The research team at work in Mauke. SUPPLIED/22112124
The burial sites of up to 23 Cook Islands World War I soldiers on the island of Mauke have been identified.
successful mission was accomplished by the WWI Research Project team who
recently completed their five-day search on the Southern Group island.
team was led by Paula Paniani, the chief archivist at the National Archives of
the Cook Islands, Australian cemetery and grave conservator Cate Walker and her
husband Paul Morrissey, along with local television reporter and documentary
producer Julie Taripo Shedden.
said the Mauke community had been waiting patiently for their visit since their
April 2020 research trip was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
said the team arrived on Mauke on Monday, November 14, and were warmly welcomed
at the airport by Mauke’s executive officer Royston Jones, Mauke Island Administration
secretary Martina Vaeruarangi, Teau Ariki and Mama Pi of Ri’s Retreat.
assigned Vaeruarangi as their tour guide as she had already located the burial
sites of many of the soldiers the team were searching for.
the end of day two, Walker said 20 out of a possible 23 WWI soldiers’ graves
and headstones were documented and tagged with GPS tracking system.
fantastic result achieved within 24 hours of the team’s arrival in Mauke. Over
the following two days, the lettering to seven Cook Islands WWI soldiers’
granite headstones, and four private granite headstones were restored,” Walker added.
experience has given the Mauke ‘A Team’ the skills needed to continue on with
this important preservation work into the future.”
Thursday morning (November 17), the team visited Mauke School informing
students, teachers and interested community members about their project and
their continuing efforts to preserve this important history for future
‘Mauke Soldier Search Mission’ has been very successful due to the incredible
help and involvement of the local community,” Walker added.
team acknowledged Air Rarotonga, Bank of the Cook Islands (BCI), Vodafone Cook
Islands, and Cook Islands Television News (CITV) who made their research trip
also thanked the Mauke community members Apii Teao, Teararoa and Eni Mani and
Aunty Nane Teokotai Vainepoto.
Taripo Shedden from CITV will produce a documentary series “Finding our way
back … to Mauke” early next year.
team is expected to visit Mangaia in April 2023.