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 and we recommend volunteers take care when around them. Volunteers are not advised to walk around in the evenings alone.
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.
We provide all volunteers with a thorough security briefing prior to departure and specific local issues are covered during your in-country orientation.
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.
There is one main bank in Kiribati (ANZ) with services available on South Tarawa and Kiritimati Island. Money transfers are possible between Outer Islands.
Communications and Connectivity
Internet and telecommunication services in Kiribati are generally good with 4G coverage in most parts of South Tarawa. There are two main mobile network service providers with several smaller internet service providers. Coverage includes the outer Islands. International connections are usually reliable. Subscribing to a plan or bundle is a good way to use the different services and maximise value-for-money. There is a pay TV service providing local and international content.