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  • Writer's pictureItinterunga Rae Bainteiti

Remittance and trade on Rabi Island April 2021

Updated: Apr 22, 2021

Banabans living on Rabi Island, Fiji 2021
Rabi Island, Fiji 2021

The Rabi Postal services, which is the only financial institution on Rabi Island (1) that has been operational for decades now, is trying to keep up with the increased demand in remittance payments to the island.

On average, $30,000 to $40,000 is paid out weekly. This signifies the strength of our diaspora communities remitting back from mainland Fiji, Australia, New Zealand, the US, Kiribati and other parts of the globe to support families on Rabi.

Trade, on the other hand, on commodities such as kava (2) provides for the island's main income for farmers. This is a critical economic activity.

The private sector is expanding uncontrollably and is thriving. In fact, the private sectors play a critical role today on Rabi. They are now providing essential services for the defunct Rabi Council of Leaders (3) in areas of transport, among others.

Remittances and trade are pivotal for the socio-economic development on Rabi island.

18 April, 2021

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. Kava (Piper methysticum) is a plant native to Fiji and other Pacific islands. The root of the plant is used to produce a drink with sedative, anaesthetic and euphoriant properties. It plays an important part in Fijian culture. It was not traditionally part of Banaban culture or grown on the Banaban homeland, Banaba (Ocean Island).

3. Rabi Council of Leaders is the elected body administering Banaban Affairs on Rabi Island, Fiji under the Banaban Settlement Act in the Fiji Constitution and Banaba under Chapter 9 in the Kiribati Constitution.


Banaban academic, human right advocate.

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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