Issue No. 02/2020 – Thursday, 03 December 2020 (Kitiona Tausi)
The separation of the Ellice Islands from the Gilbert Islands was almost a decision by nearly all individual Ellice islanders but all the eight islands in Tuvalu voted for separation during a referendum conducted to know the wish of the Ellice Islands.
But prior to the referendum that took place in September 1974, the British Government stated that the Ellice Islands would not receive any share of the Gilberts’ phosphate revenues from Ocean Island and the assets of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands Colony (GEIC) outside the Ellice Islands would remain the property of the Gilbert Islands.
However, separation was still supported by all prominent Ellice Islands politicians except Mr. Isakala Paeniu, a government minister and a member of parliament from the island of Nukulaelae.
The Ellice Islanders were not deterred by this arrangement and proceeded to agree to the conditions of the separation. At this time almost 100% of the Ellice Islands population were members of one religion, Christianity in the Protestant Denomination which had adopted the name “Ellice Islands Church” after its secession from the Samoa Congregational Church in 1968.
The Ellice Islanders were very determined to be separated from the Gilbert and this was realized on 01 January 1976. Without any known resources except its people and their faith in God. In 01 October 1978, the Ellice Islands became independent from Great Britain and called itself a new name “Tuvalu” with a national motto “Tuvalu mo te Atua” translated as “Tuvalu for God”.
The Ellice Islands Church played a very important role firstly in the colonial and the pre-independence period up to the 1990s in the development of the new sovereign state as well as the culture and customs of Tuvalu when there emerged several new religious movements trying to register in Tuvalu.
The Ellice Islands Church has now become the “Ekalesia Kelisiano Tuvalu” claiming much reduced members for nearly 100% in the 1960s to just about 90%, meaning that about 10% of the country’s total population have moved to these new religious movements.
Since the introduction of Christianity to Tuvalu (formerly the Ellice Islands) in the 1860s, the church had been very active in its pastoral care programme. This was a programme where church ministers on each island provided Christian counselling to families and individuals who had problems especially social problems as well as domestic violence.
The three regulations which the Minister of Local Government and Agriculture, Hon Katepu Laoi has signed and to become into force this coming Sunday, 06 December 2020 are all in regard to issues that in the past were the responsibility of the church under its pastoral care ministry.
But because these issue have become continuing critical issues affecting social life in the communities, government has stepped in to provide regulations that would bring forth social peace in the community and also as a response to honor and respect our national motto.
The three regulations are: The restrictions on the movement of children at night; The observation of evening devotions; and the prohibition of the consumption of alcohol on Sundays.
The Minister of Finance, Hon Seve Paeniu has also signed the Trading Hours Regulation which will also become effective this Sunday, 06 December 2020.