On the night of 6 August 1914 – 48 hours after Britain’s entry into World War I – the Governor-General of New Zealand received a secret cable from Britain, part of which read:
“If your Ministers desire, and feel themselves able to seize German wireless station at Samoa, we should feel that this was a great and urgent Imperial service…”
A radio transmitter located in the hills above Apia was capable of sending long-range Morse signals to Berlin. It could also communicate with Germany’s large naval fleet (over 90 warships). Great Britain wanted this threat neutralised and so New Zealand pledged their support the day after the despatch.
Very quickly a force 1,382 strong was mobilised and the ships landed at Apia on 29 August, complete with a regimental band. Without any resistance they took the inland wireless station and settled into life as an occupying garrison.