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09 / 05 / 12 - 10 : 48

Samedi, Cyril Josset, Secrétaire Général d’Alofa Tuvalu, était invité par Tine, l’Ambassadeur de Tuvalu à Bruxelles et son épouse Lilian, à participer à une après-midi de collecte de fonds en faveur des victimes des inondations dévastatrices à Fidji.

Au retour Cyril écrit : “ Chères Amies, ce fut d’abord un spectacle de danse très agréable à voir, un peu dans le style des danses hawaïennes et tahitiennes puis une dégustation de mets locaux…, je crois bien que c’est la première fois que j’ai mangé du tapioca, et peut-être aussi la dernière !!! Au final, € 8000 ont été récoltés pour FIDJI…”

08 / 05 / 12 - 18 : 00

We just returned from the neighbourhood yardsale. From a very early hour of the morning it is not my type .. mainly on Sunday. It was also very cold in the shade but the day was nice. Since last year we do a Tuvalu small exhibit and distribute comic books. Today we even gave a few spanish and german versions. We are also taking the opportunity to give away stuff stored in the garage for years and that I‘m unable to throw... I hardly throw anything and preferred for example, to move from my last apartment stupid stuff like "snow glass balls" from everywhere in the world without water anymore in them :). Almost everything at home is recycled or composted or… reused... It was very pleasing that our "trash" can be of use to others and very rewarding to see children putting their nose into the Comic.

Fanny yesterday was at another event, a "book market" this time with an educational network. A long week end.

Tuesday we are also participating to a conference about The next Earth Summit, 40 years after the 1st one in Stockholm. To show my pessimistic view about these meetings (like the “day of this” or that, there are several international meetings each DAY now), rather than blablabing, I'll show one of Laure satirical/cynical chronicles, about the last Durban Climate Meeting . It is 1mn and although in French, some of you might get it. She does these regularly now on internet. I love it but no TV would take it. Too scary for TV management, still questioning whether humans is doing anything wrong to the environment.

The invitation for the conference says that we are going to show exclusive pictures from Tuvalu. I was at first thinking to play the 2006 king tides pictures 4mn clip. Some extracts have been seen before but never as a clip. Finally last night I decided to quickly edit our Funafuti young neighbours singing “I wish you a merry Xmas” under our balcony and will probably announce our next documentary with children.


07 / 05 / 12 - 18 : 00

29 / 04 / 12 - 08 : 58

28 / 04 / 12 - 18 : 00

“Commemorating the life and loss of Herbert George Hensford”, by John Hensford, Alpha Pacific Navigation General Manager and Alofa Tuvalu counterpart in Tuvalu.

On Saturday April 14th we’ll mark the centenary of the foundering of “Titanic”, in which my uncle was a crewmember. Poor Uncle Herbert, only 28 years old and married only a few weeks before he joined the ship! If I have my facts right the ship sank at 0220 hours, which will be 1720 hours here. We’ll mark that moment with a minute’s silence followed by a toast.

I’ll bet there’s no other crewmember of “Titanic” who is having a commemoration attended by the Prime Minister ; the Deputy Prime Minister & Minister for Communications, Transport & Public Utilities; the Minister for Finance; the Minister for Health; and the Secretary to Government (head of the Civil Service).

The only reason for non-attendance of the Governor General; the Speaker of Parliament; the Minister for Education, Youth & Sport; the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Environment, Trade, Labour and Tourism; and the Minister for Home Affairs is that they are off-island at present. They will be disappointed to have missed it as they are all friends to me and my work colleague. Anyway, to have acceptances from the PM, the Deputy PM and two other Ministers and the head of the civil service is a pretty big score. They’re all friends to us too.

I originally had in mind a modest function with just work colleagues and a few others but it has ‘grown’. We used to have a reputation for great parties with tasty food and lively entertainment but we haven’t had one for years now because of the economic problems impacting the shipping industry. So when news got out about our party lots of people were stopping my colleague in the street and asking if they could come too. How could he say no?

