Names of Cook Islands war dead inscribed in history

Monday February 17, 2020 Written by Published in Local
 Restoring the grave of Private Terongo Tuakeo, rediscovered on Atiu. They gave their lives – but 100 years on, their sacrifice had been forgotten. 19101713 Restoring the grave of Private Terongo Tuakeo, rediscovered on Atiu. They gave their lives – but 100 years on, their sacrifice had been forgotten. 19101713

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission has accepted the New Zealand Defence Force’s recommendation to add the names of six Cook Islands army privates to their records.

 

The names of Privates Nga Naeiti, Taria Tearii, Rangi Tiaure, Mareto Tima, Banaba Tipe and Terongo Tuakeo are now searchable on the Commonwealth War Graves website

They are listed alongside the 1.7 million men and women of the Commonwealth who died in the First and Second World Wars.   

And their names will be read out as part of the National Anzac Day commemoration at Pukeahu National War Memorial Park in Wellington, New Zealand, on April 25, this year in recognition of their service and sacrifice. 

On that day, their names will be formally inscribed on the physical Roll of Honour that is housed in the National War Memorial.

It comes after the New Zealand Chief of Defence accepted that their deaths in the immediate aftermath of World War I were caused by tuberculosis contracted during their war service. 

They all returned home to Cook Islands, where they died of the disease and for years, their graves were lost and forgotten.

New Zealand’s Manatū Taonga, the Ministry for Culture and Heritage, is now undertaking research to identify any living relatives of the six men and also the landowners of each grave site. 

Researchers led by Paula Paniani, Cate Walker and Bobby Nicholas have found graves where the men are believed to be buried on Atiu, Aitutaki, and on Rarotonga at Titikaveka, Matavera and in the Nikao returned services cemetery.

Te Pae Mahara manager Brodie Stubbs said New Zealand’s Manatū Taonga was now seeking the permission of landowners and relatives, to arrange to visit each gravesite to assess their condition, arrange for any immediate repairs and also make plans for their long-term care.

“The Ministry is honoured to care for the graves of these men in perpetuity,” Stubbs said. 

“We would very much like to hear from any relatives of these men. We would like to be able to involve them in the planning for the care of the men’s graves but we would also like to learn more about their loved one.

“We’re grateful to have the assistance of the Cook Islands WW1 NZEF ANZAC Soldiers Research project team in trying to make contact with family members of the six soldiers.”

·         If anyone has a connection to any of these individuals, they are encouraged to email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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