Tag Archives: Kiribati

Kiribati’s Golden Boy calls for “Save Our Country”

Kiribati’s 2014 Commonwealth Games Gold medallist – dubbed ‘Golden Boy’ has called to the world to help save his disappearing island country.

“Every day my people fear for their lives as their homes are lost to the rising sea levels,” David Katoatau said in a climate campaign he launched last month.

He added that “we live on an atoll with nothing but flat land and ocean surrounding us. We have nowhere to climb and nowhere to run.”

Flat Atoll copy

Aerial view of Tarawa atoll in Kiribati. No mountains or higher grounds means sea-level rise is a daily threat to the 110,00 people of Kiribati.

The 31-year old professional weightlifter has represented Kiribati in many international championship games including the 2008 and 2009 Olympic Games but perhaps the highlight of his 11-year sporting career was at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games last year where he lifted the 105kg record Gold Medal with New Zealand and England snatching Silver and Bronze after him.

Read more: David Katoatau claims first ever Kiribati medal

Last July at the Pacific Games in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea he furthered his glory with another Gold medal dedicated to his 110,000 fans back home in Kiribati. The New Caledonia-based sportsman is still aiming for gold at next year’s Olympic Games in Rio.

Inspired by many and many young kids back home, David Katoatau – in his own might and right – will become an ambassador for climate change seeking support from the world so that the kids back home will also have a chance to fulfil their dreams without fear of losing their homes.

Join his call- if you care, and share his message to the world!

Read more: Kiribati Gold medallist David Katoatau sings

2015 Forum Communique

An official report of the recent 46th Pacific Islands Forum Leaders’ meeting, more commonly known as the Forum Communique was released two weeks ago Thursday, 10 September 2015, in the Papua New Guinean capital of Port Moresby.

The Leaders in their Retreat deliberated on issues concerning the Pacific region which included Australia and New Zealand.

A total of twenty agendas covering various areas and issues were discussed in the retreat out of which two declarations were born, focusing on Climate Change and Strengthening Connections to Enhance Pacific Regionalism.

Read more: Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Declaration on Climate Change Action
Read more: The Hiri Declaration – Strengthening Connections to Enhance Pacific Regionalism

The Smaller Islands States Leaders Meeting held ahead of the Leaders Retreat also saw the birth of the SIS Leaders’ Port Moresby Declaration on Climate Change which strongly calls for a 1.5 degrees Celsius agreement for Paris .

Read the SIS Leaders Port Moresby Declaration on Climate Change

In total, the agendas include:
i. Framework for Pacific Regionalism
ii. Fisheries
iii. Climate Change
iv. Information Communications Technologies (ICT)
v. Cervical Cancer
vi. West Papua
vii. Hiri Declaration
viii. Regional Governance and Financing
ix. Forum Foreign Ministers
x. Ministerial Meetings
xi. French Polynesia
xii. Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands
xiii. Radioactive Contaminants in the Republic of the Marshall Islands
xiv. Strengthening the Post-Forum Dialogue
xv. Pacer Plus
xvi. Post-2015 Development Agenda/Sustainable Development Goals
xvii. Implementation of the Forum Compact
xviii. Pacific Leaders Gender Equality Declaration (2012)
xix. Smaller Island States Leaders Meeting
xx. Civil Society Organization Dialogue

Leaders also endorsed that the 47th Pacific Islands Forum meeting in 2016 will be held in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM). Samoa, Nauru and Tuvalu will host the 2017, 2018 and 2019 forum meetings respectively.

2015 Forum Communique – download here

Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Declaration on Climate Change

Hiri Declaration: “Strengthening Connections to Enhance Pacific Regionalism”

President Tong bows out of Forum with ‘Star of Melanesia’


President Anote Tong has bowed-out of the Pacific Islands Forum, in what is deemed his last forum meeting as President of tiny Pacific Island nation of Kiribati, with an honorary award called the ‘Companion of the Order of the Star of Melanesia’ (CSM) and $5 million PNG-Kina (AUD$2.5 million) to aid efforts in combating climate change impacts to his low-lying atoll nation.

