coverFighting for empire: New Zealand and the Great War of 1914-1918 / Christopher Pugsley.
“One hundred thousand New Zealanders sailed to war between 1914 and 1918, and at the end of four years of conflict the country had suffered 60,000 casualties, including 18,000 dead. Dr Chris Pugsley’s account of the First World War (first published as a section in Scars on the Heart: 200 Years of NZ at War, Bateman, 1996), is a tale of learning about war the hard way, by bitter and costly experience, drawing on photographs, letters and diaries to examine the impact of war through the eyes of those involved. This lively mix of text, photographs and soldiers’ own accounts covers all aspects of the war: from NZ’s seizing German Samoa five days after war was declared, ANZAC Cove and Gallipoli, patriotism at home, Mounted Rifles in Sinai and Palestine, the role of our nurses, the Western Front, and ‘Sea Dogs and Flying Aces – how our sailors and airmen fought the war’.” (Syndetics summary)

THE SAMOA (N.Z.) EXPEDITIONARY FORCE
We have this book in our New Zealand Rare books collection. Published in 1924, it is in a fragile condition but may be viewed by request at the 2nd floor enquiries desk.

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Information sourced from NZ History and Wikipedia
Images sourced from Timeframes