Anzac Websites  

Anzac Websites
Pacific Islanders in WW1
Pacific Islander participation in WW1




Pacific Islander participation in WW1 Pacific Islanders in the NZEF (

The Cook Islands and Niue (two New Zealand territories) were the main Pacific islands contribution to the New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF).

and the Gilbert and Ellice Islands (both British colonies at the time) offered ethnically mixed contributions to the NZEF towards the end of the war, and were accepted, but the war finished before they could be sent overseas for active service.
For more information, see:

- Pacific Islanders in the NZEF page 5 (
- Fiji in World War 1 (
The Gilbert and Ellis Islands later split up and today are known as Kiribati and Tuvalu.

Samoan soldiers in WW1 (
German-controlled Samoa was seized by the Australians, New Zealanders and French at the beginning of World War 1.
Some Samoan-born men living in Australia and New Zealand joined the armed forces of those countries in 1914 and fought at Gallipoli.
In 1915 and 1916 a number of Samoans joined the New Zealand forces and fought on the Western Front.

Tonga in World War 1 (
Although Tonga was not a British colony, it maintained a formal friendship with Britain. However, most of the Tongans who wished to enlist to fight in the war joined the New Zealand forces.

Gallipoli Were there Pacific Islanders at Gallipoli in 1915? (
Yes. George Tuaine (Tuainekara Tinirau Tamatoa) from the Cook Islands (see image below) and Bernard Stanley Gurr from the island of Tutuila in American Samoa served at Gallipoli.

Individuals Francis and Basley LegerFrancis and Basley Leger (
Brothers Francis (left) and Basley (right) Leger from Tonga joined Niueans and Cook Islanders in the 3rd Maori Reinforcements in 1915. They served in Egypt and France.

george-tuaineGeorge Tuaine (
Also known as Tuainekara Tinirau Tamatoa. George Tuaine came from Aitutaki Island in the Cook Islands and served at Gallipoli and in Egypt.

See also Were there Pacific Islanders at Gallipoli in 1915? (
Note the third paragraph.

Conditions faced by Pacific Islanders Difficulties faced by Pacific Islanders (
Apart from the fact many did not speak or understand English (which made following instructions or explaining symptoms of an injury or illness very difficult), many Pacific Islanders faced a range of problems away from their island homes:
- they were not used to wearing boots
- their communities had not built up an immunity to European diseases
- they were completely unused to cold climates.

Impact of WW1 on Pacific Islanders Pacific aftermath (
When Pacific Islanders returned home after World War 1 they expected to be treated as fairly and equally as they had been treated in the NZEF (New Zealand Expeditionary Force).
Political, social and economic impact (
Although the Pacific Islanders had learned English and acquired leadership skills as soldiers there were few employment opportunities for them when they returned home. Many moved to New Zealand or Western Samoa.
Note the links to other pages at the bottom of the page.

Were there Pacific Islanders at Gallipoli in 1915? (
In this blog, note the paragraph commencing with the words "The First World War was a turning point for Pacific Islanders..." The writer makes the point that successfully serving on the world stage in the armed forces had made Pacific Islanders aware of opportunities that they previously did not know existed.


Anzac Kids


Anzac Day - island policies Anzac Day in the Pacific (

The Cook Islands and Niue provided soldiers for the New Zealand Expeditionary Force in World War 1. The Cook Islands commenced holding Anzac Day commemorations in the 1920s but Niue did not commemorate Anzac Day until after World War 2.

Samoa was controlled by the Germans until the First World War  began but later became a New Zealand mandated territory, with Anzac Day being commemorated from the 1920s.

Tonga also commemorated Anzac Day.

Fiji focused its commemorations on Armistice Day because it was more formally linked to the United Kingdom during World War 1.

Note the links to pages 2, 3, 4 and 5 at the bottom of page 1

Anzac Day reports On Anzac Day, Pacific countries reflect on their role in war ( 25 April 2015
Description of Anzac Day commemorations at Samoa, Tonga Papua New Guinea, and the Cook Islands (planned commemorations).

Anzac Day 2015: Commemorations highlight Pacific's 'overlooked' role inWorld War One ( 25 Apr 2015

Cook Island and Niue soldiers (Image: Sir George Grey collection)Pacific Islanders urged to remember their Anzac tradition ( 25 Apr 2013
The role that volunteer soldiers from the Cook Islands and Niue played in the Gallipoli campaign, and their losses, must always be remembered, the Cook Islands Returned Services Association says.

Anzac Day: Pacific Islanders' contributions not forgotten ( 24 Apr 2013
This story reminds us of the World War 1 contributions of the soldiers from Niue, but draws attention to the strong anti-conscription feelings that divided the community at the time.

News Ocean waves washing Anzacs' headstones away ( 22 Apr 2018
World War 1 soldiers' graves on the Cook Islands are in danger of being washed away. However, efforts are being made to restore and protect them.
See also Pacific Anzacs' graves saved from ocean waves in Cook Islands ( 23 Apr 2018
Book lists First World War - Pacifica involvement (
List of book suggestions from the Christchurch City Library on Pacific Islanders and the First World War.

More resources Teaching resources: Pacific Islander involvement in WW1 (
Books and other information sources on Pacific Islander involvement in the First World War.
(Acknowledgment: We have made use of the Christchurch City Library's list in selecting links for this page.)

MORE... See also:


Maori in WW1

Maori women in WW1

New Zealand women in WW1

New Zealand women in WW1: profiles

New Zealand women and Gallipoli






To Anzac Day Websites main page


Please see our Privacy statement.

To Anzac Day Websites main page