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With effect from the 10th July 1999, it was decided at the Annual General
Meeting, held prior to the 20th I-Kiribati Independence celebration, that
the "Mwanean Kiribati Association (MKA)" is to become known as the "Kiribati
& Tuvalu Association (KTA)". Other than the change of name, the
association's aims and objectives and general activities remain unchanged.

20TH KIRIBATI INDEPENDENCE CELEBRATIONS

     

KTA CELEBRATION

Our big day this year was held on the 10th of July when we celebrated the 20th Anniversary of Kiribati Independence. This was held at the Gang Warily Recreation Centre in Fawley, Hampshire.

I will try to give you a brief account of this important event for the benefit of those who could not manage to attend. However, for those of you who came to share this special day with us, perhaps you would like to reflect on what happened during this wonderful weekend.

The members of the Kiribati & Tuvalu Association attended in force to celebrate the Kiribati 20th Independence with friends. We were blessed with the weather and many of our members camped from Friday night.

Patrick had transported the main shopping as well as the pig which Philomena had purchased on Thursday, so Philomena, Avira, Rakee and Teka were already busy from Thursday night, finalising the menu and ensuring that nothing is missed out.

FRIDAY

There were those who made garlands, those who helped with food preparation, Avira and Rakee and all our other members, especially those with young children, used the small bar area to finalise the children's dances. Most of the last minute preparations went on all Friday night.

It was midnight when I finally arrived at the Gang Warily Community Centre camping site. There were over 30 tents already erected, around the field. Some members booked in at nearby Bed & Breakfasts. Bob & Emily Bryden and Neil, Nafiata & their family from Ayr in Scotland were the first to arrive at the venue. We are most grateful to Bob and his helpers; Brian Williamson, Tebe Harding, Ronald Wainwright and Neil McNaughton. Bob was chief oven digger and together with Neil they had done most of the preparations required - gathering stones for lining the earth oven. Most of our members arrived in the evening so all the men present, took charge of cooking the pig. The fire was still ablaze when we arrived, so leaving our driver, Peter to catch up with his sleep in the tent, Dolores and I wandered off towards the blaze. There we found ourselves witnessing the roasting of the pig. The pig had already been beautifully parcelled up in tin foil and wrapped in a wire mesh.

As the blaze subsided, a sheet of corrugated iron was thrown in on top of the burning fire woods and burning stones. The parcel was carefully laid over and several covers were then thrown over followed by several pairs of hands, shovelling earth over the whole thing until there was no smoke escaping.

SATURDAY

Philomena, Emily & Teka, our chief chefs for the weekend and their helpers, Avira, Rakee, Terri, Buaua, Mandy, and many others including myself, all set to work. Most of the dishes were all ready but there were some more dishes left to be done at dawn. There was a lot of bustling going on with people coming and going, asking for this and that. Someone kept asking "What time is the AGM?" Nobody answered! We were all too busy - or should I say, in too much of a panic!.

I arrived at the Hall at eleven o'clock exactly and found most of the members had started to gather round. "We are late as usual!", I thought. It was half past eleven when we finally got everyone to sit down for the AGM. The acoustics in the hall was rather dreadful. The hall was so echoey that it sounded as though I was chewing up most of my words. I could not hear my own voice. I just hope that some of you understood what I was mumbling about. I only realised that a microphone was available afterwards so my apologies for that!. Anyway, at least we managed to achieve a few important proposals that we put to members. We have changed the name of the association from Mwanean Kiribati Association - (MKA), to "Kiribati and Tuvalu Association - (KTA)". The proposed three years service period on the committee but if those in office wish to remain in office, to put forward their names for re-election was discussed, and we also welcomed Mr Jeremy Fordham, as our Co-Trustee.

After the AGM, the real celebration began. Fr. Koru led us with our special grace when all the members formed a circle and sang "An nakomai, tai tataninga - (Come, Don't Wait)" followed by the blessing of the feast. And what a feast we had!. It was so wonderful to see so many people coming together in such a happy atmosphere.

Many thanks to the chefs, Emily, Philomena and Teka, and all their helpers for the tables were laden with the various delicious dishes. The pork was exceptionally well prepared and cooked so nicely with the home grown herbs kindly provided by Richard Turpin and onion dressings and various other seasonings from Teka. However we can only be thankful to all the men who took charge of its preparation.

Time for the toasts! Mr John Smith with a glass of champagne in hand gave a speech to commemorate the day. Our sincere thanks to Mr John Smith for his memorable speech. The toast, was followed by the Kiribati National Anthem and the cheer, and then, the dancing programme started.

