Kiribati celebrates independence

posted: 4:40 pm - 23rd July 2017
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Several events were held around the country to celebrate Kiribati Independence Day from 12 July 2017, including a special event in Invercargill.

Ministy staff attended the celebrations at Scottish Hall on 17 July for Kiribati’s 38th anniversary of independence, hosted by the Kiribati Waipounamu Community and Recognised Seasonal Employees.

Kiribati communities from Marlborough, Canterbury, Dunedin, Timaru, Oamaru, and Invercargill gathered to celebrate their rich culture through music, song and dance.

Many were dressed in their traditional clothing, flowered garlands and flower bands around their heads.

Dances and songs were performed and included young children.

This is the second time Invercargill has hosted the South Island-wide celebration with other events celebrating the independence being held around the country.

The Ministry supports Independence Day festivities as a way to revive culture through performances and to encourage young people to pick up the language.

The effort the Ministry has put into collaboration and partnerships with communities is recognised in some of these events, which demonstrates the value of the Ministry’s assistance to empower Pacific communities. 

Ministry staff who attended said the celebration was pure, packed with Kiribati flavour and was absolutely fantastic for the Kiribati community.

The 2013 Census recorded the population of I-Kiribati in New Zealand as 2,115. This is an increase of almost 100 percent from the population of 1,100 recorded in the 2006 Census.

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

The South Island Kiribati community united and formed a registered incorporated society in 2015, adopting the name ‘Waipounamu’, te reo for South Island.

Formerly known as the Gilbert Islands, the name Kiribati was adopted when the tiny island gained independence from Britain in 1979.