The Banaba, Republic of Kiribati, Message Forum

This Web site was developed and presented by a Kiribati person (I-Kiribati),
Dame Dr. Jane Resture


Ocean Island, known by its Kiribati name of Banaba, is one of the many interesting islands in the Gilbert Group, Republic of Kiribati (Micronesia), as shown on the map below as well as being depicted as one of the seventeen rays of the sun on our Kiribati flag, also below. Administered by the Republic of Kiribati from the capital, Tarawa (Bairiki), Banaba has always been and still remains part of Kiribati - the reverse or any other variation has never been the case. 

The Republic of Kiribati is made up of three groups comprising thirty-three islands. These are: the Gilbert Group which consists of seventeen islands including Banaba; the Phoenix Group (eight islands); and the Line Islands (eight islands). In the company of the other islands of the Republic of Kiribati, Banaba has its own history, as well as its own unique, beautiful and complex culture that have evolved over many generations. Where Banaba stands apart results from its geographical location and the discovery of phosphate.

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The phosphate of Ocean Island (Banaba) has had a great deal of impact on the life, the economy and the history of Kiribati. The people of Banaba purchased another island to replace Ocean Island. This is the island of Rabi (administered from the Republic of Kiribati capital, Tarawa) in distant Fiji - and so many of them have a life spent far from their own country – all because of the wealth to be garnered for someone else’s benefit. However, this relocation was one of many that occurred in Kiribati. The others all resulted from overcrowding on mainly the islands of the southern Gilberts (Kiribati Maiaki). It is a testament to the depth of our culture that these relocations also took with them those things such as our culture, customs and rituals. 

A tribute to the memory of the outstanding pioneer phosphate prospector in the Pacific and New Zealand's  first Phosphate Commissioner, the late Sir Albert Ellis. His first camp site on the above at Ocean Island is marked by this coral pinnacle, with commemorative plaque and inscription.

A view from the Ocean Island (Banaba) boat harbour of the B.P.C. flagship, Tri-Ellis, loading phosphate under the Cantilever Loading Unit and simultaneously unloading cargo into lighters and pumping oil and water ashore.

Articulated transporter buses carry members of the B.P.C. indentured labour force on Nauru and Ocean Islands to their work in the phosphate fields.

This view of Tri-Ellis under the Cantilerver Loading Unit at Ocean Island shows how vessels are moored only 150 feet from the seaward edge of the treacherous coral reef, denoted by the surf line.

Phosphate raising operations in progress at Ocean Island (Banaba).

The solid nature of much of the rock phosphate in the Ocean Island fields calls for blasting, to break it up before it is extracted. Here drilling for the placing of blasting charges is in progress.


A view from the cliff of B.P.C. crushing, drying and storage installation at Ocean Island (Banaba).

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I have dedicated the following poem to Banaba and the people of Banaba:

Banaba – Our Rock of Kiribati

You still stand proud like a rock
Although they took all you have got
The miners and Japanese
A few of us remain but it is just not the same
And I suppose just not meant to be.

And away with the clouds flying high in the sky
Blows the haunting wind of Nei Tiein
Wisely ever blowing and always ever knowing
You carry our earthly spirits far away again.

And frigate bird you can fly through the great bye and bye
Man's problems mean nothing to thee
As if Nareau the Wise had given you the eyes
To see right through all the hypocrisy.

For the spirits that guide us, the darkness that hides us,
Besides us always will be
For wherever we go, as both you and I know
We become what we are meant to be.

So good bye you old rock, say farewell to your flock
Now living on an island so far away
For whatever has come cannot be undone
And I will remember you always for the rest of my days
 Banaba – Our Rock of Kiribati.

Poem by Jane Resture

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The following poem was inspired in this case by the frigate bird, as shown on our Republic of Kiribati national flag, flying over the ocean to the backdrop of a tropical sunrise. The frigate bird carries messages from place to place and symbolises freedom and power. Looking at the Republic of Kiribati flag, the seventeen rays of the sun represent the seventeen islands of the Gilbert Group including Banaba. The three waves in the lower half of the flag stand for the Gilberts, Phoenix and Line Island Groups. The vast ocean over which the bird is flying is a reminder that Kiribati is a sea territory with far more water than land.

Flag of the Republic of Kiribati (including Banaba)

In making a wish upon the frigate bird and the flying fish, it is hoped that they will carry a message of peace from place to place both over and under the vast Pacific Ocean. It is also hoped that this message is one which will allow the people of the Republic of Kiribati, including Banaba, as well as the rest of the world, to live in peace, prosperity and harmony.
My Wish
by Jane Resture
The frigate bird
The flying fish
It is time for us
To make a wish
And I wish for the sunrise
To be beautiful each time
With days that are perfect
And nights so sublime
And I wish for the sunset
To be like a long red sail
Each and every day
And you and I will always stay
Whatever we wish
Will surely come true
And I wish for happiness
For me and you
And I wish for the world
To live in peace
To live and love as one
To a simple beat
And I wish for us all
To have our lives full of love
Full of joy and happiness
And eternal love

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(E-mail: -- 30th April 2012)