Before nightfall, we moved onto the field for a very competitive "tug-o-war" and volleyball. I just do not know where Mrs Emma Waters gets her energy from! There was a disco in the evening to round off the day but some, if not the majority, disappeared upstairs to the bar which stayed open just for us!

SUNDAY MORNING

Some of us who stayed the night were woken by the sound of footsteps outside our tents. The KTA baker kindly delivered a loaf of bread to each tent. Thank you Nei Rakee and your helper, Ruby Turpin, Terema Wainwright and Helen White for that! Then at nine o'clock, we were all back again in the hall. This time it was for a different kind of bread - food for the soul. Father Koru conducted the Mass service for us, which was a very nice way to end the wonderful weekend.

CHAIRPERSON'S ADDRESS

Kam na bane ni mauri and talofa to you all!

First of all, I would like to thank you for electing me as your new chairperson. I will certainly do my best to work together with the new committee and together, we will try to maintain the momentum started by the outgoing committee. I hope we can achieve our aims in a democratic and open way so I welcome your comments at any time.

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NEW KTA EMBLEM

We are especially thankful to Mrs Rosemary Seligman (Grimble) for her most valuable
contribution to the KTA. Her beautiful drawing, which is most aptly
representative of our association's image and which is very much
appreciated, will be used as our new emblem.

On behalf of the new committee, I would like to thank all the members of the outgoing committee, Rotee and her team, Nei Agnes and Nei Myra for their hard work and determination. It is due very largely to their efforts that the MKA has become the successful organisation that it is today and which we are all proud of. Well done and thank you. We shall do our best to carry on the good work.

We were sorry not to have had the company of our Consul, Mr Michael, and our retired Chairperson, Mrs Rotee Walsh and their family, at this years' event. Mrs Agnes Derby and her family were also unable to be with us. The two families went to Kiribati to join the big celebrations there and no doubt, enjoyed the big day as well as having their families around. We also miss the company of Mr & Mrs Dave & Teiaia and family but we wish them well in Botswana.

We are very glad to welcome back Mark & Timake Day and all their children after spending a few years in Malawi, Africa.

Also, on behalf of the committee, I would like to thank all of you who supported us so willingly to make this year's celebration a tremendous success.

Our special thanks to Tony & Teka Wainwright who gave us their home as a base for our preparations for the weekend. Also, our enormous thanks to Tony's mother, who took charge and did most of the washing up. Thank you very much.

I was specially delighted to see the presence of; Mr & Mrs Pusinelli, Mr Randford, and Mr Tom Layng who always makes sure that he is back in the UK in time for our special event.

At the far corner of the hall, Mr John Chalkley's Art Exhibition and Mrs Roddy Cordon's books "Island Hopping" were on display. It was nice to see two of our members making use of this weekend to display their work of Art. Many thanks to you both. I know that the exhibits brought back many happy memories for many people.

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Garland presentation
(Photograph taken and donated to the Association
by Mr Jeremy Cooper)

Our big thanks goes to Fawley Council for letting us use their Community Centre for our venue this year. It was lovely to see some members of the local Council, who came to join us. We were delighted and honoured to have the company of their local MP the Right Honourable, Mr J Lewis, who dropped in just in time to cut the cake. Unfortunately, he missed out on the feast and the dancing.

A specially big "thank you" goes to the children for their beautiful contribution with their dancing. They are really such a wonderful credit to us. I understand it must be hard for you to juggle the two cultures but really, you are managing perfectly! The KTA is acting as a springboard for you to stand on, to give you an insight into your two inherited cultures.You are the future of KTA and we will rely on you to keep the movement going. We are very proud of you. Well done!

We are also grateful to have the company of the men who joined in the dancing. Mr Maritino Burentarawa, Fr. Koru and Ten Neil Franklin who danced the bino, sitting on his boots, which I thought was quite unusual! Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Millennium and look forward to seeing you all next year.

Samoala Kofe Jackson
(Chairperson)

FROM THE CONSULATES

The Twentieth Anniversary of Kiribati Independence

As most of you will know, Nei Rotee and I spent the Twentieth Anniversary of Independence as guests of the government, in Tarawa - hence our absence from the UK Independence Day Celebration. The event was extremely efficiently organised, with a week's entertainment for the foreign diplomatic corps accredited to Kiribati together with four Honorary Consuls (Australia, NZ, Japan and UK) as well as parades, competitions, feasts and dancing. As well as the resident diplomats - from Australia, NZ and China - we had the President of Nauru (sadly taken ill during his visit), the Prime Minister of Tuvalu, the American Ambassador, the Canadian High Commissioner, the Deputy UK High Commissioner and sundry others.

