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The first documentary evidence that offered strong support for the Niku hypothesis was the Tarawa bones file found in the summer of 1997. Historical researcher and TIGHAR member Peter McQuarrie discovered a file of papers in the National Archives of the Republic of Kiribati on Tarawa Atoll pertaining to the discovery of bones on Nikumaroro. The file contained copies of wireless traffic between Gallagher on Nikumaroro and various officials on Ocean Island, on Tarawa, and in Fiji. It turned out to be a incomplete duplicate of the material in the WPCH bones file.

In 2001, Ric Gillespie and Van Hunn revisited Tarawa to investigate various leads developed from the Tarawa bones file.