In 1915, as a small protectorate of New Zealand, the 150 Niuean men who chose to join the New Zealand Forces in the First World War will always be remembered, their sacrifice officially made Niue a part of the ANZAC family.
One hundred and seven years on, this year’s national ANZAC commemoration also marks the 75th anniversary since the very first ANZAC remembrance was held in Niue in 1947.
Forced indoors for the initial part of the service because of the heavy downpour and the grounds flooded but the tradition of the remembrance service proceeded.
The three countries Niue, New Zealand and Australia were represented with the traditional speeches.
Representing Australia, Her Excellency Louise Ellerton in her first ANZAC commemoration in Niue.
“Today we pause to honour, respect, and to remember the event that has given us our shared identity. However, this campaign is not just about Australia and New Zealand, this campaign features Niue’s history and national identity. Despite its remoteness and tiny population, in October 1915 150 Niuean men enlisted in the New Zealand Expeditionary Force. Volunteers, men who represented a cross-section of Niue’s society”.
On this day we remind ourselves of the sacrifice and contribution the men from Niue made. The 150 men who left Niue to serve deserve to be remembered they are not forgotten or overlooked by the passing of years.”
Representing the New Zealand government Deputy High Commissioner Nigel Ewels reflects on the sacrifice of the ANZACs but also to remember that divisions and conflicts still exist today.
“As Australians, New Zealanders and Niueans pause to mark ANZAC day this year, our attention turns to the courageous actions of our service personnel and the sacrifices they have made across history.
We take time today to remember the generations of all three countries, who without a guarantee of safe return left their homes and families for shores unknown. While we reflect on their experiences, we should also consider the division that still exists in our world today and the enduring impact of war and conflict.”
Speaking on behalf of the Niue RSA, Mrs Lalomanogi Togiakona thanked the governments of Niue, New Zealand and Australia for the continuing assistance and support for the Niue RSA over the many years.
Mrs Togiakona also responded to the request of the Niue government made at last year’s ANZAC remembrance when Minister of Social Services Hon. Sauni Togatule said that the government would like to play a bigger role in the ANZAC commemorations. Minister Togatule had used the example of the graves of the men who returned from WW1 but are not cared for.
The response from the Niue RSA is that for the past 75 years, the Niue RSA and the descendants of the 150 men have proudly taken the responsibility for the ANZAC commemorations and will continue to do so. She reminded the government that for many years, they have asked for assistance from the government, and they will continue to ask but they will not want any changes to the RSA Niue, for it to come under a government agency.
It’s understood that for many years, the Niue RSA have asked for assistance to build a place for the Niue RSA, like many RSA clubs in New Zealand and Australia to remember the 150 men who sacrificed their lives for the cause. Yet, this call remains unanswered.
On the News of the Week Radio programme last Friday RSA Niue’s President, Charlie Tohovaka spoke passionately about the mana that these 150 men brought to Niue, and that their sacrifice put Niue on the world map.
Tohovaka says that on a number of occasions when New Zealand dignitaries like former NZ and Niue Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae and Former NZ Foreign Minister Winston Peters visited Niue, they would say to him “Charlie lets go to your RSA for a beer” how embarrassed he was to turn them down because Niue does not have an RSA Club.
The Niue RSA is a non-government organisation made up of the descendants of the 150 men whose sacrifice officially made Niue part of the ANZAC family.
Charlie Tohovaka spoke of the pledge by the former premier the late Sir Toke Talagi for monetary assistance to start this project and as, yet they are still waiting.
At the ANZAC Remembrance yesterday there was no pledge from the government to help move with this project.
One hundred and seven years since they left Niue in 1915, their sacrifice is still remembered, never to be forgotten least of all by their descendants for generations to come.