I’ve just been to our local shops to see what ‘goodies’ they could supply us. Quite a good selection, including T-bone steak, which I have never seen here before, and Brussels sprouts (joy oh joy, my favourite vegetable) which I also have never seen here before. We’ve got people working on special local coconut dishes. I’ve got shellfish in my freezer that were gathered from the reef last week by my neighbours. An Australian couple are making a confectionery dish of some sort that was mentioned on the “Titanic” first class menu. We have a South African yachting couple passing through and the wife makes absolutely the best black bread I have ever tasted (if she brings some I might hide it). Most important of all we’ve got a boat outside the reef tuna fishing and another one on the lagoon with crack spearfishermen chasing reef fish (rainbow runners, red emperor, or dozens other varieties) and a team is going out on the reef after dark tonight to catch lobsters (easy to cook, two minutes in steam). We won’t end up with the exotic fare that the first class passengers of “Titanic” enjoyed but it will better tucker than the crew had.

We have a few ministers of the other kind also coming – at least one from the Tuvalu Church (basically Congregational), one from the Catholic Church and two young guys from Latter Day Saints. I expect the senior of them (probably the one from Tuvalu Church) will offer a prayer though I haven’t arranged it. At the very least one will say grace before the meal (as is always done here).

We have a guitar trio coming too – all of them seafarers, and one of them quite famous in Tuvalu and Fiji for his jazzy local songs, of which some have been recorded. We were going to have just two guitarists, and they were lamenting that the third member was still in Fiji on his way home from a ship. I kept quiet because I knew he was going to arrive yesterday. The arrival of the plane is always an interesting event that attracts many people who just come to see who is arriving and who is departing. So the two guys were there, and when they saw the third guy step off the plane they were whooping with joy and surprise.

I’ll be making a short speech of course, telling the guests who Herbert was and what little I know of his short life. I’ll be mentioning the other family members who were/are seafarers. That’s particularly relevant here because there are so many families who have seafarers – in fact an even higher proportion than Southampton. We’ve had some seafaring tragedies during my fourteen years in Tuvalu. Two young men were swept overboard from a containership in heavy weather; one kept afloat for an hour and was recovered by the ship’s rescue boat, the other was never seen again. Also a particularly messy and inexplicable collision between two ships in which three seafarers died. So there will be people here who will relate to the Herbert story.

I’ve printed a family tree and pinned it up on my wall and I have circled the seafarers, including Will, Alexa, Michael (Alexa’s husband) and myself. I also put a little note on the chart that Frank Hensford’s wife Louisa Jane Reeves (1853-1908) was born at sea on a sailing ship, of which her father was master. Pity it wasn’t feasible to include my wife Wendy’s family too as her fourth great grandfather was a captain, from Penzance, Cornwall.

I think it’s going to be a memorable event. I have the feeling that the guests won’t want to leave at the official ending time of 1830. All our neighbours are invited too, so nobody is going to make any complaint if we’re a bit noisy.

So that’s my little way of commemorating the life and loss of Herbert George Hensford. It’s far away from Herbert’s last resting place, in fact just about as far on Earth as it’s possible to be. The setting is very fitting though.

The event will be held on our office lawn which is right by the lagoon (literally one step and you’re either in the lagoon (if the tide his high) or on the beach (if the tide is low). So far the weather looks favourable. Last week we had strong winds across the lagoon and torrential rain, and couldn’t have used our office lawn.

Today, as I look out of my office window, the palms are swaying gently and the lagoon is calm and turquoise.

I reckon Uncle Bert would be pleased.

Here comes a follow-up report:

The afternoon tea in Tuvalu for "Titanic" was a great success.

Everyone in Tuvalu is involved with seafaring - some as actual seafarers, some as family members of seafarers, and some as beneficiaries of income from seafaring. So when I told them the story of my Uncle Herbert George Hensford my guests were very interested.

I mentioned the fact that the road in which my uncle lived lost 8 seafarers that day. No other street had that unenviable score. I had only come across that fact hours earlier in a BBC News item that my schoolfriend drew to my attention.

Something went wrong with the arrangement for lobsters. Either the catchers were unsuccessful or the delights of bed discouraged them going out. However, our spearfishermen not only brought home a dozen beautiful fish (all different varieties) but also freedived to the lagoon bed and brought up two giant clams. The meat from each was the size of a dinner plate and 15mm thick. That was well received by everyone, myself included. The fish arrived after the first guests had arrived, went straight on the barbecue and then to the table.

