Project Banaba, by Banaban scholar and artist Katerina Teaiwa, explores how the island of Banaba was destroyed by phosphate mining during the 20th century, leading to the total relocation of its people on 15 December 1945.
Co-curated by Jess Mio and Yuki Kihara, this exhibition brings together rare historical archives and new work that sheds light on this little-known era of New Zealand’s history and its ongoing impact on communities here and across the Moana Pacific.
The British Phosphate Commissioners, owned collectively by the governments of Australia, New Zealand and Britain, mined Banaba from 1900 to 1980. The rock from the island was manufactured into superphosphate fertiliser and applied to farms across Australia and New Zealand.
This enabled the temporary expansion of the industrial agriculture industry, and ended thousands of years of continuous occupation on Banaba. The island was rendered uninhabitable and the Banabans moved to their new home on the island of Rabi in Fiji.
About the creator of Project Banaba:
Katerina Teaiwa (of Banaban, I-Kiribati and African American descent) is Associate Professor in Pacific Studies at the Australian National University, Canberra. She is the author of Consuming Ocean Island (2015), a definitive history of Banaba; and editor with Polly Stupples of Contemporary Perspectives on Art and International Development (2016). Katerina has a background in contemporary Pacific dance and was a founding member of the Oceania Dance Theatre in Fiji.
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