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23 / 11 / 12 - 09 : 31

22 / 11 / 12 - 11 : 15

I went to TMTI today – Leota and everyone are in good health and spitits and cant wait to start with projects again…

They are very enthusiastic. All the equipment is there, but I haven’t seen it up and running. Leota is going to put it on display (a new battery is needed for the scooter it is running but only gets from the main entrance to the diesel shed before running flat out of power!!). He is also going to put the spare part into the fuelpod.

He is happy that the gassifier is OK and they have also painted it and are looking after it well. TMTI has also bought a new compressor for the gassifier.
So all is ok and appears to be on track. I think one of the issues has been high turn over of staff – as well as other staffing issues… I am all for doing RE demos on the outer islands.
Cheers, Sx

21 / 11 / 12 - 18 : 00

Still here - leave next week... Its all Fun Fun Fun!!
And yes!! We can fund more digesters. I think that this would run more smoothly now...
The folk from Nanumea have asked for more digesters at the workshop we just had - which was great - and one guy from the community in Nanumea also presented his experience with the project which was fantastic!!
We could also look at grants for the Biodiesel Awareness in outer islands...
Cheers, Sx

20 / 11 / 12 - 18 : 00

Hi Gilliane,
I am loving being back in Tuvalu (for me it’ been almost exactly 2 years since my last visit) and I am really missing you guys not being here!!
Alofa Tuvalu has really planted seeds – there are now 2 plans like we spoke of : 1 for an energy efficiency house and another for an “eco-house”… As well as the big national renewable energy plan…
I have already met with Risasi (Alofa Tuvalu Treasurer) at the hotel, but will pop over and see her again and ask her to drop you an email…
I have not caught up with Nala (Alofa Tuvalu Patron) yet – will go and see her this afternoon.
Hugs, Sx

13 / 11 / 12 - 18 : 00

“Hi, I am back in Tuvalu (since last Thursday) and helping Teu out with a National Adaptation Wkshop…. Difference here is that Tuvaluan’s are delivering the messages (its 9pm, we have been going since 9am and there are still over 60 people here!)… and we have brought people in from communities on outer islands as they are the ones who will be implementing the activities we will be developing under this project. Molipi has the floor now and he is talking about energy use… and yes!! Internet connection from inside the Funafuti maniapa!!
Alofa Tuvalu is very much in everyone’s minds and I must have been asked at least 100 times today where you guys are and when are you going to be visiting again!!
John (Alpha Pacific Navigation manager and Alofa Tuvalu counterpart) is in Australia but Eti (Alofa Tuvalu Vice-President) is here, doing fine and has changed his name to Eddie!!
Anyway, hope everything is ok..
Cheers, Sarah”

12 / 11 / 12 - 18 : 00

23 / 10 / 12 - 18 : 00

22 / 10 / 12 - 13 : 57

22 / 10 / 12 - 13 : 49

Vendredi 19 Octobre : 19h00 // Ciné-Débat au Cinéma « Ciné Islais » de l'Ile d'Yeu, Gratuit

Projection du Film "Nuages au Paradis", réalisé par Gilliane Le Gallic et Christopher Horner (ETC, 2004) suivi d'un débat avec Fanny Héros, Chargée de mission à l’association Alofa Tuvalu ainsi qu’un conseiller de l’Espace Info Energie.

plus d'infos sur la Fête de l'Energie

13 / 10 / 12 - 17 : 49

27 / 09 / 12 - 12 : 09


The day has dawned bright and clear, a good day for farewelling William and Kate. Let’s hope it remains that way; yesterday started like this too but turned rainy. Today there will be less opportunity for that because the Royal Couple will be departing soon.

I hope they slept well in the house loaned by the Australian Defence Force Advisers. It’s very comfortably furnished and its location is idyllic, right on the edge of the lagoon. The island at this point is narrow. A good golfer would be able to hit a ball from the lagoon beach right across the island to the ocean beach in one stroke. The Governor General’s residence and the Prime Minister’s residence are also in this area, comprising a thin string of housing along the lagoon edge with the airport runway right alongside.

