Pacific Island Books
Kiribati (Gilbert Islands)

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Akekeia! Traditional Dance in Kiribati by Tony & Joan Whincup. ISBN 0646415549. Published by Tobaraoi Travel. Recommended retail price $74.99.

Dance is the expression of joy and sorrow, maybe love, friendship being expressed through the dance in the highest way – so dancing in Kiribati is one of the highest forms of expression. It’s a way of bringing the community together, participating in certain celebrations, that’s why you develop this sense of unity in the community through dance, also beginning to appreciate your own culture. It gives joy to the people, they cannot celebrate without dance. Also the preparation of dance takes a long time, so in doing that they really develop their sense of unity towards the community – it’s a way of educating our young people, participating in their culture especially in dances – so dance is the center of our life really…this is the way our highest point of expression, our emotions and feelings about life and relationship between one another and also the relationship with the invisible world, the spirit are all in the dance; so it’s a big wealth for us and a very rich expression of our life through the dances. Hard cover, 168 pages. Published in 2001.

Ana Otabwanin Kiritimati: The Environment of Christmas Island by Roger Perry and Martin Garnett. Recommended retail price $12.

Originally published as The Natural History of Birdlife of Christmas Island, this book was written thanks to a grant from the Overseas Development Administration (British Development Division, Fiji). It includes diagrams and photos of the many different bird populations residing and visiting Christmas Island as well as some information and drawings on the plants, land crabs and lizards. Soft cover, 36 pages. Published in 1998.

Book of Banaba, The by H. C and H. E Maude. Published by the Institute of Pacific Studies. ISBN 06420128X. Recommended retail price $15.

When the Banabans had to leave their ancestral homeland as a result of the devastation caused by the phosphate mining industry they settled on the island of Rabi in Fiji.

Unfortunately the traumatic upheavals which the community has been through since the beginning of the century, and particularly since the Japanese occupation, have resulted in an understandable loss of confidence and a questioning of their identity and future. The Rabi born, in particular, have little conception of their rich historical heritage and former culture.

This book, therefore, has been prepared to provide the present and future generations of Rabi islanders with all that thas been recorded of their former way of life on Banaba from the time their forebears first settled it over a thousand years ago and created a prosperous, self-supporting and happy society numbering several thousand.

The work will be of interest as well to a wider readership since it is the first to detail the settlement of an isolated Pacific Island, the development on it over the centuries of a community superbly integrated into its unique environment, and its final reluctant abandonment owing to external pressures beyond their control. Soft cover, 124 pages. Published in 1994.

Borau Ni Kiribati, Te (text of Kiribati) by Etekia Ainati and Abera Timea.  ISBN 9820201306. Published by the Institute of Pacific Studies. Recommended retail price $12.

Kaain Kiribati bon taani borau mangkoa aika a konabwai.  N te boki ae kakaawaki aei, e kaokira rikaki Etekia Ainati bwa ti na nori bonganan manin ao bwain abara, marawa ao karawa.  E teretere man te boki bwa ngaia bon taian “tirotaam” taabo aikai.  A kona n noraki ao ni warekaki iai kanikina ake a kaoti kanoan bong aika a na roko bwa te buaka ke te raoi ao a bati riki.  Aikai rabakau aika a bongana irouia aomata nako, riki taan borau ao taan akawa. Soft cover, 61 pages. Published in 1997.

Kiribati by Tony Whincup. Published by Tobaraoi Travel. Recommended retail price $22.50.

This is a collection of photographs depicting everyday life in Kiribati.

Tony Whincup was born and educated in Britain. He has worked extensively as an educator and photographer in Britain, Uganda and Kiribati. Whincup has an arts training in painting and photography, a degree in education, a masters degree in anthropology and is currently a Fellow of the New Zealand Institute of Professional Photographers and Senior Lecturer at Massey University

His work is in both private and public collections and numerous publications including; Nareau’s Nation – a portrait of the Gilbert Islands, Te Katake – a joint publication with his wife Joan on the ancient singing styles of Kiribati, Pacific Way, Kiribati Politics, Aspects of Kiribati Hostory, The Gilbertese Maneaba, Year in the Life of New Zealand and Wellington Album.

The collection of photographs in this book he feels, captures some of the timeless and peaceful qualities of Kiribati. Hard cover, 59 pages. Published in 1999.

Kiribati: A Changing Atoll Culture by Batiri T. Bataua et al. Recommended retail price $15.

The small nations of the Pacific demand special attention owing to their vulnerability in numbers and resources. Now a group of I-Kiribati write about the changes taking place in their atoll culture. the clash of tradition and modernization is explored by men and women who experience daily the indecisions of the present. Their personal statements about the future of Kiribati which now stands at the crossroads are compelling and will no doubt provoke controversy both within Kiribati and in other small Pacific nations facing similar questions of cultural identity. Soft cover, 205 pages.

Kiribati: Aspects of History by sister Alaima Talu and others. ISBN 9820200512. Published by the Institute of Pacific Studies. Recommended retail price $15.

This book was written by a team of Gilbertese men and women on the occasion of that country's independence. It does not aim to be an exhaustive academic history, but rather to see from a Gilbertese perspective what has so far been available only through the eyes of others. This is an important breakthrough for the Gilberts and the Pacific. Kiribati became an independent sovereign nation on 12 July, 1979 incorporating within its boundaries the former Gilbert Islands, the Line Islands and the Phoenix Islands. Kiribati has been used in the title of this book. However, because the text was prepared for printing before the decision to change the name was made, the old name of Gilbert Islands has been used in the English text to refer to the country as a whole. Soft cover, 146 pages. Published in 1984.

