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Niue and The Great War


Wed 17 Oct 2018, 12:10pm–1:00pm

Where: Te Ahumairangi Ground Floor, National Library, cnr Molesworth & Aitken Streets, Thorndon, Wellington

Restrictions: All Ages

Ticket Information:

  • Admission: Free

Listed by: Joan McCracken

Niue Language Week:
To mark Niue Language Week, Margaret Pointer will talk about her new book on tiny Niue’s involvement in the Great War sending 160 men as part of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force.

Niuean soldiers and European disease:
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 New Zealand Expeditionary Force as part of the Maori Reinforcements and set sail to Auckland and then Egypt and France.

Most had never left the island or worn shoes before. Most spoke no English. Most significantly, they had no immunity to European disease. Within 3 months of leaving New Zealand, over 80 per cent of them had been hospitalised and the army authorities withdrew them.

Niue and the Great War
Margaret Pointer became involved in research to trace the lost story of Niue's involvement in World War I while living on the island in the 1990s.

The resulting book, Tagi Tote e Loto Haaku: My Heart is Crying a Little, was published in 2000. Her research has continued since, and Niue and the Great War (OUP, 2018) contains many new insights. The story has now been set in a wider Pacific context and also considers the contribution made by colonial troops, especially `coloured' ones, to the Allied effort.

Margaret will talk about the challenges in writing this book and the effect on Niue of sending these 160 men off to war.

About the speaker
Margaret Pointer is a well know writer and speaker on Niue. Her previous publication was Niue 1777-1974: 200 years of contact and change (Otago University Press, 2015). Margaret lives in Wellington and visits Niue frequently.

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