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Te Rii ni Banaba - backbone of Banaba, is a history of Banaba, situated in the Central Pacific, once known as Ocean Island. By recording genealogies, myths, legends, customs, culture, magic rituals and the long-kept secrets of the te Aka clan reveals the uniqueness of Banaban identity. The arrival of the I-Matang (Europeans), beachcombers, blackbirders, whalers, missionaries, and the miners in 1900, with the discovery of phosphate (guano) and a heartbreaking trail of loss, exploitation and environmental degradation from mining. The toll of World War II atrocities suffered during the Japanese invasion, and the subsequent forced exile of the Banabans from their homeland. The recorded names of those tragically killed on Banaba during the War and displaced Banaban survivors who were exiled on Rabi, Fiji in 1945.

This second edition includes additional photographs, the discovery of the missing link of the Toakira, the search for Teimanaia's skull, identification of the landowners from the first agreements in 1900, and insights into the famous 1975 Banaban Court Case. It also provides details of villages lost to mining for future generations to trace their genealogies and land rights. Although remote and now decimated by mining, Banaba remains in the hearts of all Banabans.

Te Rii ni Banaba - backbone of Banaba, offers not only traditional knowledge and historical research but also the authors commitment to save the remaining evidence of the old Banaba. The book is essential reading for Banabans, and for a broader audience keen to learn more about migrations, environment, human rights and the fate of an indigenous people in the modern world.


Raobeia Ken Sigrah - More Information

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Stacey M. King - More Information​​​​​​​

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Te Rii ni Banaba - backbone of Banaba (EBOOK)

SKU: 978-0-6485462-0-7

    A definitive account of the traditions, history and plight of the Banaban people

    I had the privilege of visiting Banaba in 1997 on the Homecoming trip organised by Stacey King and Ken Sigrah. I made a BBC documentary about the visit for the Open University - I'm grateful that my film is generously mentioned in this book.
    Making the documentary obviously involved learning about the Banaban story. I came away with (I think) a pretty good understanding of the way phosphate mining wrecked the island, and lead, after WW2 to the Banabans being removed to Rabi Island in Fiji, 2000 miles away. This book adds so much to what I learned then!
    It covers all aspects of the ancient and modern history, traditions and present day state of the Banaban people. It is dedicated to future generations of Banabans in the hope that they will want to know about their peoples' and their island's past while, in all probability, blending more and more with the world directly around them in their Fijian exile.
    Banabans know that they are a people distinct from the Kiribati to whose country the island of Banaba is now assigned, and from the Fijians in whose country most Banabans now live. But this knowledge has often been challenged: this book sets out, inter alia, to present and prove the case for Banaban distinctiveness. Much of the argument centres on the culture of the indigenous people of the island - Ken Sigrah is descended from them.
    The book is detailed, thorough and passionate. I highly recommend it for anyone who wants to know about the Banabans. It is also a fine study of the horrendous local consequences of British (Australian, New Zealand) imperialism and economic exploitation.
    I read the Kindle version. It would benefit from some further copy editing to iron out a few presentational glitches, but these in no way detract from the power and fascination of this book.

    Jeremy Cooper, United Kingdom on April 13, 2020


    Te Rii ni Banaba - backbone of Banaba

    "Thank you both for keeping it alive for our young generation to feel and understand the sufferings, frustrations, anger and fights our ancestors had gone through many years back for our beloved Island. It is indeed a sad story.

    How on earth some richest countries were so unfair and inhuman to our people by destroying us and the beauty of our Island."

    GIGI UEKAM, Young Banaban, Kiribati


    Te Rii ni Banaba (2nd edition)

    5.0 out of 5 stars Great collection of archival research and traditional history.  Amazon Reviewed in the United States on January 22, 2020

    This book is a great introduction to Banaban culture and history. Sigrah and King weave traditional history with archival research in a format that's accessible and interesting. A must-read for anyone interested in Oceanic cultures & history, especially those affected by mining operations and displacement during the colonial era.

    Janice L. Cantieri Environmental journalist, USA.


    Te Rii ni Banaba - backbone of Banaba

    “Includes lots of historical photos, myths and legends. It suits Banabans of all age groups. Thanks for your excellent research and efforts”.

    Taake Tawita, Banaban, Fiji


    Excellent study; very well-written!

    Associate Professor, Grant McCall, NSW Australia.



  • Digital Terms and Conditions

    Te Rii ni Banaba – Backbone of Banaba Copyright © Raobeia Ken Sigrah and Stacey King.  All rights reserved.

    Banaban Vision Publications.

    This book may not be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means including information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing form the authors. The only exception is by a reviewer who may quote short excerpts in a review.

    First published 2001

    Institute of Pacific Studies, University of the South Pacific, Fiji 2001.

    Cover designed by Stacey King

    This book is a second revised edition of the history of the Banabans from an indigenous perspective. Cultural information contained in this book is endorsed by Banaban Clan elders involved in this history. The authors have provided information sourced from original documents, photographs and interviews either owned or kindly donated to the authors. All other reference material has been sourced as quoted.  Internal diagrams were created and/or supplied by the authors.

For any media inquiries, please contact:

Tel: +61 475 288 385

Banaban Vision Publications

PO Box 6

Runaway Bay  Qld 4216 Australia

© 1993 Raobeia Ken Sigrah and Stacey M. King