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 Budget

It may seem like Oliver to be so bold as to ask the Finance Minister for more gruel – but what the Dickens, Steven Joyce… is this Budget really as good as it gets?

Supposedly, the public was going to receive significant rewards – an election year lolly scramble no less – for the eight years of belt tightening that they’ve endured, and for the rundown of essential public services.

Well, what Budget 2017 delivered instead in Education and in Health were allocations barely sufficient to maintain the current levels of service delivery More>>

Scoop Full Coverage: of Budget Announcements & Reaction
Latest: Scoop Search

 
 

Auditor-General Stands Down For Investigation: Gordon Campbell On (Not) Taking Responsibility

So Martin Matthews, our current Auditor-General wishes he could have detected “earlier” the fraud that occurred on his watch at the Ministry of Transport. Hmmm. But he could have detected it earlier, surely? That’s the point. More>>

ALSO:

NGOs Pleased: Govt To Halt Collection Of Client Data

Brenda Pilott, the chair of ComVoices and national manager of Social Service Providers Aotearoa, congratulates the government on its decision to call a halt to the collection of individual client data until the concerns of not-for-profit service providers have been worked through. More>>

ALSO:

Gosh: Blasphemy Law Repeal Struck Down

Chris Hipkins, the MP who tabled a Supplementary Order Paper to add our Blasphemy Law to the Statutes Repeal Bill, said this was a "sad day for freedom of speech, tolerance, and leadership". More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Navy’s Dealings With Fat Leonard, And Twin Peaks

At an official level, our “she’ll be right” attitude routinely spills over into a keen resentment of anyone who suggests the outcomes may be less than satisfactory… The Navy has now gone one step beyond. It won’t even ask itself whether it did a good job. More>>

ALSO:

NZDF: Fifth Rotation Of Troops Heads To Iraq

The fifth rotation of New Zealand Defence Force troops left today for a six-month mission training Iraqi soldiers. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Demonising Of Iran

Will New Zealand still be willing to pursue its recent trade overtures to Iran, now that US President Donald Trump has used his speech in Riyadh to single out Iran as the main source of terrorism and instability in the Middle East? More>>

ALSO:

 
 
 
 

Opening The Election Supporters

 

LATEST HEADLINES

  • PARLIAMENT
  • POLITICS
  • REGIONAL
 
 

Featured InfoPages

Opening the Election