TO JANES OCEANIA PAGE
ASPECTS OF OCEANIA
I call this my Aspects of Oceania Page in recognition of the complexity of the lifestyle of the different people who live on the myriad of islands that go to make up Oceania. Each of these islands has its own culture and social values that preclude talking in detail about Oceania within the confines of a single Web Page.
Instead, I will talk about some aspects that are common to many of the people of Oceania. These include the relationship between the people and the ocean and the effects of a devastating war upon the lifestyle of these people. Indeed, the effects of the war left no family untouched and the physical and emotional scars still remain today.
I like the word Oceania. To me it encapsulates the spirit of the people living on the far flung atolls and islands of this part of the Pacific Ocean. It embodies the complex culture of these remarkable people who live as one with the ocean.
I use it on this Web Page to represent Kiribati in Micronesia, Tuvalu in Polynesia and the Solomon Islands in Melanesia. These are the countries in which I grew up and it is to these people of Oceania that I have dedicated this Web Page.
Kiribati consists of thirty three low lying coral atolls located in the Central Pacific straddling the equator. These coral atolls are divided into three main groups known as the Gilbert, Phoenix and Line Islands. They make up the Republic of Kiribati which has Tarawa as its capital. Formerly the Gilbert Islands, Kiribati achieved its Independence on l2th July 1979.
The population of Kiribati is approximately 87,000. The people have finely moulded features, straight black hair and light brown skin. The main languages spoken are Gilbertese and English.
Christmas Island is the largest coral atoll in the world with an area of 248 square miles of which 125 square miles is land and the remainder lagoons. It has a designated wildlife sanctuary with seabird colonies of worldwide scientific importance with eighteen species nesting regularly on the main island and lagoon islets. Species include tropic birds, frigate birds, shearwater, petrel, terns, noddys, reef heron, mallard and the Christmas Island warbler which is only found on Christmas Island.
There is also an abundance of fish and marine life including the bonefish, wahoo, yellowfin tuna, trevally, groupers, sailfish and sharks.
There are a number of historical sites in Kiribati including the Island of Abemama which was the first Island on which the Union Jack was hoisted by Captain E. H. M. Davis in 1892. It was also the home of famous author Robert Louis Stevenson who lived there in 1889.
Kiribati 2000: The first country to greet the dawn of the new millennium.
Extract of the Davis Diaries declaring a British Protectorate over the Gilbert Islands (Kiribati) in Micronesia.
Captain Davis Diaries Parts 1 and 2.
There are two major hotels that provide accommodation in Kiribati. The Otintaai Hotel which is located on Tarawa Island and the Captain Cook Hotel on Christmas (Kiritimati) Island.
The people of Kiribati have a reputation of producing the finest handicrafts in the South Pacific. They are also famed for their canoe building, weaving and dancing (mwaie).
Click here for more images of Kiribati Mwaie! (dancing)
|Tuvalu is the world's second smallest country with a total of only 26 square kilometres. Indeed, the word Tuvalu literally means "cluster of eight", which aptly describes this country which comprises nine low-lying coral atolls one of which is uninhabited. The capital and administrative centre is Funafuti.|
||A Tuvaluan scene on the front of a Post Office presentation pack (Coral Reef - Part 1V).|
The Polynesian people first came to Tuvalu some 2000 years ago. Groups of warriors also arrived from Kiribati and their language is still spoken on the island of Nui. Tuvaluan and English are both spoken throughout the islands.
Formerly called the Ellice Islands, Tuvalu was made a British Protectorate as the Gilbert and Ellice Islands in 1892. Legally separated from the Gilberts (now Kiribati) in l976, Tuvalu became an independent constitutional monarchy and the 38th member of the Commonwealth on lst October l978.
Funafuti lagoon, Tuvalu
The Vaiaku Lagi Hotel facing the Funafuti lagoon is Tuvalu's only hotel. There are also the Fisherman's Lodge, the Hideaway Guest House, Su's Place Guest House and Filamona Lodge (among others) which all provide accommodation.
Tuvalu - Paradise Islands Of Polynesia and Jane's Tuvalu Home Page!
The Solomon Islands are made up of more than 990 islands, which together cover a land mass of 28,000 square kilometres. The main islands are Santa Isabel, San Cristobal, Choiseul, Malaita, New Georgia and Guadalcanal on which the capital Honiara is located.
