Niutao Atoll, February 2001 - Primary school children.
Source: Peter Bennetts
Despite the bleak future, the Tuvalu government has implemented a National Adaptation Program of Action (NAPA). This consists of projects identified to alleviate the effects of climate change and rising sea levels. Although this initiative is very costly, to take no action and simply wait for the inevitable is more costly. The likely consequence for Tuvaluans, however, will be forced migration.
New Zealand has agreed to welcome 75 immigrants annually. In 2001, the Australian government was asked to consider accepting migrants from Tuvalu. It refused to commit to this request. Undoubtedly, the people of Tuvalu will come to depend on the generosity of world communities for their survival.
Under the banner 'Kaiga Tuvalu', a small community of about 100 gathers on Easter weekend and Independence Day. They have trickled into Australia over three decades and they gather to celebrate customs, such as preparing a communal feast and participating in traditional dance. Traditional costumes and regalia are worn on Independence Day, which is an opportunity for elders to remind younger generations about the need to maintain the cultural practices and language of their forebears.
Increasingly, these gatherings will be the only way Tuvaluans and their descendants will be able to recall, retell and experience the island nation that was once a place of beauty, serenity and peace - a place destroyed by severe natural forces provoked by man.