Niulakita Atoll, December 2000 - Church interior. The church bell was acquired from a ship and turned out to be too heavy to lift into the tiny tower, so it's housed in a nearby shelter.
Source: Peter Bennetts
Tuvalu became an independent nation in October 1978. Independence means no other country is obligated to assist Tuvalu at times of great challenge, as it is now facing through threats associated with climate change.
The Ellice Islands became a British protectorate in 1892, following the imperial division of much of the western and central Pacific by Britain and Germany. In 1916, the protectorate gained the status of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands Colony. In 1974, Ellice Islanders voted in a referendum for separation from the Gilbert Islands which was officially achieved the following year.
In 1861, a London Missionary Society group from the Cook Islands was shipwrecked in the Ellice Islands. The group introduced Christianity to the islanders, with missionaries from Samoa arriving in 1865. As Christian beliefs became integrated into the way of life, islanders continued to live simply and peacefully. Births, deaths and other traditions were rarely recorded, except for in Church registers, which now serve as archives for family history.
Today 97 per cent of Tuvaluans are Christian. The church and falekapaule are the most important buildings on each island of Tuvalu. The falekapaule is a communal building where guests are received and ceremonial functions are held. It is here that issues of individual islands are discussed and submitted to the Tuvalu government for consideration and approval.