As their jet came in to land at Funafuti yesterday William and Kate were probably thinking ‘where is this island’? That question goes through most people’s minds the first time they come. One can feel the plane reducing altitude, down, down, down, but no land visible either side. The plane banks right and islands come distantly into view to the left. Flaps being adjusted, landing gear whining down, all the usual noises of an approach to landing but still not much indication of land. Plane now so low it’s easy to see individual wave crests. Then flashing past the windows a series of tiny islets – none big enough to land on. One can see the connection between them underwater; it’s the rim of what was a volcano, aeons ago. Now low enough to see individual coconuts on the palm trees but below the plane is still only sea. Suddenly, palm trees pop up on both sides and almost instantly there’s the bump as the plane touches down on the runway. It’s an exciting landing and I never tire of it. Then there’s the shock of heat as the plane door is opened and the tropical air rushes in, and one realizes ‘we have arrived at the World’s most remote capital city’.

Well that was yesterday’s experience for William and Kate. Today, Eti and I will go down to the airport for the farewell ceremony.

Today we can be attired less formally – still with traditional Tuvaluan flower headband, neck decoration and colourful skirt, but with a casual, Fijian-style ‘Bula’ shirt. On our feet just sandals; the black leather shoes have been put away until next year’s Queen’s Birthday honours ceremony. We ride on Eti’s motorbike, our pandanus leaf decorations trailing behind us in the wind. We ride along the runway perimeter road. The plane is still parked where it stopped the day before, turbines now gently hissing in anticipation of its Royal cargo.

Oh, we have arrived rather later than we should. The Royal Couple are already seated in the maneaba and are being regaled by very stirring singing and dancing. On a table in front of them is a model of a traditional Tuvaluan house, intricately woven from pandanus leaf.

It’s the biggest such model I have ever seen. It’s evidently a present. If it’s to go on the plane someone is going to be working very fast to box it up when the Couple go to the plane.

The Governor General Sir Iakoba Italeli Taeia and his wife Koling are seated to right of the Royal Couple. Prime Minister Willy Telavi and his wife Seinati are seated on their left. Foreign Minister Apisai Ielemia and his wife Nala are there too and other members of Parliament and just about everybody who is anybody. I must remember to congratulate Apisai on the good organizing of his Permanent Secretary and the team at Foreign Affairs.

Kate has her hair down today, as she did at the fatele last night. She looks more familiar that way; that’s how she usually appears when we see her on TV. I’m not close enough to see exactly what the pattern is on her dress but it is a floral design, very different to the pattern of the Tuvaluan ladies’ dresses but very much in keeping with them. Different but complementary, somebody has chosen well. Perhaps Mummy-in-law had some hand in it. No doubt there will be quite a difference too in what she paid for her dress – perhaps a hundred times more than the local price of dresses! The dress is above knee. Last night she wore a long flowing dress. William is wearing much the same as yesterday, plain blazer and open-necked white shirt. That in itself is a fashion statement. He looks relaxed.

The Prime Minster makes a speech, appropriate and brief. The President of the Tuvalu Church offers a prayer of thanks to the Almighty and asks His protection for the Royal Couple. Then it’s time to go.

William and Kate are tall and easy to see. They move outside and board their special vehicle, the ‘mini-maneaba’; the bearers raise it to their shoulders. The Police Honour Guard makes a Royal Salute, with great precision; the Royals move forward preceded by a big choir of young ladies singing merrily. The official party melds in behind the Royal vehicle and follow it to the plane, an avenue of schoolchildren clapping on either side.

The populous moves onto the grassy area alongside the runway. This must be one of the few international airports in the World where that would be permitted, and in truth it is not usual here either, but it is possible because the runway is not fenced and is only a ‘runway’ for a few minutes per week. The rest of the time it is a walking and running track, a place for volleyball and soccer, at night a place to study the stars and a cool place to sleep.

The Couple reaches the plane and the bearers lower the mini-maneaba. It has fulfilled its task. The bearers will be able to tell their grandchildren ‘I carried the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge way back in 2012! There are some final farewells from the official party and Kate walks up the aircraft stairs, pausing to make a very bold and happy wave to everyone, which is responded by a thousand waves. William follows and does the same, but he didn’t get so many return waves as Kate. She is on the way to becoming a star.

