A Wellington brother and sister will celebrate their graduations from university over the next month, in a rare occasion for their small ethnic community.
Quentin Smith, aged 26, graduated from Massey University with a degree in Bachelor of Business Studies (Information Systems) this November and this month, his sister Tracy Smith, aged 24, will graduate from Victoria University of Wellington with a degree in Bachelor of Commerce & Administration (Accounting/Economics).
The Smith siblings trace their ancestry to the island of Banaba or Ocean Island in the Central Pacific nation of Kiribati. Between 1900 and 1978, the phosphate rich soil of Banaba was mined and over 20 million tones carted overseas to fertilize the agricultural fields of New Zealand and Australia.
After World War II the Banabans were resettled to the island of Rabi in Fiji. Their resettlement is commemorated annually on December 15th. However, today the Banabans are a people with some of the worst socio-economic profiles in the Pacific.
Quentin and Tracy are nevertheless proud of their Banaban heritage, and both plan to contribute to the development of their small migrant community here in Wellington as well as their communities back on Rabi and Banaba.
The brother and sister worked part-time while studying at university. Quentin would like to pursue a career in Information Systems and Tracy hopes to become a Chartered Accountant.
The siblings attribute their academic success to the solid work ethic instilled in them by their mother, Julia Teiannang, and the loving support of their extended family.
As the 40-strong community of Banabans in Wellington gather together for their December 15th celebrations this year, they will be filled with thanksgiving and great hopes for their future.
Source: Wellington Banaba Rabi Association