Report – By Alex Perrottet of Pacific Media Watch
Kiribati President Anote Tong has appeared in a new documentary on climate change in Kiribati, saying the threat to his island nation is getting worse.
The Hungry Tide was screened on Māori Television last night in the first free-to-air broadcast in New Zealand.
In the SBS documentary, Australian filmmaker Tom Zubrycki captures scenes from the low-lying country in the Pacific and tracks the story of Maria Tiimon, a Kiribati climate change activist living in Sydney.
President Tong said: “You’ve just got to feel for these people” and “As the sea level will rise, the problem will only get worse”.
The documentary is one of a growing number of works that focus on the issue of rising sea levels in the Pacific.
Last year, the Pacific Media Centre hosted film producer Lyn Collie, who made There Once Was An Island, about Takū, near Bougainville, Papua New Guinea.
A University of Technology, Sydney, student journalist, Lauren Day, won an Australian journalism award for a short documentary about climate change in Kiribati.
AUT University Masters in Communication Studies journalist Taberannang Korauba, who will be graduating on Friday, won first class honours for a research thesis on climate change and the Kiribati media.
President Tong said in the documentary his country lacked the resources to deal with the problem and that the people would inevitably have to move.
In March this year, the Kiribati Parliament approved the purchase of a 2200-hectare estate on Fiji’s Vanua Levu island.
At the time, President Tong said there were no plans to start moving people to that location but that the fertile land would most likely be used for food security and that climate change concerns had prompted the government to purchase the land.
The documentary features Maria Tiimon who attended the 2009 Copenhagen Climate Change Conference, as well as the conference in Cancun in 2010.
She said the issue is broad and not just about moving people.
“It’s not just about relocation or migrating people to a safer place,” she said.
“Climate change is about human rights and justice.”
The Hungry Tide was first screened in New Zealand by Oxfam during the Pacific Islands Forum in Auckland last year.