Kiribati Scout Association

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Membership badge of the Kiribati Scout Association

Scouting in Kiribati was first introduced in 1914, when they country was known as the Gilbert and Ellice Islands. Scouting operated as branch of the Scout Association (UK) in the early years. The Gilbert and Ellice Scout Association was founded in 1927, and joined the World Organization of the Scout Movement in 1933.


World War II

In Hilary Saint George Saunders' The Left Handshake, written in 1948, we are told

From the Gilbert Islands comes the following story, from Tuitonga Merang, who was their Assistant Scoutmaster of the 1st Troop.
"I want to tell you about our friend whom we loved so much, A. L. Sadd, and the way in which he, a Scout, helped us of the 1st Gilberts Scout Troop at Rongorongo. When Mr. Sadd first came here, we the Scouts at Rongorongo welcomed him with great joy, as he was the first British Scout who had come to help us and to be our friend. He became our Captain and the leader of our Rover Scout Troop at Rongorongo... When I think of Mr. Sadd and his life among us, I feel that he carried out the ten Scout Laws...
This is what happened when the Japanese took him, and he showed the Scout spirit. Early one morning in September 1942, two Japanese warships and a submarine appeared off the island. The people ran away from the village and Mr. Sadd was here alone. Soon guns were fired from the ships and an airplane came flying over very low, [over 300] Japanese soldiers then came ashore… to the Government station. Only the Commander and a few men stayed there, the rest spread out to search for the white wireless men, who had gone into hiding. One group of soldiers came to our school to take Mr. Sadd, and we were surprised, for he just stayed in his house waiting for them to come to him. They took him to the Government station and we saw no sign of fear, but just a stern face and a great courage. When he came before the Commander, the Union Jack was lying on the ground in front of him, so that he should tread on it, but Mr. Sadd stooped down, picked it up, folded it together and put it on the table before the Commander. It was decided that he should be taken away. He was allowed to go back to his house to get things for the journey, and he called good-bye to the schoolboys as the soldiers took him away. I went along with Mr. Sadd to the Government station. When we arrived there, he was taken outside to sit on a rough stone for more than an hour. While he was sitting there waiting to go, he got very thirsty and hungry, for he had not eaten anything since early morning, and now it was after 3 p.m. So he beckoned to me to go to him, and he whispered asking if I could get him a young coconut to drink. It was very difficult as the place was full of Japanese soldiers, and they liked coconuts too. When I was getting some and husking them, some soldiers came to me but they did not take the nuts away. Perhaps they had had enough. I went with the coconuts to Mr. Sadd, but it was difficult as the Commander was looking at Mr. Sadd's things only a few yards away. So I decided to go first to the Commander, to give him one coconut to please him, and then perhaps he would not be angry if I went and gave one to Mr. Sadd; and perhaps the Japanese soldiers would not ill-treat me, for there were a great many standing round staring at Mr. Sadd. My plan worked and Mr. Sadd got his coconut and was very grateful. But as I was leaving him, glad that I had managed to help him, he asked me to do something even more difficult. He was very distressed when he saw his things which he had been allowed to bring from his house being given by the Commander to different soldiers to take down to the wharf, so that he knew they would be scattered and he would never get them on the ship. So he asked if I could get hold of his kitbag and hide it till I saw him being taken to the wharf. Then would I take it and give it into his hands, as he depended upon the contents, a little food, some money and some warm clothes, to keep him alive if he was taken to Tokyo. So I tried to hide it but it was big, and I had to carry it in my arms, but I was fortunate that no Jap soldier tried to take it from me. Perhaps, if one had come, I should have been afraid to hold it for fear of his gun and bayonet. Presently the time came to go and Mr. Sadd was led down to the wharf by two soldiers, and I with two boys followed at a little distance. But he was kept another half-hour at the wharf, while they waited for the Commander to get on his launch, saluted by all the soldiers who were gathered on the wharf. We knew it was very dangerous to stand about among the soldiers, and I began to get very nervous and worried lest they should take us away too, because we were standing there. While we were waiting, a soldier came to tell me to help load some pigs, which they had shot in the village, and were taking out to the ship to eat. I had to go to do the job, but I was thinking about that kitbag. I did not want to leave it for it would soon be lost. I tried to hold it between my feet, but I could not work like that, so I put it near the wharf and I was very glad that no Jap soldier took it away. After about ten minutes more the Commander came, the soldiers saluted, and he went away on his launch. Then Mr. Sadd was taken to the boat. I and one of the boys who had some of Mr. Sadd's things wanted to go and give them to him as he had asked me. But we were too frightened because the boat was full of soldiers, so we put them on the near end of the boat. Then I thought of poor Mr. Sadd's request, and God helped me. I jumped to the boat, picked up Mr. Sadd's things and took them round to the far end of the boat and gave them into Mr. Sadd's hands. He took them and said, 'Thank you very much, Tuitonga.' I went back to the wharf, glad that I had succeeded with the help of God, whom Mr. Sadd served, and for Whose sake he was suffering. I did it because of the great love which God had put in my heart for Mr. Sadd and because He gave me courage not my own. Well the boat left the wharf and Mr. Sadd started on his lonely journey. I and the two boys stood at the end of the wharf and waved him and called ' Good-bye, Mr. Sadd.' He did not answer us because he was too full of sorrow at having to leave all his Gilbertese boys, but he was not afraid, and he waved his hat to us. We stood and watched till the boat reached the ship, about two miles away, outside the reef. We left the Government village then for it was nearly six o'clock and we returned to our village of Rongorongo. It was all very quiet-no noise or games or singing. Every one was very unhappy because Mr. Sadd had been taken away. The ship took Mr. Sadd to Tarawa Island and he stayed there about a month before he was killed. I very much wanted to tell you about Mr. Sadd's courage when he was put to death but we have heard so many different stories that we do not know the whole truth yet. We heard that he was always cheerful and helped the other white men with him, when the Japanese threatened them and made them work hard. He was always' prepared,' even for the danger which ended in his death."

PostWar Scouting

The Gilbert and Ellice Islands were separated administratively in the 1970s to become the independent Commonwealth nations of Kiribati and Tuvalu, and their Scouting movements took different paths.

The Kiribati Scout Association was founded in 1993, and the island nation joined the World Organization of the Scout Movement in the same year. With its close link with Scouts Australia since 1986, Kiribati Scouts have been represented in international Scout events and leader training courses. Membership in 2002 stood at 1,333.

The highest rank is the President's Award, a title common to ranks in other nations.

See also


The Left Handshake, Hilary Saint George Saunders, 1948

Members of the Asia-Pacific Scout Region

Full members: Australia | Bangladesh | Bhutan | Brunei | Republic of China (Taiwan) | Fiji | Hong Kong | India | Indonesia | Japan | Kiribati | South Korea | Malaysia | Maldives | Mongolia | Nepal | New Zealand | Pakistan | Papua New Guinea | Philippines | Singapore | Sri Lanka | Thailand
Associate members: Macau | French Polynesia
Potential members: Afghanistan | Cambodia | East Timor | Nauru | Samoa | Solomon Islands | Tonga | Tuvalu | Vanuatu | Vietnam
Countries without Scouting: People's Republic of China (mainland) | North Korea | Laos | Myanmar