The door closes and we are all ushered back to beyond the airport perimeter road, but that is still close to the runway. So now it’s time for the Couple to go. There is always excitement at the airport when a plane lands and takes off – even if it’s just the turbo-prop from Fiji twice a week. This is the first Royal visit by plane so it’s extra special. It’s lovely that people can be so close to planes, but it is necessarily so because the island is only four hundred metres wide at this point and that’s its widest.

The plane starts to move forward. A dog decides to show interest in another dog; they run onto the grass. A thousand throats hiss at them – a reaction they have never experienced before. Wisely, nobody gives chase, which would have frightened them towards the aircraft. A policeman waves at the dogs; remarkably they obey and leave the area. In Tuvalu even the dogs are law-abiding. The plane passes us, nice and slowly. We all wave frantically and everyone on the plane does likewise. We can’t see which is Kate and which is William, but anyway they’re surely at one of the windows.

The wind is light and the direction a little unusual, more or less straight across the runway. So the pilot chooses to taxi all the way to the northern end and take off heading south. As he taxis, a dog nonchalantly crosses the runway behind the plane. The dog-chaser vehicle speeds after it. The dog gets the message and disappears towards the beach.

The plane turns, immediately winds up its jets to full power, and comes thundering down the runway. It is airborne before it gets to where we are all standing; it needed only half the runway length. The jet engines are huge, as though taken from a larger plane. A blast of hot jet air and dust sweeps over us and we are all forced to turn away momentarily. Then the plane is soaring up into the sky, banking right, setting course for Brisbane where the Couple will transfer to a scheduled flight.

I find myself talking to one of Royal staffers who has been left behind to travel on tomorrow’s regular plane. She says William and Kate told her last night their visit to Tuvalu has been the absolute highlight of their Tour.


I am so thrilled that I was able to be a part of this historic event.

Best regards, John

19 / 09 / 12 - 14 : 17

Well finally the fatele has finished and poor W & K are being allowed some rest. What a day! I’m told the kids at Nauti Primary school put on a spectacular display this afternoon too. 600 kids singing in harmony and making those special shrieks of delight that are just pure exuberance.

I’m told William made a speech this evening (I guess at the feast) in which he mentioned that he had particularly wanted to have Tuvalu on his visit list because of what his grandmother had told him about her visit thirty years ago. She had described Tuvalu as the ‘most iconic place she had ever visited’. Well there you have it, straight from the horse’s mouth, oops the Queen’s mouth.

So that’s it for tonight. I believe there will be a bit of ceremony tomorrow morning farewelling the Couple and then they’ll be ‘up, up and away’ in their silver jet – said to be the biggest jet to have landed at Funafuti Airport.

So that’s me signing off for tonight. Bye. J

18 / 09 / 12 - 15 : 40

Well I said I had finished but I have to resume. The fatele is fantastic. All the usual colour and movement and harmony and gaiety, and the biggest crowd outside the maneaba that I have ever seen – ten or more deep all the way round. I was in two minds whether to go to the fatele but I’m glad I did. More to follow, must rush back…..

STOP PRESS – Kate is dancing. Seinati (PM’s wife) evidently suggested that Kate join her and her island community. Kate agreed. What a hot. It was exactly what people were hoping would happen. Kate is dancing pretty well too – well perhaps not to a trained Tuvaluan eye but I’ve seen lots of fatele and I can tell you she’s holding her own nicely. Anyway, the important thing is that she got up and joined in. She’s a hit. This fatele isn’t going to end any time soon. Must rush back.

STOP PRESS AGAIN – William is up too, not dancing but at least dispensing shots of perfume (a Tuvaluan tradition) to the dancers and singers. This has gone down very, very well. The GG can report back to QE2 that the Royal Couple did well…..

AH, now WILLIAM IS DANCING. Oh, everyone is so excited about that (including me). There must be a thousand people down at the maneapa, everyone beaming smiles and thoroughly enjoying themselves. Not a drop of liquor in sight but everyone intoxicated on the excitement. Must go back…

18 / 09 / 12 - 15 : 39

I forgot to mention that the mini-maneaba (the one on the truck) wasn’t used because of the rain. The Couple are travelling in a regular vehicle instead (there were contingency plans for wet weather). Charles the Architect who lives next door to me is lamenting that Public Works Department put such a lot of time and effort into making the conveyance and now it won’t be used at all. Never mind, some other use will be found.

