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  • Writer's pictureItinterunga Rae Bainteiti

Quarantine Rabi Island Amidst Covid 19 Lockdown Fiji

Rabi Island, Fiji safe during Covid lockdown
The remoteness of Rabi Island. Fiji makes it one of the safest locations during a Covid19 break out. Or is it?

The Banaban Settlement Act of 1970 has a "Quarantine" clause embedded in it. These Regulations may be cited as the Rabi Island (Infectious Diseases) Regulations 1956. It makes it the only self governing island in Fiji to have such control to combat unwanted diseases. This is crucial to protect our population from mass extinction.

[BAS 16,600] Short title

[BAS 16,615] Isolation 4 A medical officer shall have power to order the isolation or removal to hospital of persons suffering from any infectious disease, and no person so isolated or removed to hospital shall leave or be taken from the place where he or she has been isolated or leave the hospital or be taken therefrom unless so ordered by the medical officer.

[BAS 16,650] Quarantine or isolation

11 The medical officer may order any locality to be quarantined or isolated when in his or her opinion the spread of any infectious disease can thereby be checked, and any persons entering or leaving such locality against such order shall be guilty of a breach of these Regulations.

[BAS 16,655] Penalty

12 Any person who knowingly commits a breach of any of the provisions of these Regulations shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $20 and in default to imprisonment for any period not exceeding 2 months.

At times like this covid-19 pandemic, this subsidiary legislation should be activated especially as people flee the centre of the outbreak.

But ...

1. How effective is this law, now that RCL is dissolved?

2. Is the penalty of $20 fit for context today?

3. Can quarantine commence on Rabi for those travelling on the last boat from Suva on Tuesday night 21 April 2021?

4. Can this subsidiary legislation be reviewed?

5. How can we mitigate the risks? Do we have village mitigation plans?

This is important because we know that the last boat from Suva last night sailed amid the covid19 outbreak at Cunningham. By noon, today, we would have people arriving on Rabi.

Let us be vigilant. Let us protect our families from covid19 by practicing good hygiene.

Please do the right thing if you are travelling to Rabi at this time.?


22 April 2021

Nuku, Rabi, Fiji

  1. The Banaban people 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. They arrived on Rabi on the 15 December 1942.

  2. Location of Rabi Island, Fiji


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.


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