The Solomon Islanders are warm friendly people of mostly Melanesian descent (90%) with some Polynesian, Gilbertese, European and Asian. The official language is English, and there are more than l20 indigenous languages, including pidgin English, spoken throughout the Island Group.
The Solomon Islands became a fully Independent Nation in 1978. At present, the country operates under a system of nine provinces. The National Parliament consists of a single chamber of 47 elected members presided over by a speaker.
|Solomon Islands girl softening pandanus leaf for mat weaving.|
Lush tropical rainforests cover most of the island group and their steep hilly slopes are interspersed with swift flowing creeks, waterfalls and peaceful lagoons. Exotic orchids, ferns and palms are found everywhere and butterflies are in abundance. There are more than 70 species of reptiles. A variety of trees and shrubs have been introduced along with fruits and vegetables.
|Waterfall on Matanikau River, Guadalcanal - Solomon Islands.|
Solomon Kitano Mendana Hotel
Honiara, Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands.
In the Capital Honiara, there are a number of excellent Hotels and Motels. These include the Solomon Kitano Mendana Hotel, the Honiara Hotel, the King Solomon Hotel and the Quality Motel. In Honiara, one is also able to visit, the National Museum, the Point Cruz Yacht Club and the bustling Chinatown.
Venturing further afield, there is an abundance of scuba diving and fishing. In the Western Province, Gizo is the perfect stopping off point to visit and explore the tiny atolls. One of these is Kennedy Island (Plum Pudding Island) where the late President John F. Kennedy and his crew were shipwrecked during the World War 1l.
Solomon Islands - Treasured Islands Of Melanesia Web Site!
ISLANDERS AND THE SEA
When an Islander looks into the ocean he sees many things. There are the fish and the creatures of the deep that provide him with food; there are the spirits that he calls on to give him strength and lastly, a reflection of himself. There is a rare and beautiful affinity between the Island people and the sea. It is something that cannot be fully explained. Islanders understand the sea; the moods of the sea they seem to know and respect. They are at peace with the sea when it is calm and they respect and keep their distance from the sea when it turns nasty and treacherous. The sea is their life.
There have been many stories of sailors from the islands of Oceania and how they survived in small canoes for months on end when lost at sea. How is it that Island sailors in these small canoes or craft are able to navigate quite safely across vast expanses of ocean with no navigational aids or bearings? Again, the answer is simple; it lies in their deep understanding of the sea.
The Lure of the Sea
The lure of the sea has been written about many times, and I have reproduced below one example that I think perfectly encapsulates the feeling:
Island life may seem on the surface to be very idyllic but, in fact, our very existence is often very precarious. So many island communities live on small coral outcrops, often only a little above sea level. These outcrops can be very easily overtaken by the sea, however, despite all this, these atolls are our home and are inhabited by people with a great love for life. We are affectionate and friendly people who love laughing.
The Pacific War began with the surprise attack by the Japanese on Pearl Harbour. There were savage campaigns throughout Oceania in particular the Battle of Tarawa that left not a single tree or dwelling standing. The Japanese bombing of Funafuti, the capital of Tuvalu as well as Nanumea, Nukufetau, etc. in addition to the American landing against the Japanese at Red Beach on Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands.
Opening in the mid-fifties, Immaculate Heart College, Taborio, Tarawa was the first major Ladies Boarding College to be established by the Roman Catholic Church in Kiribati.
Located on the northern side of Tarawa at Taborio (Cape Rio), Immaculate Heart College was established and administered by Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Sisters.
In the early days, the teachers were primarily Irish and Australian Sisters who provided a well rounded education for their students. All lessons were in English and students were encouraged to be very proficient in English. One hour was allocated between five and six each evening, Monday to Friday, when Gilbertese (I-Kiribati) could be spoken. In addition, Gilbertese could be spoken over the weekend. Our Gilbertese language was also taught as part of the curriculum.
Previously administered from Australia, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Sisters became a Province on 1st January 2000 after being Vice-Province in 1995 administered directly from Rome.
Now co-educational, Immaculate Heart College continues to produce high quality graduates who play an important part in Government and Public life in Kiribati.
|Jane's Oceania Home Page|
|Jane's Web Page!||A Short History Of Kiribati|