The Authors' Story behind Te Rii ni Banaba - Backbone of Banaba
Updated: Nov 7, 2021
Raobeia Ken Sigrah & Stacey M. King
The first thought that comes to mind when you meet this unusual couple… is how did they ever end up together? Stacey King appears your average blond Australian businesswoman who has learned the hard way what it is like to compete in Australia’s tough male-dominated business world, while Raobeia (Ken) Sigrah with his dark coffee coloured skin, strong chiselled face, and sinewy body, has a habit of greeting total strangers with such warmth and his infectious smile that he immediately takes people off guard. To see them together they are obviously in love, a team, but, how on earth did they ever meet? This is the question they are asked often and one that still brings a smile to their faces. Their reaction is almost identical as they turn to each other and say, ‘who’s going to tell them our story – ‘You or me?’ A story that opens a ‘Pandora’s Box’ of a world so different to modern civilization, one filled with the stories of an ancient people, their fight for justice and the crucial role this couple, from two very different lands and cultures have in this amazing saga. Their epic story and journey is a remarkable tale of a forgotten Pacific people known today as the Banabans, and their indigenous tribal origins of the mysterious te Aka people, which for centuries has been safely guarded in a veil of secrecy.
Now the story of te Aka has finally been exposed and made public in this couple’s amazing quest to save not only Ken's people but his small island homeland – Banaba, situated in the middle of the Pacific. Banaba Island was once known as the richest island on earth and now has been left forgotten and environmentally devastated by the three powerful and wealthy nations of the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand. Their story is indeed comparable to the David and Goliath struggle in biblical times and the spiritual power and nature of events that seem to be unfolding are all part of their destinies that have brought them and their families together a century later. This tale is about their incredible journey and their quest to return ancient bones and relics of Ken's te Aka ancestors that they uncovered in the vaults of an Australian University and return them back to their rightful resting place back on Banaba. At the same time, they have continued their search to find the missing ancestral skull of Te Aka's tribal leader which was stolen and sold off to what is believed an American museum collection in the 1930s. The Banabans believe that only after the skull is returned will the peace and prosperity of the people flourish.
The reason the te Aka people were able to maintain a veil of secrecy for centuries is because of the fear and superstitions surrounding their powers of sorcery. In the past to even mention the name ‘te Aka’ by those outside the tribe would bring about an instant curse. To talk about the te Aka people and their sacred village on Banaba people used the word – te Aonoanne, meaning ‘that place’. As other Pacific tribes invaded over the centuries, the te Aka held the high ground on the island and isolated themselves holding onto their ancient rites and powers of sun-worshipping. But in 1900 everything was to change when the white dust of the sacred land beneath their feet was found to be the richest deposits of phosphate ever discovered.
Ironically it was Ken’s te Aka great-great-grandfather that would be one of the unsuspecting Banaban elders to place his mark on complicated legal documents to mine their beloved homeland for the next 999 years. While Stacey’s Australian great-great-grandfather and his family would arrive to oversee the mining operations, that eighty years later would see the virtual destruction of not only an island but lead to the exile of its people.
The Banaban elders believe it is more than fate that brought this couple together nearly a century later with the forces and spiritual powers of both their ancestors combining to right the wrongs of the past. Their quest to return the spirits of the te Aka ancestors back to the soil of their beloved homeland is the catalyst for this amazing story… just like this unusual couple – one from a modern competitive western society which is more at odds with the environment and the other from a primitive civilization who is completely at one and attuned with the land and very nature itself.
Yet, against all odds and the diversity of two very different people and the worlds they come from, is the belief that together they can make a difference and save a race of people and their beloved homeland in an ever-changing world.
Co-authors: Raobeia Ken Sigrah and Stacey King
Te Rii ni Banaba - backbone of Banaba.
OTHER TITLES BY THE AUTHORS
Raobeia Ken Sigrah and Stacey M. King
Banaban Vision Publications
Non-Fiction Chapter in a book
The Banaba-Ocean Island chronicles private collections, indigenous record-keeping, fact, and fiction. Chapter 17, Hunting the collectors. Cambridge Scholars, UK.
Te Rii ni Banaba. First Edition: IPS, Suva, Fiji. 2001
Ebooks: Blend of history, biography and fictional reconstruction
Fiction Book / Ebook
Nakaa’s Awakening (Book 1. Land of Matang 4 book series) based on Stacey's family and their first arrival on Banaba (Ocean Island) in 1902. Published Banaban Vision Publications, Gold Coast, Australia 2020.
Articles and Presentations
Australia-Banaba Relations; the price of shaping a nation is now a call for recognition
Banaba-Ocean Island Chronicles: Private collections and indigenous record-keeping proving fact from fiction
Cultural Identity of Banabans
Legacy of a Miners Daughter and Assessment of the Social Changes of the Banabans after
Phosphate Mining on Banaba
Essentially Being Banaban in Today's World: The role of Banaban L