The visit to Nauti Primary School is taking much longer than I expected.

I’m a bit tired of standing by the roadside waiting so I have come indoors to make a cup of tea. There’s a big group of people down the road near the Queen’s coconut tree but I think I’ll stay at my place (200 metres from the tree) so I can wave my union flag in front of our office – not that a union flag has any connection with our office of course but I don’t think it would be considered good form if I waved a German flag. I might get away with waving an Australian flag but the office doesn’t have any connection with Australia either, other than through me.

So I boiled my water and then found I hadn’t emptied the tea leaves from my previous pot of tea. I went outside to dump the tea leaves in the garden as I always do (environmentally sound practice I believe) but just at that moment I saw William and Kate’s entourage approaching. There was no time to put down the teapot so I just waved it at the Royal Couple. They probably thought I was inviting them for a cup of tea! I would have happily done so of course but they both smiled at me and continued on their way. I have entertained three ambassadors (simultaneously)(British, Australian and New Zealand) at my house and three or four others at odd times (Canadian, Belgian, Taiwanese) but never a prince and a duchess. Well, maybe next time they stop by.

Fortunately the weather has improved and they were able to change over to the mini-maneaba. So it got its use after all. Our road is narrow and I was standing right on its edge and had a good glimpse of the Royal Couple. They looked as good in real life as one sees them on TV, William looking gracious and regal, Kate looking radiant and relaxed. It will take time before she gets that ‘star quality’ that Princess Diana had but Kate is getting there.

Willy and Seinati (the PM and his wife) were following in their car, both beaming smiles from ear to ear, and rightly so. Now the Couple are at the hotel for their coconut drink and to watch the canoe racing. During the day the wind has increased, as it often does on rainy days. The lagoon is quite rough so it will be interesting to see how they go. For those reading who aren’t familiar with Funafuti Lagoon it’s no little pond, it’s about 15 kilometres wide and about twice that in length. When it’s rough on the lagoon it isn’t much different to being rough on the ocean.

I forgot to look at the beach while the tide was low this morning. From what I can see of it now the sand removed yesterday has not made any significant difference. After today’s wind and waves one probably won’t even be able to see where the sand was taken from.

Evidently today’s programme had to be adjusted to fit with the weather. How different it is this year compared to same time last year. Now we have too much rain; last year we were suffering a drought and Willy had to declare a state of emergency so that New Zealand Red Cross and New Zealand Military could start airlifting desalination plants in C-130 cargo transports.

The canoe racing is over and one of the canoes is being taken out of the water on our office ramp. Daylight will start to fade soon and it will be dark in half an hour. The Couple aren’t going to have much of a rest after they get to their accommodation, and they still have to visit the ‘Tuvalu Village’ beforehand.

I think after they’ve been feasted and toasted tonight there will be a fatele (dancing/singing). I may go and watch that if there’s no rain but it depends on my email load. Having been out of the office all afternoon I can see there are 19 messages waiting now, and likely more during the evening.

So that’s pretty much the end of my narrative except to summarize. It has been a unique day, long and carefully planned and well conducted. The weather posed some problems but they were overcome. I’m sure it will have been a memorable visit for the Royal Couple, and it certainly has been for all of us at Funafuti.

When I was a schoolboy and aspiring to become a seafarer my imagination was fired by a book I read (“A Pattern of Islands”) that concerned the experiences of a British colonial administrator in this area before the First World War. I never seriously thought I would ever visit Funafuti, still less that I would live here, and certainly not that I would be here for a royal visit – only the third such visit ever.

So as the sun sinks below the horizon (though blocked by rainclouds) I will say farewell from fair Funafuti.

