But this year’s celebration was special as they were joined by their countrymen and women from Kiribati and Rabi another Kiribati community in Fiji who are here for the 11th Festival of Pacific Arts.
Despite the rain, hundreds of them gathered at the Lawson Tama stadium for the celebration.
Kiribati’s Vice-President Teima Onorio when giving her speech said the day also marked the 33 years of diplomatic ties Kiribati share with the Solomon Islands.
Mrs Onorio said both countries share a common history under the British administration.
However, she said it was the historical link between the people that transcends these ties.
“Through our shared history, our people have lived side by side and in harmony in your beautiful country,” the Kiribati Vice-President said.
She added that the presence of I-Kiribati Solomon Islanders here in the Solomon’s and their relations with those in Kiribati was a significant part of history between the two countries.
Mrs Onorio in her speech also thanked the government and the people of this country for welcoming the I-Kiribati Solomon Islanders who have migrated here and have worked, studied and most importantly call Solomon Islands home.
“Thank you indeed Solomon Islands for sharing your land and resources with our Kiribati people who have now become citizens of your beautiful country,” she said.
Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo when congratulating the people of Kiribati said the two countries shared a common history rooted in the British colonial rule.
The Prime Minister said since the people of Kiribati migrated to the Solomon’s between the years 1950s to 1960s, the Kiribati population has continued to grow and has now scattered all over the country.
Prime Minister Lilo said according to the 2009 National Census, the population of I-Kiribati in Solomon Islands was 6,406.
“I believe the number has gone-up given that the data is about four years old,” the Prime Minister said.
“But it is important to stress that since then the I-Kiribati people were part of our independence and continued to contribute significantly to various institutions like the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force, the Public Service and our private sector to name a few,” he said.
Two cakes were also prepared for the occasion, one for the Solomon Islands and one for Kiribati.
Both cakes were decorated with flying colors of each of the two countries’ flags.
Those attended also included government ministers and officials, Opposition Leader Dr Derek Sikua and wife, Deputy Prime Minister Manasseh Maelanga and other dignitaries.
By Douglas Marau
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