The band was just fabulous. I'm not a fan of loud music but our guys managed good amplification without shaking the building. As expected, the function did not finish at the nominal 1830 that I put on the invitations.
People just didn't want to go and I was happy they didn't. Even the Prime Minister and his wife stayed well into the evening. I take that as quite a compliment.

I farewelled the last guests at midnight and decided to go for a refreshing swim (from the beach right in front of my office). I nearly said 'cooling swim' but with our high water temperature here 'refreshing' is more accurate. It probably wasn't such a smart idea to go swimming at that time of night with
a tummy full of nice food and 'appropriate refreshments' (for which read 'wine'). Nevertheless I came to no harm and, after a nice shower to get rid of the salt water and sand, rolled into bed feeling pretty satisfied with the day.

My work colleagues had done all the washing up before going home the previous evening, and they had plenty of helpers. Even the PM's wife asked if she could help but of course my colleagues wouldn't hear of it. That would definitely not have been proper protocol. It would have been rather like asking Pearl Wakeford to roll up her sleeves.

If anyone is wondering why the event was held on 14 April, not 15th – well, to be quite truthful I had been relying on my memory of the date of the sinking. My memory never was the best and is probably worse now because of the anno domini effect. However, even though I had a lingering doubt that I had the date wrong I plead ‘artistic licence’, or some such. Historical accuracy would have had to give way to expediency anyway. If I’d had the function on Sunday it would have had to be either a memorial service (which I didn’t want) or I would have had to keep it very low key. Certainly no politicians or community elders could have been invited. I think there is no law that prevents functions on Sundays but it is just ‘not done’ in this ultra Christian country. Sunday is for church and rest. Afternoon naps are the nom.

Well that’s it for another hundred years. Don’t think I’ll plan for that.

Bye for now, John

14 / 04 / 12 - 18 : 00

On Wednesday, April 4th Kaio, a Tuvaluan seafarer and Alofa Tuvalu active member organized a workshop with the trainees onboard MV Nivaga II - one of the two Tuvalu interislands vessels - on the topic “Seafarer and Climate Change”. He was the best student at TMTI when he graduated two years ago. Kaio is the first youth Chris and Gilliane met when shooting “Trouble in Paradise” in 2003. Since then he has been part of every Alofa Tuvalu local activities. He lately acted as Alofa Tuvalu facilitator for the biogas in Nanumea project. No sooner was he back on Funafuti and a few days only before leaving the country for over a year on a cargo, Kaio made a point setting up this workshop to raise trainees awareness about ship and seafarers’ contribution to climate change and daily habits on a ship.

The program:

7 pm - Evening Devotion
7.15 pm – Introduction (by John, Alpha Pacific Navigation General Manager and Alofa Tuvalu counterpart in Tuvalu)
7.30 pm - Seafarer and their contribution to Climate Change (Kaio)
7.50 pm - Screening of King Tides Festival video (2x52 min edited by Gilliane, Alofa Tuvalu President about the 2010 Kind Tides Festival activities)
8.40pm - Filling up of evaluation forms
Wrap up and Closing prayer

At night Kaio wrote : “The workshop was a success. John –- did the opening speech and he also presented on MARPOL regulations. Melton – Alofa Tuvalu General Secretary - also asked for an opportunity to present, i did try and fit him in the program, unfortunately he did not attend. I covered up and we finished at 2050hrs."

John added : “I was very impressed with the organization of the workshop, and that Kaio was able to convince all the trainees of “Nivaga II” to attend. They were very attentive. I would say it was a worthwhile workshop.”

06 / 04 / 12 - 12 : 20

28 / 03 / 12 - 11 : 25

Ce qui se passe au Brésil est à vomir. Jusqu'où sont-"ils", sommes-nous, capables d’aller ? 30000 personnes, Presque 3 fois la population de Tuvalu ! Une goutte d’eau dans l’océan de l’humanité, nous savons, mais nous avons signé. Et vous ?

Pétition contre le barrage de Belo Monte

26 / 03 / 12 - 06 : 00

Talofa, Bonjour,Hello and Bula vinaka to you all… i have just arrived in today from Nanumea. Here is a small report of all the activities that i did whilsts stranded for four days on Nanumea Island.

