Kiribati Independence Day Celebrations in NZ 2017

With a growing population of I-Kiribati in New Zealand let us take a look at a brief history of the islands, of I-Kiribati in NZ and what events are being held this week in NZ to celebrate Kiribati Independence Day July 12 2017.





The first settlers in the Gilbert Islands and Banaba came from Southeast Asia, by way of Micronesia, some 4,000 to 5,000 years ago with the southern islands receiving an influx of Samoans around about the 14th century. 


Although the indigenous Kiribati name for the Gilbert Islands is widely accepted as Tungaru, the name Kiribati was adopted at independence in 1979.


Pronounced kiribasi, based on local enunciation of Gilberts after the British explorer Thomas Gilbert.


As the Gilbert Islands it became a British protectorate in 1892 and a colony in 1915, in modern history they were captured by the Japanese in the Pacific War in 1941, when two of its islands- Makin and Tarawa- were the sites of horrific US-Japanese battles during WWII in 1943.


The Gilbert Islands were granted self-rule by the UK in 1971, adopted internal self-government and a Ministerial system in 1977 and gained complete independence in 1979, under the new name of Kiribati.


In Kiribati, Independence Day festivities usually last for several days as the government appoints the dates of several public holidays (Gospel Day, Senior Citizens' Day and National Culture Day) during the Independence Day week.


The biggest celebration is held in South Tarawa, the capital of Kiribati. It takes place at the Bairiki National Stadium and includes the President's speech as well as a colourful parade.


Independence Day festivities involve traditional dance, kite-flying, canoe races and various sports events and competitions.



I-Kiribati in New Zealand: a snapshot


From Boutokaan te mweeraoi – A Conceptual Framework for enhancing I-Kiribati wellbeing which can be found on the resources page of the Pasefika Proud website.


According to the 2013 Census, the population of I-Kiribati in New Zealand was 2,115. (Representing a growth rate of almost 100 percent from the population of 1,100 recorded in the 2006 Census.)


Although there are established communities in both the North Island and the South Island, the majority of I-Kiribati live in Auckland, with significant communities in Hamilton, Wellington, Hawkes Bay, Taranaki, Bay of Plenty and the South Island.


The community has a median age of 20.6 years with 32.8 percent born in New Zealand and 67.2 percent born overseas.


In the early 21st century, greater numbers of I-Kiribati began to take advantage of new immigration pathways to New Zealand, these included:


The Pacific Access Category established between 2001 and 2002 which enables permanent migration for 75 Kiribati citizens per year.


The Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme established in 2007, which allows temporary labour migration for I-Kiribati workers in the horticulture and viticulture industries


The Skilled Migrant Scheme is another pathway that I-Kiribati have utilised to explore opportunities in New Zealand.


A Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand report on Kiribati migration to New Zealand cited research noting that 521 I-Kiribati were granted residency in New Zealand between 2003 and 2007 (Gillard and Dyson 2011: 9).


Kiribati communities gather annually around the country to mark the anniversary of their national independence on 12 July 1979.


On a more regular basis, most I-Kiribati tend to congregate in church- and faith-based communities, which also promote the preservation of the language, singing and dancing, as well as sport.



Events around New Zealand


There are several events being held around NZ for people to celebrate in the South Island there’s a celebration at Scottish Hall in Invercargill from 4 to 6pm on Saturday July 15.


In Wellington you can celebrate with the Wellington Kiribati club from 9am to 3:30pm at Mungavin Hall, Porirua.


There’s a Waikato event on the 22nd of July at 9am at Horahora marae, 172 Horahora road, RD2, Rangiriri, Huntly in Hamilton.


In the Hawkes Bay on Saturday 15 July from 9am to 9pm at the Cook Island Hall. A full day of events where, amongst others things, you can complete a survey, have a group quiz related to Kiribati Independence and win Kiribati 2018 calendars.


And in Auckland on Saturday 15 July starting at 9 am at the Trust Arena in Henderson.