High-Mg, low-Ti volcanic rocks from the Manihiki Plateau in the Western Pacific share many geochemical characteristics with subduction-related boninites such as high-Ca boninites from the Troodos ophiolite on Cyprus, which are believed to originate by hydrous re-melting of previously depleted mantle. In this paper we compare the Manihiki rocks and Troodos boninites using a new dataset on the major and trace element composition of whole rocks and glasses from these locations, and new high-precision, electron microprobe analyses of olivine and Cr-spinel in these rocks. Our results show that both low-Ti Manihiki rocks and Troodos boninites could originate by re-melting of a previously depleted lherzolite mantle source (20–25% of total melting with 8–10% melting during the first stage), as indicated by strong depletion of magmas in more to less incompatible elements (Sm/Yb < 0.8, Zr/Y < 2, Ti/V < 12) and high-Cr-spinel compositions (Cr# > 0.5). In comparison with Troodos boninites, the low-Ti Manihiki magmas had distinctively lower H2O contents (< 0.2 vs. > 2 wt% in boninites), ~ 100 °C higher liquidus temperatures at a given olivine Fo-number, lower fO2 (ΔQFM < + 0.2 vs. ΔQFM > + 0.2) and originated from deeper and hotter mantle (1.4–1.7 GPa, ~ 1440 °C vs. 0.8–1.0 GPa, ~ 1300 °C for Troodos boninites). The data provide new evidence that re-melting of residual upper mantle is not only restricted to subduction zones, where it occurs under hydrous conditions, but can also take place due to interaction of previously depleted upper mantle with mantle plumes from the deep and hotter Earth interior.