Kioa is an unusual place in that it was bought by the islanders of Tuvalu in 1947. Tuvalu Islands lie about 800 miles north of Fiji and are small (the biggest just 4 square miles), flat and very low-lying. The Tuvalans recognised that they were at risk of rising sea levels (and apparently today their airstrip gets flooded at high tides) so needed to be able to relocate some of their people; in 1947 a group of 31 islanders arrived at Kioa, which must have seemed like a huge, mountainous and fertile paradise and now around 300 people live in its single village.
The islanders, whilst being Fijian citizens, retain their Tuvalan culture and speak a mix of Fijian, Tuvalan and (thankfully) English. They are pretty much self-sufficient, fishing from traditional dug-out outrigger canoes (with small sails) and growing their own fruit and vegetables. They export Kava and the women make handicrafts which are sold to tourists in the mainland markets. However they welcome visitors and we went ashore to present our sevusevu to one of the village Councillors and were welcomed to the village.
|Maunie at anchor, local fishing canoe on beach|
|The Mission Statement|
|To fetch a pail of water...|
|The menfolk, ready to welcome visitors on the beach|
|A beautifully-make dug-out canoe|
We were lucky that a small tourist cruise boat was arriving in the afternoon and so a traditional dance had been arranged in the village hall. The councillor conspiratorially suggested we blend in, as best we could, behind the local in the hall so we got to see the event for free whilst the cruise boat visitors had paid for it. Here's a short video to give you an idea of the event. Video