Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search

 


Remote Pacific atoll challenge lures Christchurch planner

MEDIA RELEASE

25 August 2014


Remote Pacific atoll challenge lures Christchurch planner

How do you come up with an urban development plan for a city which consists of tiny islets connected by causeways located in a remote Pacific atoll and subject to flooding on the next king tide?

That’s the unique challenge facing Christchurch planner and NZPI member Shifani Sood who is heading to Kiribati (pronounced Kiribas) next month to take up a role as an Urban Planning Advisor.

Shifani will be going it alone for the year long Volunteer Service Abroad (VSA) assignment, and she is believed to be the first planning volunteer from New Zealand to venture to Kiribati. She is busy raising funds for VSA and her upcoming adventure, which she says will be no holiday in paradise.

“Kiribati is not a tropical island – there will be no lying on beautiful beaches or cocktails by the pool.

It will be a choice between boiled water, not cooled, or coconut water to drink in year round average temperature of around 31 degrees Celsius. To add to that, most of the Tarawa Lagoon is not suitable for swimming.

“There are no fruit or vegetables produced there so I have been told to expect a diet of swamp taro, coconut, fish (a lot of tuna), sea cucumber and maybe bananas for one month of the year ‘if the boat arrives’.

Kiribati, which has the highest sea to land ratio in the world, is made up of a 32 atolls in the middle of the Pacific Ocean about a four hour flight from Fiji, its closest neighbouring country. It has a combined population of just over 100,000.

Shifani will be based in the capital, South Tarawa, on an atoll about 1km wide, 28km long and 3m high at its highest point. Tarawa is the only part of Kiribati considered ‘urban’ housing more than half the nation’s population with a density of 2,250 people per square kilometre. Most i-Kiribati live in slum like conditions with poor sanitation facilities.

“There are no tourist facilities. There is one road and I’m told that it can take anywhere between three quarters of an hour to an hour and half to travel from end to end. There are two flights a week but most of the time the airstrip is used for partying, drying clothes and driving motorbikes very fast because it is the smoothest road on the island.”

Shifani will be working for The Ministry of Environment, Lands and Development helping to ensure the Kiribati capital develops in a structured manner that leads to more efficient use of land areas.

“I took the challenge on because I wanted to see planning from a fresh perspective and be involved in something where I could make a real difference. The key thing will be to leave something in place that the local community can carry on. ”

Shifani is most looking forward to the geographic and technological isolation with little or no connectivity to the ‘outside’ world, as well as working with the local community to understand what they want from an urban development plan. She is spending time with Christchurch’s Kiribati community in preparation for her journey.

“The people are absolutely lovely and the Kiribati community here has really embraced me and encouraged me. Their nationally loved sport is volleyball which they play tirelessly and I have been honing my skills with them here in Christchurch.”

Shifani says a priority will be to learn the local Kiribati language as quickly as possible when she arrives there in September and is looking forward to discovering what impression, if any, the locals have of the planning issues, compared to hers.

NZPI CEO Susan Houston admires Shifani’s willingness to take up such an incredible challenge.

“It’s great that she is prepared to take her planning skills and apply them to this unique challenge and I am sure the stories she has to tell will inspire other NZPI members around the country,” Ms Houston says.

Shifani is volunteering with VSA, which is New Zealand’s largest and most experienced volunteer agency working in international development. VSA brings together New Zealanders and our Asia-Pacific neighbours to share their skills and experience, working to transform lives and create a fair future for all.

To help Shifani with her volunteer assignment please visit www.givealittle.co.nz/cause/shifanisood. Follow her Kiribati adventure at http://shifanisood.wordpress.com/.

For more information on VSA please visit www.vsa.org.nz.

Ends.

New Zealand Planning Institute (NZPI)

The NZPI is the voice of planning in New Zealand. It is the professional organisation representing this country’s planners, resource managers, urban designers, and environmental practitioners. Planners have a critical role in shaping New Zealand’s future by helping to develop solutions to key issues, such as population growth, infrastructure needs, pressure on natural resources and environments, demographic change and transport. For more information visit www.planning.org.nz.


© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell:
On The Northland By-Election

Supposedly, Winston Peters’ victory in Northland has exposed the simmering dissatisfaction with the government that exists out in the provinces. Yet it remains to be seen whether this defeat will have much significance – and not simply because if and when Labour resumes business as usual in the Northland seat at the next election, Peters’ hold on it could simply evaporate.

On Saturday, National’s electorate vote declined by 7,000 votes, as the 9,000 majority it won last September turned into a 4,000 vote deficit – mainly because Labour supporters followed the nod and wink given by Labour leader Andrew Little, and voted tactically for Peters. In the process, Labour’s vote went down from nearly 9,000 votes six months ago, to only 1,315 on Saturday. More>>

 

PARLIAMENT TODAY:

Gordon Campbell: On A Funeral In Asia, The Northland By-Election, And News Priorities

Supposedly, New Zealand’s destiny lies in Asia, and that was one of Foreign Minister Murray McCully’s rationales for his bungled reforms at MFAT. OK. So, if that’s the case why didn’t Prime Minister John Key attend the state funeral on Sunday of Singapore’s founding leader Lee Kuan Yew? More>>

ALSO:

Werewolf Satire: Not Flag-Waving; Flag-Drowning

The panel choosing the flag options has no visual artists at all. Now, I’ve kerned the odd ligature in my time and I know my recto from my French curve so I thought I’d offer a few suggestions before they get past their depth. More>>

ALSO:

IPCA Reports: Significant Problems In Police Custody

In releasing two reports today, the Independent Police Conduct Authority has highlighted a number of significant problems with the way in which Police deal with people who are detained in Police cells. More>>

ALSO:

Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security: Inquiry Into GCSB Pacific Allegations

The complaints follow recent public allegations about GCSB activities. The complaints, and these public allegations, raise wider questions regarding the collection, retention and sharing of communications data. More>>

ALSO:

TPPA Investment Leak: "NZ Surrender To US" On Corporates Suing Governments

Professor Jane Kelsey: ‘As anticipated, the deal gives foreign investors from the TPPA countries special rights, and the power to sue the government in private offshore tribunals for massive damages if new laws, or even court decisions, significantly affected their bottom line’. More>>

ALSO:

Werewolf: The Myth Of Steven Joyce

Gordon Campbell: The myth of competence that’s been woven around Steven Joyce – the Key government’s “Minister of Everything” and “Mr Fixit” – has been disseminated from high-rises to hamlets, across the country... More>>

ALSO:

RMTU: No Public Submissions On International Government Procurement Deal

“The government is preparing to assent to the Government Procurement Agreement, a World Trade Organisation Treaty which opens up New Zealand Government contracts to foreign companies and closes the door on local businesses and their workers. However the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Select Committee is refusing to take public submissions on the decision.” More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell:
On Pacific Spying

So New Zealand spied on its friends and allies in the Pacific – and has not only been passing on the results to the NSA, but has apparently passed on the details of the Pacific’s relations with Taiwan to our other best friends, the Chinese. On the side, the Key government has also been using the security services to gauge the chances of Trade Minister Tim Groser landing the top job at the WTO... More>>

ALSO:

State Housing Transfer: Salvation Army Opts Out

The Salvation Army has decided against negotiating with Government for the transfer of Housing New Zealand stock.
More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Politics
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news