October 2015 marks 100 years since a group of Niuean men left to serve in the First World War. New Zealand Post is issuing stamps on behalf of Niue that look closer at their contribution.
Though Niue’s population was small, they volunteered for service for the First World War in the New Zealand Expeditionary Forces as soon as word of the war reached their shores in September 1914. Initially New Zealand rejected their offer, but it was reconsidered when the numbers of the Maori Contingent were severely affected during the Gallipoli campaign. In October 1915 150 men left Niue for Auckland, where they trained at Narrow Neck Camp before departing for the Western Front.
Sadly, despite the best of intentions, the Niuean contribution encountered many difficulties, including struggling with the standard issue footwear, the cold climate and a lack of immunity to European diseases. By the end of May 1916, 80 per cent of the men had been hospitalised, and so they were withdrawn from the Western Front and transferred to the New Zealand convalescent hospital in Hornchurch, England. They returned to Auckland for further medical care before being sent home by late 1916. Even with all the hardships they faced, they still volunteered for duty once more, but the offer was declined. Their story of heartache is told in-depth in the presentation pack by Margaret Pointer, author of Tagi Tote e Loto Haaku: My Heart is Crying a Little, Niue Island involvement in the Great War and Niue 1774-1974: 200 years of Contact and Change.
The story of Niue’s involvement in the First World War is told in this special eight-stamp issue issued on behalf of Niue by New Zealand Post. New Zealand Post has been issuing stamps on behalf of Niue since 2011.
Please note that these stamps are not valid for postage in New Zealand.