President Tong who is now in his final months of his 12-year term in office received the honorary award – ‘Star of Melanesia’ last Thursday from Papua New Guinea’s Acting Governor General and Speaker of Parliament Theodore Zurenuoc. The high-level occasion was witnessed by leaders of the Pacific Islands Forum who were in Port Moresby for the 46th Leaders Forum.

The Companion of the Star of Melanesia is awarded for distinguished service of a high degree to Papua New Guinea and Melanesia, sustained over a period of fifteen years.

A statement from the PNG government say the award is bestowed on Tong for his services to the Pacific region and strong bilateral relations with the region and PNG.

Tong was humbled with such recognition saying he was truly honoured to receive such a symbolic award which he says inspires him further that the Pacific is in good stewardship as long as the spirit of brotherhood and the Pacific Way continue to prevail.

Although Kiribati is not a member of the Melanesian grouping, Tong has in the past been invited by the Melanesian Spearhead Group where his thoughts and contributions on contentious issues were consulted.

The president who returns today from the recently concluded 46th Pacific Islands forum meeting in Port Moresby brings with him a $5 million cheque (PNG-Kina) that will go towards Kiribati’s ongoing efforts to combat climate change impacts.

Tong will leave office early next year and will walk away with a number of awards and recognitions under his belt. This year alone, Tong was presented with the Doctor of Laws from the University of the South Pacific and the Sunhak Peace Prize.

The Premier of Niue, Toke Talagi, also received the Star of Melanesia award while Prime Minister of Samoa, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, received the Grand Companion of the Order of Logohu (GCL) in recognition of his long service to the region as one of the longest serving Prime Minister.


Previous recipients of The Companion of the Star of Melanesia includes Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence, KCVO, CB (Husband of the Princess Royal – The Princess Anne) and Camilla the Duchess of Cornwall (Wife of Prince of Wales – Prince Charles).

Kiribati on Tsunami Alert – low risk expected

An 8.3 magnitude earthquake hitting the central zone of Chile has generated a tsunami alert for the North and South American Pacific coasts as well as Pacific Island countries including Kiribati.

A statement from the Office of the President has confirmed that the alert for Kiribati is in effect but the risks will be minimal given the projected timings of impact will coincide with low tide.

The Kiribati Meteorological Service (KMS) reports the tsunami will generate waves between 0.3 to 1 metre above sea level however, the impact time will coincide with low tide (0036hrs – 0638hrs) and hence minimal impact is anticipated. The projected timings of impact are as follows:

Kiritimati 1231hrs (UTC)
Kanton    1342hrs (UTC)
Tarawa    1556hrs (UTC)

KMS added that while tsunami impact is categorized low risk, mariners and people along the coasts are urged to take precautionary measures.

Meanwhile,  a nation-wide radio announcement was aired noon today for the public’s information.

READ MORE: Chile earthquake: Five dead, million evacuated as tsunami hits central coastline after quake

Get your copy: 2015 Kiribati Tide Calendar

President Tong questions moral values of Australian leaders

President Anote Tong has questioned the moral values of Australian Immigration Minister Peter Dutton and his colleague Prime Minister Tony Abbott over the joke made by Dutton about Pacific Island countries and their struggle with the rising sea levels.

Tong criticized the two Australian politicians over their insensitive joke about Pacific Islanders having no sense of time because “water is lapping at their door”. The remark made by Dutton was enjoyed by Abbott recklessly laughing unaware that a camera with a boom microphone was rolling above their heads.

“It shows a sense of moral irresponsibility quite unbecoming of leadership in any capacity,” President Tong said in an interview with ABC just minutes after touching down in Fiji, on his way back home from Papua New Guinea.

More saddened than outraged, Tong added “this is the issue we were talking about yesterday,” referring to the recently concluded talks in Port Moresby where climate change was effectively watered down by Australia (and New Zealand).

“I find that extremely sad, extremely disappointing that we are making jokes about a very serious issue,” he said.