Best regards, John

18 / 09 / 12 - 09 : 14

Rain started again, not really heavily but enough to spoil the proceedings. 1400 hours came and went and no sign of the aircraft. I don’t know what time it arrived (I don’t wear a watch in Tuvalu) but I guess about 1430. Perhaps that was always the intended time and we were just told it was 1400 to ensure we turned up on time. The extra time was fortuitous because the rain gradually subsided and stopped completely as the Royal jet (a Vista Jet) hove into view over the southern end of the atoll.

There was a strong breeze blowing and the plane was angled considerably to its right as it approached, then straightened up just before touchdown. A neat manoeuvre, as one would expect. It touched down about the normal place and roared past the assembled throng but stopped in much less length than our regular turboprops planes. A big plane, big jets, big stopping power to match. A quick turnaround, back down past us and another turnaround, as planned. There was a man waving table tennis bats (or whatever those things are called) to indicate where the plane should stop.

Very soon the door opened and out came the press contingent. Then a long wait and suddenly out popped William with Kate close behind. She in a beige coloured dress, above knee, her hair in a little bun – very different to the pictures we have seen of her in other countries on this tour. It’s good that she is being different for Tuvalu. William wearing a blazer and open-necked shirt.

The micro-maneaba came to meet them and they were carried away with a preceding escort of young ladies dancing and singing, while the school students formed lines on either side and waved union flags. The conveyance stopped at the dais in front of the flags – one the Tuvaluan national flag, the other apparently the standard of the Duke of Cambridge - a harp, some lions, not unlike the royal standard but with a white key across the top (must look that up).

I was standing about fifty metres off – as most onlookers were. The wind was still quite strong and carried away most of the sound. We did hear the British and Tuvaluan national anthems, and I could vaguely hear the Reverend Falani saying a prayer. His voice would normally carry clearly beyond fifty metres but not with today’s wind.

The Governor General and his lady met the Royal Couple and then there were the expected presentations of the community leaders and their spouses. The Royal Couple did what we have seen royals do so often before, pausing here and there to chat and then moving on.

Into the maneaba and a brief fatele presented by the Funafuti community. Somebody had choreographed the dancing very well, as always happens. They dancers did something I have never seen before. At the end of the singing/dancing, as the drumming reach its inevitable crescendo, all the dancers in unison made three leaps forward ending close to the Royal Couple and raised their right arms in a very military salute.

Well done Funafuti, I say!

Then the Couple boarded their vehicle for the island tour, and that’s the point we have reached now. Unfortunately it is raining again and the sky is totally overcast and grey. It won’t entirely spoil the day because the main part is over now and most other activities will be indoor.

So now I must go outside because the mini-maneaba will come past very soon.

Bye for now. Tofa! John

18 / 09 / 12 - 06 : 49

Five minutes to go. Eti arrived. RAIN STOPPED!!! We’re going to wear the full regalia. J

18 / 09 / 12 - 06 : 47

Fifteen minutes to go. I’m still waiting for Eti. Lucky the airport is so close. The rain is still falling, not really heavy now but enough to soak everyone and make a mess of the planned outdoor activities. What a great shame. Still, it could change in a moment. It’s hard to predict from one moment to another here. We could have bright sunshine in ten minutes. Here’s hoping! The ten minute siren should be sounding soon. Of course no persons need to be told there’s a plane arriving but we have to give our dogs and pigs due notice. Bye for now. J

18 / 09 / 12 - 06 : 45

Thirty minutes to go. Still raining, though less hard. If we get a heavy shower passing over at 1400 the Royal plane may have to go round and make another approach. OK, I am wearing my fou (floral headdress). I’m just waiting for Eti and we’ll then walk down to the airport. Our traditional dresses have been specially commissioned by Dinah and Sina. They have the three Ahrenkiel fishes. Very creative design. Right, time to go, fingers crossed for no more rain. Otherwise we will leave the dresses behind and we’ll put them on when we come back to the office prior to go out and lining the street as the Couple pass our office on the way to the Queen’s Palm Tree.
Bye for now. Wish us luck! John.

18 / 09 / 12 - 06 : 42

OH DEAR – one hour to go and heavy rain falling!!!!!!!!!!!!

We won’t be able to wear our traditional costumes because the dye will run.

Fingers crossed that the rain will pass in a few minutes.


17 / 09 / 12 - 18 : 00

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