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Te Beretitenti (President) takes the salute
Photograph kindly provided by Michael Walsh

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Te Beretitenti and Prime Minister of Tuvalu
being arrayed for dancing, at a reception given to Independence
Anniversary guests by the Tuvalu people who live in Tarawa.
Photograph kindly provided by Michael Walsh

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The First Lady of Kiribati, Madam Keina Tito
Photograph kindly provided by Michael Walsh

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Foreign Policy & Developmental Issues

Recent World Bank and IMF Reports have singled out Kiribati as one of the best managed Pacific Islands nations - in terms of governance, human rights and prudent administration of Trust Funds (in our case the Revenue Equalisation Reserve Fund); although they think we have some way to go on the public sector not crowding out the development of the private sector, privatisation of loss making estate enterprises, freeing the economy from residual controls (e.g. price controls) and (for me, more controversially) in encouraging mass tourism and making it easier to borrow against land holdings. Kiribati is now fully connected to the Internet; email takes 2-3 hours to get there, but access to the Internet from TSKL in Tarawa is expensive, so its use is not spreading as fast as it might.

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The Police March Past
Photograph kindly provided by Michael Walsh

Having said that, locally owed private business is widespread when compared to the colonial era (good quality locally made furniture; locally distilled and bottled water; buses every two minutes with fares that are cheaper than in 1975!). 'New' style canoes, powered by outboards and rather larger than traditional canoes, have almost completely replaced sailing ones, which is sad from one point of view - but they are undoubted much more efficient, and have resulted in a good fish supply to Tarawa. The other noticeable innovation is widespread vegetable gardening.

However, visiting Kiribati after eleven years reminds one how lucky Kiribati society is to retain the family structures and support networks to look after the old and disabled - something that the present government is determined to retain and encourage.

One worry is the spread of HIV/AIDS - which in statistical terms (percentage of population) is bad, although the absolute numbers are small and so far confined to certain sections of society living on Betio. Diabetes has also become a major health problem. A second worry is the future of the international air service, as Nauru becomes less able to subsidise its airline. Talks are going on about a new regional or sub-regional airline.

United Nations

Kiribati (and Tuvalu and Nauru) are formally joining the United Nations as full members, subject to the formal approval of the UN General Assembly this month (September). Up until now, the financial implications were too burdensome for micro-states, but a change in the rules has brought membership within their reach. No decision has been taken as to whether a permanent a permanent representative will be posted to New York, but there is a Commonwealth small states secretariat which we can join, which some of the larger Commonwealth members partly fund.

The Assembly is also devoting two days of discussion of small island states, at which our prime foreign policy issue, stopping the release of global warming gases, will be aired again. Unfortunately, there is little hope that the US (who account for 25% of these gases) will take any positive steps towards implementing the Kyoto agreements, let alone the sort of action that is necessary to prevent a rise in sea levels of at least foot over the next century.

Kiritimati Island

Discussions continue with the British Government over the clean up of Kiritimati Island. A report had been completed for the UK government and submitted to them in early July, but the Kiribati Government had not seen it at the time of our visit; and there may be some continuing delay due to the Commitments of the Royal Engineers in Bosnia and Kosovo. Nevertheless the Beretitenti is still hopeful that an amicable solution will be found.

There has been some slowdown in plans to develop landing facilities for the Japanese Space Shuttle at Kiritimati, due to the economic situation in Japan; but the plan has not been dropped by any means and should happen in the first decade of the new century.

Millennium

Preparations for the Millennium do not seem to be very advanced. Although there is a stated objective of a presence at Millennium Island (nee Caroline Island), there still appear to be no firm plans for accommodation, brochures, price lists or booking mechanisms. So if anyone else accuses Kiribati of cynically changing the dateline to gain tourists .. It looks like being a very domestic celebration, primarily on Kiritimati which is technically the fourth place into the Millennial dawn, depending on whether or not you think that has already taken place at the South Pole! I have a copy of a briefing note on this subject from the Greenwich Observatory which lists the various alternatives, if anyone is interested (but eventually concludes that Caroline Island has a valid claim if you are not a super purist).

The citizens of Balla in Co. Mayo, in Ireland, are hoping to hook up to Kiribati as they plant 1000 oak trees to celebrate the New Year; and those in Alderney Edge are doing a 'virtual' exercise bike ride from Cheshire to Caroline, to raise money for local and I-Kiribati charities.

