x
1 2 3 4 5

VSA in Kiribati

Flag of Kiribati

Our association with Kiribati (pronounced ‘kee-ree-bus’), dates back to 1967 when the first of 34 volunteers took up an assignment there. Our programme focuses on promoting sustainable economic and urban development and strengthening the public sector with volunteers working at the Kiribati Marine Training Centre on Tarawa, waste management and access to water on Kiritimati Island. The Kiribati programme is managed from our Wellington office.


Living and Working in Kiribati


Language and culture

English is sometimes spoken in Tarawa (less often in Kiritimati) and the language can be challenging. Learning some local words is important and is appreciated by the local community. On long-term assignments, we provide basic language training at the start of assignments with follow-ups if necessary during the assignment.

Kiribati has a strong oral history and culture and on every island you'll come across some families known for their story-telling skills. Most i-Kiribati believe their ancestors were spirits, some created in Samoa and others in Kiribati.

Housing and living conditions

We provide volunteers with basic, furnished accommodation. Kiribati has 24-hour power (through a diesel generator) although power outages are a regular occurrence. Volunteer housing has gas facilities for cooking. Kiribati has the same electrical plug socket and voltage as New Zealand. All water should be boiled or purified for consumption and volunteers are advised not to drink well water. Water bottles can be purchased for general consumption from stores in town.

There are many stray dogs in Kiribati, so if you do decide to walk on the streets do so during the day and walk with a stick to keep the dogs from attacking you. Bending down pretending to pick up a rock to throw is also a deterrent. Volunteers are not advised to walk around in the evenings alone.

Dress standards

We encourage our volunteers to dress conservatively.  Loose fitting, light, cotton clothing is best. Dresses, skirts and t-shirts are commonly worn (sleeveless is acceptable) but don't  expose skin above the knee, especially when attending traditional events. For men, choose long pants, knee-length shorts and short-sleeved shirts.

Safety

We provide all volunteers with a thorough security briefing prior to departure and specific local issues are covered during your in-country orientation.

Health

Precautionary measures are recommended, such as insect repellent and long sleeves/ trousers in the evening if outside and a mosquito net if you are staying in villages. Skin infections can develop quickly so keep a good supply of plasters, antibiotic cream and antibiotics. There is one main hospital on Tarawa and a private hospital with a general practitioner (GP) at The Marine Training Centre (MTC) in Betio. Volunteers are advised to use this GP. You are responsible for managing your own health while on assignment.

Banking and finances

Kiribati uses the Australian dollar (AUD). The ANZ Bank is the only international banking company in Kiribati with operating branches on South Tarawa and Kiritimati Island. On South Tarawa, ATMs are accessible at Betio, Bairiki, Bikenibeu ANZ bank branches and at the gate of Tungaru Central Hospital in Nawerewere. A visitor may carry up to $5000 cash when traveling to Kiribati. Major foreign currencies can be exchanged at the ANZ Bank. VISA & Master Cards are currently the only major credit cards accepted in Kiribati but you won't be able to use credit cards on outer islands. Western Union Money Transfer Agency has an international branch located in Betio, Bairiki, Abarao and Nawerewere on South Tarawa providing the quickest way to send and receive money.

Cell phones and email

There is only one cellular provider in Kiribati. Coverage is generally good within urban areas but fades quickly as you move to rural locations. Volunteers can purchase SIM cards and use a pre-paid package. Mobile phones in Kiribati can only contact mobile phones abroad that have SIM card accessibility. Phones cannot text internationally. Internet cafes are available in town but the connection can be slow.

Donate to VSA

It costs money to send volunteers overseas and every dollar you donate to VSA goes towards programmes that really do work.

Donate now!

Become a volunteer

Register with VSA to find out about new vacancies. Or if you are already registered, login to update your details.

Volunteer now!

In-country partner profile

Marine Training Centre

View Profile


View All

Meet Ryan Brown

An interview with Ryan Brown, Programme Manager (Polynesia)

Ryan is our Programme Manager for Polynesia.

Read more

Quick facts


  • Kiribati used to lie either side of the International Date Line, but the government moved the line eastwards in 1995 to ensure the day was the same in the whole country.

  • Kiribati is home to the South Pacific's largest marine reserve.

  • Kiribati is highly vulnerable to rising sea levels and global warming, and frequently lends its voice to calls for action on climate change.

  • Kiribati's major exports are copra, fish and seaweed. Previously, phosphate mines were a source of income, but have been depleted since the 1980s.

  • Kiribati has a Human Development Index rating of 133 (2014 UN Human Development Report).

  • The main currency is the Australian dollar, though the US dollar is sometimes also accepted.

  • Kiritimati is the world’s biggest coral atoll.

  • The Republic of Kiribati encompasses the Gilbert, Phoenix and Line Islands. It comprises just 810 square kilometres of land, but its 33 atolls span 3.5 million square kilometres of the Pacific.
Source: BBC country profile , Lonely Planet , UN Development Programme International human development indicators

See how this compares to NZ standards

NZ Quick Facts


  • New Zealand’s wildlife is dominated by an estimated 245 bird species. New Zealand has more flightless bird species than any other place on earth and no native land mammals except for bats.