Eastern tip of Temaiku village grapple with the encroaching seas

Eastern tip of Temaiku village on Tarawa atoll continues to grapple with the encroaching seas

Read more: Kiribati’s President lashes Peter Dutton for sea-levels joke

The video of Minister Dutton making the joke with Prime Minister Abbott laughing along had gone viral over the web and has created an outrage by many including several Pacific Island leaders.

Marshall Island’s Foreign Minister, Tony de Brum voiced his dismay over Twitter about the Australian Ministers joking about sea level rise in the Pacific: “Next time waves are battering my home and my grandkids are scared, I’ll ask Peter Dutton to come over, and we’ll see if he is still laughing.”

Also on Twitter, the Governor of Papua New Guinea province of Oro expressed his disappointment at Prime Minister Abbott laughing along to the joke: “ABBOTT MUST APOLOGIZE FOR INSENSITIVITY TOWARDS ALL FOR LAUGHING AT CLIMATE CHANGE. Remove him next elections Australia, you deserve better.”

Meanwhile, climate group 350.org had written a letter to Prime Minister Abbott expressing their disappointment to the way Australia is treating an issue which concerns the life of Pacific islanders. They also demanded that Immigration Minister Dutton step down from office after the disgraceful joke he made on Friday morning.

Pacific Island Countries mainly the Small Island Developing States such as Kiribati, Marshall Islands and Tuvalu have been struggling for more than a decade to cope with the impacts of sea-level rise caused by climate change. The impacts include inundation of villages, sea-water intrusion to their source of drinking water and the inability to grow food crops to name but a few.

Read more: Pacific leaders respond to Australian Minister’s sea level remarks.

People’s life in the Pacific is a big laughing joke: Australian Minister of Immigration and Prime Minister Tony Abbott

The Betio Maternity Ward in Kiribati's capital is under threat from the March 2015 spring tide

The Betio Maternity Ward on Tarawa atoll – Kiribati’s capital is under threat from the March 2015 spring tide

While climate change is an issue that concerns the life and very existence of people in the Pacific Island nations, it is somehow a big laughing joke according to Australian Minister of Immigration Peter Dutton and Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

Climate Change was a top agenda for Pacific Island leaders at the recently concluded 46th Pacific Islands Forum meeting in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea where Abbott also joined.

The agenda, as anticipated, was greatly watered down by the Pacific’s very own ‘bigger brothers’ Australia and New Zealand resulting in a failure for the Pacific grouping to reach a strong and unified declaration to take to Paris.

And in only less than 24 hours after the forum, Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott upon returning to Canberra, laughed recklessly at a joke made by his fellow Immigration Minister Peter Dutton on the plight of Pacific Island people on climate change.

Ironically and oblivious to it, a camera with a boom microphone had captured the whole conversation which included the insensitive joke – which in essence, is a big slap to the faces of Pacific Island leaders who passionately pleaded for a declaration that will help save their people from the impacts of climate change at the recent forum meeting.

Watch video here: PM Abbott laughing recklessly at a joke made by fellow Immigration Minister Peter Dutton on the plight of Pacific Islanders on climate change

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The Betio Hospital was hit hard during the March 2015 Spring Tide causing it to be temporarily relocated to the Betio Sports Complex. The hospital has since resumed normal operations after the coastal area was fortified by slabs of concrete sea-walls

Selling bananas on a busy morning

Bananas for sale in climate change struck Kiribati


Emaa Kiribi, 53, enjoys her everyday selling fresh bananas: Photo by Kantaake Corbett, KAPIII.

Emaa Kiribi, 53, enjoys her everyday selling fresh bananas: Photo by Kantaake Corbett, KAPIII.

Meet a mother of four children from the island of Butaritari the second Northern Island in Kiribati who is a passionate banana sale’s woman by the name of Emaa Kiribi, 53 years old.

Emaa knows almost all the faces of the regulars who walk the capital street of Bairiki and who are kind enough to buy just one banana to keep them healthy and to give her, an income.