Poets

Some of you will have seen the ungrateful slanders that our would-be Poet Laureate got printed in the British Press. In actuality, he lived rent free in the Beretitenti's private house and behaved very badly, scrounging off people who had a lot less money than he did. Needless to say the tabloids were totally uninterested in our attempts to set the record straight. Teburoro may say with George the second, "I hate all boets and bainters".

Mr Michael Walsh
Honorary Consul for Kiribati

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OTHER NEWS ITEMS OBTAINED FROM THE INTERNET

The new House of Assembly has been given a go-ahead. A contract has been signed between the Kiribati government and Dai Nippon Construction Company who is to undertake this project. The new House of Assembly is being built at Ambo over two of the fish ponds which will have to be filled in to make up the required site. This project is to be financed by Kiribati and the estimated costs is AUS$9.2m.

The Chinese satellite tracking station at Temaiku has caused some concern amongst the population on Tarawa and mainly those living in Temaiku. An article in the PIM and other newspapers claimed that this tracking satellite is for spying purposes and that it is being used to spy over the USA's base based at Kwajalein in the Marshall islands. In response to expressed fears published in the "Uekera", a group of elders selected by the Betio Town Council were sent to investigate. They were given a guided tour around the satellite tracking station and one dutifully reported back to the "Uekera" that the Chinese tracking station at Temaiku is definitely not used for spying, and therefore there is no cause for panic!

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Tuvalu Consul's News

We are also very honoured to hear from Dr. Ifti Ayaz, the Tuvalu Consul to the UK, through our chairperson, Mrs Samoala Kofe Jackson. We hope to have more news from Dr. Ifti for inclusion in future editions and we apologise for the short notice given to him for this issue.

News Items:

Tuvalu government is very actively working together with the United Nations and Commonwealth countries.

The new Governor General and Prime Minister, Ionatana Ionatana are now establishing a strong footing in the country and so working together in that direction.

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DANCE ORGANISER'S REPORT

Talofa and Mauri to you all!

As you know, the Association has a Dancing Troupe which have performed in many places in England beside the get-together gatherings.

To-date, we have performed in:-

We have been dancing for some of these organisations on an annual basis. Some of them kindly donates money which contributes to the Association's funds as well as travelling costs for some of the dancers.

As part of our culture promotion, we have tried to put out a traditional dancing performance which is quite different from other Pacific Island dances and this must continue for the benefit of our children.

We are very proud to say that some of our young girls are as good as those back home. It goes to prove that our efforts in teaching and coaching them is fruitful and all credit must go to them for their enthusiasm and willingness to learn.

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Juliet Barber & friend dancing the 'Hula"

We do have male performers too, who have tried their best not to be outclassed by the females and a lot of praise goes to James Lawrence and William Iererua for their continuing enthusiasm. It will be nice to see more of our boys (and men) involved in the future.

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Elizabeth Kofe Jackson performing the stick dance

At the moment, we have invitations for these places next year:-

Here are some of the memorable scenes of the event. All photos used on this page were kindly provided by Mr Jeremy Cooper otherwise, the source of other photographs used are also acknowledged.

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Neil Franklin performing te bino - sitting dance

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Samoala Kofe Jackson performing te bino

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Suliana Barber and friend enjoying their food

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James Lawrence and William Iererua

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Rakee Tibaua-Hardy performing 'Te-baka-n-Ereti'!

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Avira Harding & Kabure Blake performing 'Te Kaimatoa'

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Helen White & the girls performing 'Te Kabuti'

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Myra Iererua performing 'Sopomelemele'

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Volleyball game for everybody!

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Biromina Lawrence, Father Koru Tito and Rakee Tibaua-Hardy

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Miss Helen White performing a 'Tamule'
Photo: Jeremy Cooper

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Elizabeth Blake performing 'Te Buki'

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Some of the invited guests enjoying afternoon tea,
including Mrs Rosemary Seligman (Grimble)

We would like to thank those who have supported us in any way, especially the husbands who have travelled with us to these places, especially as drivers and also as our supporting team, and not forgetting, those husbands that have to cope whilst the wives are away on these dancing trips which, most of them take up the whole weekend.

Kam bati n rabwa & Fafetai.

Avira Harding & Rakee Tibaua-Hardy
(Dance Organiser & Assistance)

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 Maintained by Jane Resture at jane@janeresture.com -- Revised 15th March 2010