  • Auckland is the biggest city. The other main centres are Hamilton, Wellington (the capital), Christchurch and Dunedin.

  • New Zealand has a Human Development Index rating of 6.

  • Polynesian settlers arrived in Aotearoa New Zealand around the 10th century. The first Europeans to visit the country were Dutch explorers led by Abel Tasman in 1642.

  • The Māori name for the country is Aotearoa: “land of the long white cloud.” The English name New Zealand comes from the Dutch Nieuw Zeeland, a region in the Netherlands.

  • In 1840 the Treaty of Waitangi established British law and government, and was followed by warfare in the 1840s and 1860s as Māori sought to defend their lands and local authority. The country became a dominion of Britain in 1907 and became independent in

  • The official languages are English, Maori and New Zealand Sign Language.

  • New Zealand has more than 50 volcanoes, some of which are still active.

  • New Zealand has about 0.1% of the world’s population, but produces about 0.3% of the world’s material output.

Contact

VSA, PO Box 12246, Wellington 6144, NEW ZEALAND



Val Duthie (Past volunteer)

VSA volunteer profiles

Val Duthie (Past volunteer) – English as a Second Language Trainer

Val Duthie was an English as a Second Language Trainer at the Marine Training Centre, Kiribati. She completed her assignment in May 2013. View Profile


View All

The Republic of Kiribati, formerly the Gilbert Islands, is located in Micronesia and made up of 32 atolls and one raised coral island: Kiritimati (Christmas) Island. Kiribati has just over 100,000 inhabitants, most living in densely populated areas. With an estimated 137 people per square kilometre, it has the largest sea-to-land ratio in the world. Approximately one-quarter of the population live in the capital, South Tarawa, on the atoll of Tarawa.

KIRI page pic 1

The mwaneaba (community house) is traditionally the centre of community life where community discussions, council meetings and celebrations take place and where important decisions are made. Christianity is the main religion although there are a number of people who practice the Baha’i faith.

 

What we’re doing in Kiribati

Kiribati is one of the least developed countries in the world, with few natural resources. The economy is dependent on development aid, overseas family remittances and fishing license fees. Economic development is constrained by a shortage of skilled workers, high unemployment, weak infrastructure, high population density in urban areas and geographical remoteness. Our Kiribati programme is focused on promoting sustainable economic and urban development and strengthening the public sector.

More than one fifth of the country’s GDP now comes from tourism (although the majority of the economy is based on a subsistence lifestyle with around 80 per cent of the population relying on fishing for their livelihood). Our volunteers on recent assignments have worked at the Kiribati Marine Training Centre (MTC) on Tarawa. The MTC prepares young i-Kiribati to become seafarers on foreign ships by providing training on shipping, first aid, survival, social studies, English and hospitality services, among other skills. This vocational training offers an opportunity for young people to find employment and generate an income for their families.

Read about how Val and Birnie’s work in the MTC helped a young man start his career.

 

KIRI page pic 2

Climate change is a major issue. Most of the country sits just one or two metres above sea level. Although health indicators have improved in recent years, Kiribati has the highest infant mortality rate in the Pacific. There is low life expectancy and a high incidence of nutrition-related non-communicable diseases. VSA’s work on water and waste management and is helping to create sustainable infrastructure for better public health.

Read Programme Officer Mike Lee’s blog about VSA's work on Kiritimati Island.

VSA’s work in Kiribati is a mixture of short-term assignments around technical and management advice such as engineering, and long-term assignments building skills and capacity such as English language skills.

 

 

Latest on Kiribati

Meet Kobebe and Taom, students at the Marine Training Centre

Meet Kobebe and Taom, students at the Marine Training Centre

I would like to introduce a few of our new MTC students. As I have explained be-fore, we have several groups. Read More


WASH for human rights
The MTC
Tarawa: an introduction

Living and Working in Kiribati


Language and culture

English is sometimes spoken in Tarawa (less often in Kiritimati) and the language can be challenging. Learning some local words is important and is appreciated by the local community. On long-term assignments, we provide basic language training at the start of assignments with follow-ups if necessary during the assignment.

Kiribati has a strong oral history and culture and on every island you'll come across some families known for their story-telling skills. Most i-Kiribati believe their ancestors were spirits, some created in Samoa and others in Kiribati.

Housing and living conditions

We provide volunteers with basic, furnished accommodation. Kiribati has 24-hour power (through a diesel generator) although power outages are a regular occurrence. Volunteer housing has gas facilities for cooking. Kiribati has the same electrical plug socket and voltage as New Zealand. All water should be boiled or purified for consumption and volunteers are advised not to drink well water. Water bottles can be purchased for general consumption from stores in town.

There are many stray dogs in Kiribati, so if you do decide to walk on the streets do so during the day and walk with a stick to keep the dogs from attacking you. Bending down pretending to pick up a rock to throw is also a deterrent. Volunteers are not advised to walk around in the evenings alone.

