Niue unveils memorials for WWI centenary

Niue unveils memorials for WWI centenary

Niue has marked 100 years since its contingent left for the battlefields of World War I.

Memorials were unveiled to commemorate the soldiers' sacrifice, which still resonates a century on.

One hundred years ago, 150 men – about four percent of the population – left their home for the first time to fight a foreign war. They formed the Niuean Pioneer Battalion sent to New Zealand for training in 1915.

Taveli Hakaveli Hakeagaiki was one.

"My father was only 16 years old, and they [weren't] allowed to take him, but they picked him because he is a tall man and he's a strong man," says Tolina Faleolo, his only surviving child.

Many of the Niueans fell ill and died from European illnesses they weren't immune to.

By the time they reached France in 1916 almost 80 percent of the battalion had been hospitalised, leading to the decision to return to survivors to Niue.

It's estimated around 40 of the original contingent would die from conditions related to their service.

Reminders of their sacrifice can be found all over the small Pacific island, and today Niue came to a halt as two new memorials were unveiled to mark the 100th anniversary.

On this proud island, they will forever be remembered.

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