I arrived Nanumea on Sunday the 18th of March 2012 at 0900hrs.Since it was a Sunday, no work could be i rested at one of my friends house and spend the whole day there. On Monday morning i visited the Kaupule and asked them permission for me to continue whatever that is left to be done, the secretary gave me permission and i went ahead and visited the bio-digesters. As per our report that one out of the four units is not working... now it is working as well and the family (Tumau) is also using the bio-gas for cooking. As i visited the families, i notice that the gardens were already been done but the fence for the gardens were local coconut leaves... a very wise idea but pigs are everywhere and they(pigs) can easily tear the coconut leaves down. I asked them if the Kaupule have distributed the chicken wire which the project has provided and they replied "NO".... i wasn't so surprised.

Apart from that everything on Nanumea Island is running smooth and sound and i think the Nanumea Bio-Gas project is a success and it will be successful on the long run

The ladies in Nanumea said that they really miss you alot.....Sikeli i have send your regards and as a matter of fact i did some dedication on the radio. Speaking of the radio, Gilliane i did the interview by myself with the radio team and it is all in tuvaluan... if you still need a copied version i would love to go and ask for it.

I will email other informations later as i am really into a cold shower than dose off in bed. It is still morning but i really need to sleep.



26 / 03 / 12 - 04 : 00

Talofa from the capital island of Funafuti. Sikeli and i arrived 2 nights ago.

Answering your questions and queries : How does it feel to be back after several weeks in "simpler life"...reverse from coming back from very developed countries? I really miss the simpler life....i really do.

Happy to be in town? Not at all...Living in Nanumea,everything was as simple as you could imagine...waking up to fresh winds with waves sounds crashing on the shores...hearing chicken crowing in the wee hours of the morning...laughter of children while bathing in the sea..god i miss those..hahaha

The ship departs on the 14th of next month. We will be buying the fittings and i will take them back to Nanumea, along with the payments of the 2 employees.

Sikeli and I went to TMTI to check on the bio-gas there. Leota is in New Zealand. He is doing his Master Class One on Engineering and a foreign-going licence. So he won't be here for a couple of months. Katepu Malaga is taking over as a Chief Engineer at TMTI and so we took the trip with him and also the new engine staffs of TMTI to the Bio-Digester site and explain to them on how to manage the digester.
The school (TMTI) is awaiting the arrival of the trainees pigs from the central island and will let the trainees run the bio-digester in collaboration with the engine department. Of course i took the pictures...everytime i ask sikeli to do the photo shootings ,he always manage to blur the photos....hahaha

Sikeli will be flying to Fiji on Tuesday 28th and I have already confirmed his bookings from the travels office.

Hugs and lots of love from here.


28 / 02 / 12 - 22 : 32

The island has an interesting history of littered parts of WW2 wreck plane left by the American after defending the pacific island countries. And there was a catholic school established here in the late 1960 and early 1970s but it was abandoned when the father running the school was taken ill and never returned.

We managed to complete all the piggery foundation with Piakas being the last to be done and he killed a pig for us to eat as late lunch. All water tanks were delivered to the respective plant owner and installed on stand as plan…. There was some minor adjustment on the tank because the water was not going out of the outlet pipe as the original desire for use in the garden.

Piaka has been using the waste to water his breadfruit tree near his house and Failase his coconut tree around the house.

I had a one to one discussion with the plant owners to discuss various problems they encounter from bio digester function to piggery problems. As for the pig waste collected from around the island it is very dry because pigs are taking in less water and also the climate condition here seldom go below 30°c. They were told to collect pig waste and then soaked the waste over night to soften the waste before it is poured into the digester.

The three digesters are still working and Steven is very happy with his plant because now his family is able to use the gas to cook tea every morning... The two grandsons staying with him are the one feeding the digester and also looking after the pigs.

Steven water tanks has been installed next to the bio digester by the kitchen using the roofing iron from the kitchen…(he) scarifies one 6x1 timber on his walls of the house to be used as facer board.
Teauli, one of the boys who work with us, was the one who did all the plumbing work on the guttering he modified material so we could have water flowing into the tank.

