29 Oct 2002

New World War Two memorial nears completion in Kiribati

11:31 am on 29 October 2002

A modernised war memorial in Kiribati will for the first time acknowledge the deaths of hundreds of I-Kiribati killed during World War Two.

The memorial at Tarawa records the murder of 22 Commonwealth coast watchers, including 17 New Zealanders, by the Japanese, in October 1942.

It is to be rededicated on November 11th.

The New Zealand High Commissioner to Kiribati, Neil Robertson, says the steel slab memorial will incorporate the elements of the old concrete structure, along with a new inscription marking the sacrifice made by I-Kiribati.

"That is something that until now, there's been no memorial, no record of their own sacrifice, losses and deaths during World War Two."

Neil Robertson says more than seven I-Kiribati were killed or died of starvation during the Japanese occupation.

Most of the cost of modernising the memorial has been met by the Australian government, with contributions from New Zealand and Britain.