Displacement Ground - Rabi Island, Fiji
Updated: Apr 21
As I sat on this stage, I remembered how we would always anticipate the 15 December (1) every year. Because this is the very stage that our Banaban ancestors and countrymen shared their stories of displacement and grief from the traumatic displacement experiences since 1945. I remembered vividly as a child growing up - there was just intense excitement as we approached December.
As a child and product of displacement, we need to acknowledge this ground as an important historical site and the role it played on our lives today. We are intact as communities, because of the values instilled to us from this very ground.
You see - it holds more than just a ground (2) for all national festivities, events and cultural activities. It was the ground that our ancestors fought to build their resilience to survive the harsh conditions that were foreign to them 75 years ago. We are breathing because of them.
Lives were lost on this ground but more importantly, we are breathing right now because of those that fought to live on this ground and I believe we can honour them.
Let us not forget the "Displacement grounds". Let us make this ground as a memorial and historical site.
We can erect a memorial rock with names of the pioneer countrymen, we can write a brief history on a board and we can also recognise the site on google maps (GIS).
19 April 2021
15 December is the day that Banabans on Rabi, Fiji commemorate their first arrival on the island on 15 December 1945. They were forcibly removed from their homeland, Banaba (Ocean Island) by invading Japanese forces in 1942. During that time Banabans were sent to work in a Japanese labour camp in Kosrae, and nearby Nauru and Tarawa islands. The surviving 703 Banabans were gathered together on Tarawa by the British government in 1945 and told they were being sent to Rabi, Island Fiji over 2,200 kilometres away. The British had purchased the freehold island out of the Banabans own phosphate Royalty funds at the start of WWII.
The grounds are situated in Nuku, Tabwewa where all four villages gather for week-long celebrations including a main march past, cultural, sports, dance, agriculture and all aspects of Banaban life.
Itinterunga Rae Bainteiti
BA Social Work (Hons, Massey University, current), Cert Project Management (KIT) 2013- Dip Business Accounting (FNU) 2009- Her Majesty the Queen 2018 Point of Light Award for youth voluntary service.
Rae is of Banaban and Kiribati origins, raised and educated in Fiji throughout his childhood. His grandparents were forced to relocate to Rabi in Fiji from Banaba Island in 1945 after the British mined the island extensively for phosphate. His environmental, social justice work is linked to the history of his people and the degradation caused by mining.
He has extensive involvement in Local Government and NGOs, including Kiribati Local Government Association and the Kiribati Climate Action Network. He was a co-founder of several youth organisations, including Kiribati Against Corruption and the Kiribati National Youth Association of NGOs.
Rae is a passionate community and youth worker with interests in mental health, domestic violence, and social justice. During his studies in New Zealand, he interned at Mahu Vision Community Trust and Ember. He also co-founded the Kiribati Aotearoa Diaspora Directorate Charitable Trust in 2018 and the Auckland Banaban Christian Fellowship Support Hub in 2020.
Rae currently serves as a Board member of the Pacific Climate Action Network, Pacific Youth.