The plant owner were told to put post on both side of the digester to stabilized it and a 6x1 timber as cross piece so the digester will not to tilt one way or other and they were told what to do. There was some problem with water condensing on the gas pipe. They were told to keep the hose at 45° angle at all time to prevent the water going into the stove. Because if the water enters the stove it will block or damage the stove….. Piaka is plumber and he is well versed with solving the problems.
At Stevens house we tried the old cast iron stove and it also work with the gas burning.
Tuamau still to fill his biodigester with pig waste but we have build the piggery and the tank foundation on his house in the bush.
The five men who assist us with all the work are Malosa, Dusty, Kausaga, Teauli and Taumaeke.

Other activity

- Cassava planting
Liner asked for me to demonstrate the proper way to plant cassava and dalo ni tana (taro family) which has an edible root and can tolerate hot condition. He has a backyard garden where he planted some of his vegetable. The leaves of dalo ni tana can also be used as rourou in coconut milk Fijian style cooking. The kaupule were trying to promote the planting of other food source for the people of Nanumea because pulaka planting is time consuming.

- Pig farmer
I have been asked by a few farmers to teach them how to castrate there pigs and also do teeth clipping on small piglets to prevent the piglet from biting the nipple of the mother pig.
I have been advising them on how to use coconut because they are wasting a lot of coconut by the use of raw nut. To feed their pig and to scrape the coconut for them to use the milk for oil and the left over to be mixed with mill mix and fed to the pigs.

I am still at Nanumea and hope the boat will be here on Thursday 23th of Feb. if all goes well.
Best regard to all, Sikeli

23 / 02 / 12 - 06 : 56


PS: summarizing is good but wanting to keep this blog summary in 6 pages, kept us from telling you about many many things and this include the very nice palagi we met there: Leon from Germany, Graham from the Uk, Falk and Ioanna from Germany as well.

15 / 02 / 12 - 10 : 35

... The Odyssey Expedition of Graham Hugues, "the first Guinness World Record attempt to visit every single sovereign state in the world... without flying."

13 / 02 / 12 - 13 : 50

Bula, Talofa from the island of sunshine and fish eating loving people in the middle of the Pacific ocean.

We visited the islet of Lakena where the people of Nanumea have their plantation of Taro, Pulaka pit for each family and groups with good underground water.

We have started to build piggery foundation. What a change of attitude Tuamau is the first to collect all the sand and gravel and we did his piggery last Friday. He still has to fill the digester with waste now he is telling us he will move the digester to his old house in the bush near the late Esalas house.

Paulo has already built his piggery and the water tank all ready with him.

While Steven’s piggery foundation also completed we are left only with Piaka which will do later in the week.

Steven was so happy that he killed one pig for us to eat for lunch and left over was for our early dinner that day.

The kaupule tractors help to collect sand and gravel for the piggery owner. They also provided one worker to assist the 4 family members with the work of building the piggery.

Not forgetting our friend Mr. Rurunteiti of TMTI who also work here under the government contract assist with the laying of foundation and specification for the piggery and he gave his cement mixing machine for us to use.

We also conducted a workshop on pig management on Monday as was requested by the Agricultural officer KAIPATI. We started the workshop soon after lunch after the kaupule presented the council budget for the next 3 months to the fale kaupule of Nanumea at the Maneapa. The Maneapa was filling with the elders and ladies of the island with youth who help in the meeting of the Kaupule. My estimation was that we got almost all the head of the family of Nunumea about 90 to 100 in the Maneapa. It was to be for one hour only as was agreed upon by the Agricultural officer on the island but workshop when on for about 4 hours and we have to stop the people asking question and ask them to come home for further clarification.

It is the first ever workshop conducted on the island on pig management and the local nurse was also present and she was very impressed with the diseases that could be transmitted to human.
They need to confine their pigs in the pen to prevent the spread of diseases to human. I did a demonstration on teeth clipping and castration for people on the island to follow and learn from.
The kaupule also need to buid a piggery on the island of Lakena and put a bio digester on the island for the caretaker to look after.

We have some welcome rain yesterday which is good and the agricultural nursery was good he has planted the egg plant, tomato and chilies that were given (by Alofa Tuvalu) to him the previous year.
The plant were growing very well in his garden and the one for his wife in front of the house where she planted cabbages, cumber, chilies ,tomatoes and egg plant are growing very well and we have been getting our vegetable from her garden as well as the local Rev Semisi the local priest.

