29 May 2012

US film launch about aftermath of Kiribari's Battle of Tarawa

12:40 pm on 29 May 2012

A film documenting the efforts of the US military to repatriate remains of soldiers from Kiribati is premiering in America today.

The US suffered heavy casualties in the Battle of Tarawa, which was one of the major Pacific battles of the Second World War.

The film, Until They Are Home, chronicles soldiers searching for remains on Betio atoll in 2010.

Its director, Steven Barber, says Pacific battlegrounds have been forgotten.

"We just went through there, so quickly and so methodically, there was just so much carnage, trying to get to Japan, that once it was over, we just pulled out stakes and left. I just think because it's so remote, it's so far away, where Europe is not, that we just didn't go back."

Steven Barber says he can't imagine moves to have more of a memorial at battle sites in Kiribati because of the distance from the US.

The remains of 17 New Zealanders are believed to have been found in Betio.

The New Zealand Defence Force is consulting on a plan for the remains, which is subject to approval.