In attendance were Queen’s Representative Sir Tom Marsters, PM Mark Brown, Australian high commissioner Christopher Watkins and NZ high commissioner Tui Dewes. (All photos: Losirene Lacanivalu) 20111111.
Local war veterans were remembered at the 102nd Armistice Day commemoration in Rarotonga on Wednesday November 11 - the day when an armistice was signed to end the Great War.
his maiden visit to Mangaia a fortnight ago, Australian High Commissioner
Christopher Watkins and his partner Penelope Witt paused at the cenotaph and
read the names of all those who fought and fell during the wars.
commissioner also had the opportunity to spend some time with two war veterans
he met on the southern group island.
he shared their stories during the 102nd Armistice Day commemoration held at
the Cook Islands Returned Services Association Memorial Cemetery in Nikao.
Australian High Commissioner Christopher Watkins delivering his speech at the event. 20111113
Teremoana served in the Australian Army in the 1128 Battalion of Western
Australia for eight years, completing tours in East Timor defending the
interests of a fledgling nation, and worked to keep the peace.
served twice in Iraq, and Afghanistan, before deciding to return, to what
Teremoana described: “to a peaceful island floating in the Pacific. Paradise
under the sun.”
veteran Taoi Nooroa served in the Australian Army in the Northern Territory
with Norforce, an elite force of soldiers, many of whom were indigenous
trained to survive in the outback and work across remote terrain.
said: “He is today, as tourism officer, facing an invasion of tourists into
Mangaia, as the southern group special flight lands in Oneroa.”
two men are passionate Cook Islanders. But they are also Australian citizens,
who have served Australia with distinction.”
said Armistice Day was not just a historic alliance but a living tradition of
shared service – a living tradition of fighting for shared values.
Queens Representative Sir Tom Marsters at the event. 20111116
yesterday marked the date on which an armistice was signed to end the Great
War, for the Cook Islands, New Zealand and Australia, their shared history in
war does not end there, he said.
World War Two, in Vietnam and Iraq and Afghanistan, and in peacekeeping efforts
in Timor and regional assistance missions in Solomon Islands and elsewhere,
Cook Islanders have served bravely and with distinction, as soldiers and as
police officers, alongside New Zealand and Australian military and police, a
tradition which continues to this day,” Watkins said.
founding member of the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands, Cook
Islanders worked alongside security forces from across the Pacific, including
of course the Australian Federal Police, in delivering security and stability
to the people of Solomon Islands.
a hard-won peace which has held to this day. As we look to avoid future
conflicts in our region, that cooperation stands as a model of how we in the
Pacific family can assist our neighbours in times of need.”
acknowledged sons and daughters and families of Cook Islands who fought
alongside Australian and New Zealand soldiers in Sinai, and in all the
conflicts, and missions since.
Lt Commodore Mark Tekani with New Zealand High Commissioner Tui Dewes and Aotearoa Society’s Derek Fox. 20111112
paying tribute to those affected by diseases in the service of their country,
Watkins acknowledged the sacrifice of Willie Ruka – a young private from Cook
Islands who was buried on January 28, 1917 – two days after Australia Day, in
the Rookwood Necropolis Cemetery in Sydney.
acknowledged Australian Cate Walker’s work restoring war graves in Rarotonga.
Watkins promised that on his return to Australia, he would visit late Ruka’s
grave and lay a wreath in recognition of his sacrifice.
Wichman, the president of the Returned Services Association, said yesterday’s
event was held in remembrance of servicemen from World War I and II, especially
Pacific islanders who served in the Australian and New Zealand forces.
also welcomed the Australian high commissioner’s message saying it was felt by
many in attendance.
Minister Mark Brown, who attended the event, said the date was engraved in
history as the day the ‘Great War’ – World War 1 – came to an end.
‘war to end all wars’ as it was often called, resulted in an estimated
38-million casualties – military and civilians – around the world. Over
100-thousand New Zealanders – soldiers and nurses – served in the Great War
with 16,697 of them killed, and 41,317 wounded. The New Zealand forces included
soldiers from the Cook Islands, Niue, and Samoa. Worth noting that New
Zealand’s population at the time was just over a million.
ever wins out of a war, because even when you think you’ve won you haven’t,
along the way lives, often many many lives will have been lost.
Islanders have served in both of the world wars. When World War One broke out
some of our men wanted to do their bit and they went off to New Zealand to sign
up. They did it again in World War Two and often ended up in the 28th Battalion
– the Maori Battalion.”
Retired Warrant Officer Kevin Greaves with Staff sergeant (retired) Sam Puati Samuel at the 102nd Armistice Day commemoration. 20111110
Cook Islanders who went away served in the army though, Brown said.
my grand uncles – my grandfather’s youngest brother Alexander Brown, left
Mangaia as a teenager and headed off to New Zealand to school. When the war
broke out, he checked out of school and signed up for the air force and was
sent to Canada where he underwent his training before taking part in bombing
missions over Germany. He was an air gunner.
he was one of the 20,000 air crew who lost their lives in the air war in
today, while we are thinking of the end of World War 1 and paying tribute to
all those who lost their lives serving in those early conflicts, I will also be
thinking about my uncle Alex who I never knew. And with his tragic loss my
family and I have almost certainly lost other uncles and aunties and cousins he
may have provided our family with.
rest in peace uncle Alex, we haven’t forgotten you and all your mates and our
other relatives who served in both World Wars, whether out of a sense of duty
or just for the adventure as it was to so many of you.”