Sorry I could not send picture because of limitation of time. All is well here and the people are slowly responding to some of the issue raised during workshop.

Best regard, Sikeli

09 / 02 / 12 - 11 : 19

Yesterday Monday, February the 6th we ran another workshop for the community under the funding of Nanumea Kaupule for Pig Management on the Island. Sikeli did the workshop while i do the usual.. People enjoyed it and asked alot of questions in relations to bio-gas and pig management...
(We are currently) building piggeries for Bio Gas owners.... still 2 to go.. working under such hot sun with a windy breeze is so good....
hugs from Nanumea

07 / 02 / 12 - 10 : 08

Bula, Greeting from Nanumea

Here as usual is hot and windy. As for our trip on the boat it was full with hardly a space to sleep at night for the next two days luckily we reached Nanumea early Sunday so I could cached up with some wanted sleep.

On Monday we had a meeting with the Kaupule. They were in the dark because the lady looking after the project left and did not do any handing over. After some clarification and the role of Alofa Tuvalu it was agreed that we should see the 4 household who have got the bio digester.

We manage to light 2 bio plant for Piaka we boil a kettle for tea while at Paulo and for that morning Paulo’s wife bake some donut for us and fill half a bucket of biscuit which is great and it lasted for a week.

Tumau still to fill his digester. He has a lot of stories to tell and he has open the out let and drain all the waste out and say that mosquito are breeding inside which is not true. But the kaupule are on him now so they will handle him.

Steven was undecided because of people giving him a bad look when he remove the plant from Isalas home but after our reassurance he has started to fill his plant and our last check gas was coming from his plant and we manage to light it with the gas stove which was fitted later.

As for the piggery with the exception of Paulo who has build some sort of piggery all the rest had not started on it. But for the next two weeks will try and sort thing out with the bio plant owner.

The workshop was ok on waste management for Bio gas with about 80 people attending not counting people standing outside of the Maniyapa peeping in.
The church minister of Nanumea open the workshop with a prayer and all went well and a nice refreshment prepared by the women group. There was some discussion on their pig damaging vegetation on the island and polluting underwater well.

I am running out of time.. Internet here cost a lot and very very slow.

03 / 02 / 12 - 16 : 02

3 bio-digesters are working well. I think by the time the ship arrives all of the 4 bio-digersters will be working well.

03 / 02 / 12 - 16 : 01

Plane situation is worse than ever. There is no news of when (or even if) flights will resume. February is going to be a quiet month in our office. Maybe I should go home again. Oh, no planes!

I like Chris’ (Alofa Tuvalu counterpart in Los Angeles) description of Tuvalu as ‘small-scaled enough where you can actually get a handle on daily cause and effect’. Very apt. I’m having some printers sent from Australia and the courier just emailed asking for my postcode. I replied: ‘ Anything you like. There is no postcode system here. There is only one post office (and one of everything else). There are no postal deliveries. It’s a tiny island. One has to walk to the post office and collect own mail. Postcodes aren’t needed. Of course sometimes computer systems insist on one. I normally use 00000. Computers seems to accept that, even though meaningless’.

03 / 02 / 12 - 16 : 00

Gilliane, what you said to Seinati about being lucky with the plane was absolutely right. Since you left we have not had any planes into here. None. Zero!

Fortunately Government sent “Nivaga II” to Suva on Tuesday and we put ten seafarers on board; the Government is sending “Manu Folau” to Suva on Saturday and we are going to put fourteen seafarers on board. We lose money on airfares because Air Pacific will not refund the full amount and we lose again by having to accommodate so many seafarers in Fiji (and they are getting there too soon for their ships). It’s a lose/lose situation – APNL loses money and Tuvalu
(perhaps) loses jobs. It’s probably a lose/lose/lose situation when you take into account Air Pacific’s losses.

What a mess! Never mind, today is Australia Day and the Australians have decided to award themselves a half day off for a barbecue to celebrate their “island” day. On the other hand it’s 1800hrs already and I still haven’t got out of the office. Ah well, such is life.


03 / 02 / 12 - 15 : 58

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