Management of Marine Resources in Kiribati by Roniti Teiwaki. Published by the Institute of Pacific Studies. Recommended retail price $14.

The Law of the Sea Convention made Kiribati a major actor in international ocean affairs. Kiribati, a late starter in the field of marine management, benefited from others’ mistakes. The question of marine resources has been significant to Kiribati for generations. Prior to the coming of external forces the people of Kiribati (I-Kiribati) had their unique system of traditional sea tenure, which allowed them to live more or less in harmony with their atoll environment. British colonialism recognized the vital importance of the sea in the subsistence economy of the local people and for over half a century, during their administration of the islands, the British government deliberately avoided upsetting the status quo. However, the need for overseas earnings have changed the once subsistence exploitation of the fisheries into exploitative international harvesting .

After independence in 1979, the Kiribati government continued the exploration and development of marine resources as an integral part of its overall economic program, and is being assisted in the process by foreign aid, principally by Britain and Japan. Soft cover, 239 pages.

Material Culture of Kiribati by Gerd Koch. Recommended retail price $16.

This work was originally published in German as "Materielle Kultur der Gilbert Inseln" - "Material Culture of the Gilbert Islands," as the islands were at that time, part of the then Gilbert and Ellice Islands Colony. In 1979 the group achieved its independence, becoming a Republic within the British Commonwealth and taking the name 'Kiribati'. As the book deals with the culture of the people who have inhabited the islands for a considerable period of time, Professor Koch felt it would be sensible to refer to the islands and the people by their present names rather than their former ones. Throughout, therefore, references in the original to the "Gilbert Islands" and "Gilbertese" have been translated as "Kiribati" and the "I Kiribati."

Topics covered include: Food supply and preparation, hygiene, clothing, ornaments, cords, houses, furniture, rafts, canoes, games, weapons in their historical, cultural context. Soft cover, 272 pp.

Click here for drawing of food chest from Material Culture of Kiribati by Gerd Koch. (34.69K)

Click here for drawing of fish trap from The Material Culture of Kiribati by Gerd Koch (33.71K)

Nei Ikuiku Ma Ana Karaki by Tekarei Tibwere Russell. Published by the Institute of Pacific Studies. ISBN 9820200970. Recommended retail price $5.

Originally written in 1979, these are stories written in the Kiribati language. Soft cover, 44 pages. Reprinted in 1994.


Te Rii ni Banaba, by Raobeia Ken Sigrah and Stacey M. King.  ISBN 9820203228. Published by the Institute of Pacific Studies. Recommended retail price $38.

Te Rii ni Banaba (the backbone of Banaba) is a history of the people of Banaba, through their genealogies, myths, legends, customs, culture, sports, music, dance, totems, and magic rituals.  The authors discuss anthropological, archaeological and linguistic evidence that point to the uniqueness of the Banaban people.

Te Rii ni Banaba, which brings to light new research, including long kept secrets of the te Aka clan, and the successive invasions of Banaba.  The auriaria established Tabwewa District and their customs were distinct from those of the people who preceded them.  Nei Anginimaeao’s arrival led to new boundaries and the introduction of new rights, resulting in the emergence of a different culture again.  Then the I-Matang arrived.  First, White beachcombers, blackbirders, whalers, and missionaries came, followed by miners.  The Japanese occupied the island during World War II.  Mining and war led to displacement of the Banaban people, who were twice exiled from their homeland – first to Kosrae, Nauru, and Tatawa during the war, then to Rabi (Fiji) afterward.  Always remote and now decimated from mining, Banaba remains in the hearts of all Banabans who still retain their original culture, as detailed in this book.

Raobeia Ken Sigrah is a Banaban, born and schooled on Rabi and elsewhere in Fiji.  His elders educated him on Banaban genealogies, myths, legends, and customs.  He danced, sang and played Banaba’s living culture as he grew up.  He has worked for the Rabi Council of Leaders and represented Banabans in cultural performances abroad.  Until now, he has carried much of this knowledge in his head, utilizing this information in his role as clan spokesman.

Stacey M. King, called Nei Titeiti Naking by the Banabans, hails from an Australian family, who for four generations, were involved with the phosphate mining industry on Banaba.  Led by family interest, she conducted her own research, visiting Rabi for the first time in 1991.  She began to publish Banaba/Ocean Island News in 1992 and in 1993 formed the Banaban Heritage Society Inc, a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of history and bettering the lives of the Banaban people.

Together Sigrah and King have built a vast collection of original documents and research material, and interviewed people who have lived and worked on Banaba.  All the Banaban clans involved in this history have sanctioned their work for this book.  With the elders permission, Sigrah and King’s findings are now finally published.  Te Rii ni Banaba offers not only traditional knowledge, but also research.  Its vast number of pictures and diagrams show the essence of Banaba.  The book is essential reading for Banabans and all people interested in Banaba’s story. Soft cover, 367 pages. Published in 2001.

Click on links below for these books.

2002 Kiribati Phone Book

Islands of the Frigate Bird by Daryl Tarte illustrated by Teweiariki Teaero

Kirisimasi: Fijian troops at Britains's Christmas Island Nuclear tests edited by Salabula et al

Micronesia Handbook by Neil Levy

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Last modified on Monday, December 27, 2010