Banaba in the central Pacific is a microcosm of what has happened to this planet. It’s a place that cannot be brought back into balance without focused and collaborative care
- Before it is lost is series of essays from the Pacific islands
Some years ago, an Australian friend gave me a necklace with a beautiful and distinct pendant.
The pendant had been in Helen Pilkinton’s family for decades and there were two more from a set of three that were given to each of her sisters.
It was made from a phosphate rock brought back from my homeland of Banaba – an island in the central Pacific about 3,000km from Australia –by her parents in 1935. It came from an ancestral place that many in Kiribati and Fiji understand to be taboo and haunted.
Dozens of Australian families have jewellery and decorations similarly made out of Banaban rock. They never appear in op shops or online marketplaces. They are passed down along with family stories of a distant life on a tropical island in the centre of the Pacific.