Dress standards

We encourage our volunteers to dress conservatively.  Loose fitting, light, cotton clothing is best. Dresses, skirts and t-shirts are commonly worn (sleeveless is acceptable) but don't  expose skin above the knee, especially when attending traditional events. For men, choose long pants, knee-length shorts and short-sleeved shirts.

Safety

We provide all volunteers with a thorough security briefing prior to departure and specific local issues are covered during your in-country orientation.

Health

Precautionary measures are recommended, such as insect repellent and long sleeves/ trousers in the evening if outside and a mosquito net if you are staying in villages. Skin infections can develop quickly so keep a good supply of plasters, antibiotic cream and antibiotics. There is one main hospital on Tarawa and a private hospital with a general practitioner (GP) at The Marine Training Centre (MTC) in Betio. Volunteers are advised to use this GP. You are responsible for managing your own health while on assignment.

Banking and finances

Kiribati uses the Australian dollar (AUD). The ANZ Bank is the only international banking company in Kiribati with operating branches on South Tarawa and Kiritimati Island. On South Tarawa, ATMs are accessible at Betio, Bairiki, Bikenibeu ANZ bank branches and at the gate of Tungaru Central Hospital in Nawerewere. A visitor may carry up to $5000 cash when traveling to Kiribati. Major foreign currencies can be exchanged at the ANZ Bank. VISA & Master Cards are currently the only major credit cards accepted in Kiribati but you won't be able to use credit cards on outer islands. Western Union Money Transfer Agency has an international branch located in Betio, Bairiki, Abarao and Nawerewere on South Tarawa providing the quickest way to send and receive money.

Cell phones and email

There is only one cellular provider in Kiribati. Coverage is generally good within urban areas but fades quickly as you move to rural locations. Volunteers can purchase SIM cards and use a pre-paid package. Mobile phones in Kiribati can only contact mobile phones abroad that have SIM card accessibility. Phones cannot text internationally. Internet cafes are available in town but the connection can be slow.

Living and Working in Kiribati
Language and culture

English is sometimes spoken in Tarawa (less often in Kiritimati) and the language can be challenging. Learning some local words is important and is appreciated by the local community. On long-term assignments, we provide basic language training at the start of assignments with follow-ups if necessary during the assignment.

Kiribati has a strong oral history and culture and on every island you'll come across some families known for their story-telling skills. Most i-Kiribati believe their ancestors were spirits, some created in Samoa and others in Kiribati.

Housing and living conditions

We provide volunteers with basic, furnished accommodation. Kiribati has 24-hour power (through a diesel generator) although power outages are a regular occurrence. Volunteer housing has gas facilities for cooking. Kiribati has the same electrical plug socket and voltage as New Zealand. All water should be boiled or purified for consumption and volunteers are advised not to drink well water. Water bottles can be purchased for general consumption from stores in town.

There are many stray dogs in Kiribati, so if you do decide to walk on the streets do so during the day and walk with a stick to keep the dogs from attacking you. Bending down pretending to pick up a rock to throw is also a deterrent. Volunteers are not advised to walk around in the evenings alone.

Dress standards

We encourage our volunteers to dress conservatively.  Loose fitting, light, cotton clothing is best. Dresses, skirts and t-shirts are commonly worn (sleeveless is acceptable) but don't  expose skin above the knee, especially when attending traditional events. For men, choose long pants, knee-length shorts and short-sleeved shirts.

Safety

We provide all volunteers with a thorough security briefing prior to departure and specific local issues are covered during your in-country orientation.

Health

Precautionary measures are recommended, such as insect repellent and long sleeves/ trousers in the evening if outside and a mosquito net if you are staying in villages. Skin infections can develop quickly so keep a good supply of plasters, antibiotic cream and antibiotics. There is one main hospital on Tarawa and a private hospital with a general practitioner (GP) at The Marine Training Centre (MTC) in Betio. Volunteers are advised to use this GP. You are responsible for managing your own health while on assignment.

Banking and finances

Kiribati uses the Australian dollar (AUD). The ANZ Bank is the only international banking company in Kiribati with operating branches on South Tarawa and Kiritimati Island. On South Tarawa, ATMs are accessible at Betio, Bairiki, Bikenibeu ANZ bank branches and at the gate of Tungaru Central Hospital in Nawerewere. A visitor may carry up to $5000 cash when traveling to Kiribati. Major foreign currencies can be exchanged at the ANZ Bank. VISA & Master Cards are currently the only major credit cards accepted in Kiribati but you won't be able to use credit cards on outer islands. Western Union Money Transfer Agency has an international branch located in Betio, Bairiki, Abarao and Nawerewere on South Tarawa providing the quickest way to send and receive money.

Cell phones and email

There is only one cellular provider in Kiribati. Coverage is generally good within urban areas but fades quickly as you move to rural locations. Volunteers can purchase SIM cards and use a pre-paid package. Mobile phones in Kiribati can only contact mobile phones abroad that have SIM card accessibility. Phones cannot text internationally. Internet cafes are available in town but the connection can be slow.