War has played a defining role in shaping our nation since we first sent troops overseas to South Africa in 1899. As the centenary of the the First World War (2014-18) approaches, many New Zealanders will reflect on our nation's experiences of war and the impact of conflict on our society.
In the new millennium there has been increasing interest in the story of Pacific Island involvement in the First World War. In the Cook Islands there have been efforts to rebuild memorials and honour boards, while in Niue the local RSA has spearheaded a resurgence in interest in the country's military history
By the end of the Second World War military commemorations in the Cook Islands and Niue centered around Anzac Day. Services in both countries followed the pattern of those in New Zealand, with minor changes to fit local conditions
During the 1920s war memorials provided a focus for commemoration services in the Cook Islands, where the first Anzac Day service was possibly held in 1927. On Niue, Armistice celebrations focused on villages planting ‘peace groves’ of coconuts and it was not until after the Second World War that a remembrance service on Anzac Day was established
Armistice Day was the initial focal point for commemorations in the Cook Islands and Niue after the First World War. But because men from both countries had served in the New Zealand Expeditionary Force, observances gradually shifted to Anzac Day in April
The red poppy has become a symbol of war remembrance the world over. In many countries it is worn around Armistice Day (11 November), but in New Zealand it is most commonly seen around Anzac Day, 25 April.