Earning almost $20 a day, the woman is able to save up just enough for her youngest daughter Telafue Teretia, 14 years old who attends form one in Butaritari Junior Secondary School. She started supporting her children alone in 2009 after her husband Teretia from Makin and Butaritari passed away. The husband worked for the Kiribati Shipping Agency from 1999 to 2004 and then became a regular fisherman from Betio until his passing.

A devout catholic who grew up in other churches such as KPC and Baha’I, Emaa believes people are all the same and that people have the right to choose which church to attend because they are all true.

The couple joined the Latter Day Saints (LDS) in 2007 almost the same time she took up the job selling fresh yummy bananas.

“Bananas have grown well in the garden Island of Butaritari because it is in the North, and therefore rains a lot and we know bananas love to grow in both hot and wet conditions. Cultivating and managing bananas is highly supported by MELAD because it is a healthy fruit for the people and now, another means of income to a lot of families.” Takena Redfern, Senior Agriculture Officer (SAO), Ministry of Environment, Lands and Agricultural Development (MELAD), Agriculture and Livestock Division.

Climate resilient crops such as cassava, Kumara and Taro have also been introduced in Butaritari as well as other Islands in Kiribati to help the people in Kiribati adapt to climate change and because it grows well in Butaritari, a market of exporting from Butaritari to Tarawa is possible to help other islands and mainly the capital Tarawa where almost half the population of Kiribati now reside.

When asked if she wanted to migrate due to sea level rise to bigger countries like New Zealand and Australia through the Pacific Access Category (PAC), Emaa kindly said she would rather live in Kiribati for the rest of her dear life. Emaa is afraid of the Tsunami stories that she’s heard and believes it is safer here because of the big ocean.

Having only completed class nine back in the days, Emaa’s only wish for her youngest daughter when asked if she wanted her daughter to live abroad was that – she would rather see her youngest daughter serve her mission and then decide for herself.

Kiribati people want to migrate with dignity.

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Sea wall in the village of Eita on the island of Tarawa. Photo: Justin McManus, The Age

Small islands’ commitment towards climate change

Sea wall in the village of Eita on the island of Tarawa. Photo: Justin McManus, The Age

Sea wall in the village of Eita on the island of Tarawa. Photo: Justin McManus, The Age

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today (2 April 2014) praised the commitment by small islands in the Pacific to low-carbon development and urged them to continue their ambitious efforts to combat climate change and spur other nations to come to a binding agreement on this issue next year, UN News Centre, Reports.

“Because you are on the front lines, you know that we are at a pivotal moment and that more needs to be done. You know that the world’s appetite for energy continues to grow, and the global thermostat continues to rise,” Mr. Ban said in his message to the Pacific launch of the UN Decade of Sustainable Energy for All, which took place in Fiji.

While Mr. Ban noted that small island nations face special challenges, such as rising sea levels, restricted markets and high energy prices due to their remote location, he also highlighted successful initiatives that are helping these countries achieve sustainable development.

“The Pacific Islands are demonstrating real global leadership in our shared efforts to make a much-needed transition to a new era in energy use and production,” he said. “Tokelau has become the first territory in the world to generate 100 per cent of its power from renewable energy, while our host, the government of Fiji, is demonstrating its commitment to support sustainable energy for all through concrete actions. These and other efforts are helping to point the way to a sustainable future.”

The period from 2014 to 2024 has been declared by the UN General Assembly as the Decade for Sustainable Energy for All and two years ago, Mr. Ban launched his Sustainable Energy for All initiative, which seeks to achieve three inter-linked goals by 2030: universal access to modern energy, doubling energy efficiency, and doubling the share of renewable energy, thus providing services such as lighting, clean cooking and mechanical power in developing countries, as well as improved energy efficiency, especially in the world’s highest-energy consuming countries.

Read the full story on UN News Centre
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Kiribati and Fiji Presidents and the First Ladies at the State House Mwaneaba

Fiji Supports Kiribati On Sea Level Rise

HE Ratu Epeli Nailatikau delivers his speech during the State House Function in Tarawa, Kiribati

HE Ratu Epeli Nailatikau delivers his speech during the State House Function in Tarawa, Kiribati

Press Release SUVA, Fiji, 11 February 2014

Fiji will ensure that the people of Kiribati have a home if their country is submerged by the rising sea level as a result of climate change, said the President of the Republic of Fiji, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau.

The president made the announcement during his state visit to Kiribati this week, confirming the suggestion made recently by Fiji’s Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama, that Fiji would assist Kiribati in any way it could.

If the sea level continues to rise at its current rate, Kiribati, a nation of low lying atolls, faces the likelihood of complete submersion by the end of the century if not sooner, threatening the country’s very existence.

Kiribati has already purchased 6,000 acres of land on Fiji’s second biggest island, Vanua Levu, to ensure its food security as the sea encroaches on its arable land.

Speaking at a state dinner hosted by Kiribati President Anote Tong on Tuesday, the Fijian president announced that some or all of the people of Kiribati would be able to migrate to Fiji with dignity if the need arose.

“Fiji will not turn its back on our  neighbors in their hour of need,” he said. “I want to assure you all that Fiji will stand shoulder to shoulder with you as you  face this crisis, as well as in doing everything possible to try to avert it. In  a worst case scenario and if all else fails, you will not be refugees.”

Such a migration is not without precedent. Fiji has previously accepted the Banaban people when  they were forced to leave Ocean Island – one of Kiribati’s thirty-three islands – because of the  pressure of phosphate mining there.

“These people now live in Fiji but have  their own seat in the parliament of Kiribati and if necessary, we will do it again,” the president said.

“The spirit of the people of Kiribati will  not be extinguished. It will live on somewhere else because a nation isn’t only  a physical place. A nation – and the sense of belonging that comes with it –  exists in the hearts and the minds of its citizens wherever they may be,” he  said.

The president added that Fiji is  especially keen to lead and assist the Pacific region’s effort to persuade the  rest of the world to finally take decisive action on climate change.

“It is simply not acceptable for the world to stand by and watch the republic  of Kiribati – a sovereign nation and a member  of the United Nations – sink slowly beneath the waves,” the President said on  Tuesday.

He said that Fiji is using every possible  means at the United Nations and in its agencies to draw attention to the plight  Pacific island nations face and the selfishness of the big carbon polluters in  putting their interests above all else.

He added that the issue of climate change matters not just to the people of  Kiribati, but to every Pacific Islander.

“For example, in Fiji, we have already had  to move one village altogether out of the way of the rising sea, and a  second will soon be relocated, and a further 676 communities throughout the  nation are threatened in some way” he said.

Read more:  http://www.digitaljournal.com/pr/1732761#ixzz2toRgdI9D
Also read: Fiji President visits Kiribati, Fiji will not turn its back on Kiribati,
government land purchase within grasp

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Fiji President, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau inspects the guard of honor

Fiji President Visits Kiribati

Fiji President, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau inspects the guard of honor

Fiji President, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau inspects the guard of honor

The President of Fiji, His Excellency Ratu Epeli Nailatikau was given a full guard of honor and a traditional welcome ceremony at Eita Mwaneaba when he arrived on Sunday last week. The president, first lady Adi Koila Nailatikau and delegation were greeted by the Minister for Education, Maere Tekanene, Kiribati High Commissioner to Fiji, Retata Rimon and Officer in Charge for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration, Akka Rimon.

Unimwane Katangaua of Etia Village presented Ratu Epeli with their community’s symbol of good fortune and wished him peace, love and prosperity.

During the traditional welcoming in Eita the President thanked Cabinet Ministers, Elders and members of the Tarawa community for their hospitality and warm welcome.

He said the two countries are linked intricately and there are parts of Fiji that are there and parts of Kiribati that are in Fiji and they are very much alive and built on the relationship that both countries now have.

On his tour in Kiribati, the President visited the Fiji Community, the Marine Training Centre (MTC), Kiribati Fish Limited (KFL) and also went fishing with the Kiribati President, Anote Tong.

On a separate schedule, First Lady Adi Koila visited the Special School for the Disable and the Kiribati Family Health Association (KHFA).

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