Failed Kiribati Climate Refugee finally leaves New Zealand

National flag of Kiribati, public domain image source Wikimedia
National flag of Kiribati, public domain image source Wikimedia

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

Kiribati man Ioane Teitiota, who attempted to claim climate refugee status when he overstayed his work visa, has finally left New Zealand.

Accord to 3News;

The 39-year-old was deported on Wednesday after associate Immigration Minister Craig Foss refused to intervene in his long-running case.

His wife Angua Erika and their three New Zealand-born children will follow next week.

Mr Teitiota stayed in New Zealand after his three-year work visa expired in 2010, but failed in his court battle to be granted refugee status.

He argued for years that his family’s health would be at risk if they return to Kiribati, which is endangered by rising sea levels and water supplies contaminated by salt and sewage.

Prime Minister John Key has said he does not consider Mr Teitiota a climate change refugee but an overstayer.

Read more:

This story might be over, for now at least, but given the millions of people currently flooding into places like Europe and the southern USA, its probably only a matter of time, until someone else with a dubious claim to refugee status gives the “climate refugee” gambit another try.

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September 23, 2015 12:09 am

I have already noticed several people* in the news, trying to link the refugees in Europe to climate refugees, along the lines of, “you think this is bad, but it will be much worse when the climate refugees start”.
*e.g. Emma Thompson and Paddy Ashdown.

Reply to  QV
September 23, 2015 6:55 am

Tut, tut Eric and QV.

Time – 7 September 2015
“How Climate Change is Behind the Surge of Migrants to Europe”

Reply to  Jimbo
September 23, 2015 9:47 am

First it says:
“How Climate Change is Behind the Surge of Migrants to Europe”
Then, in the article:
“Intractable wars, terror and poverty in the Middle East and beyond will continue to drive the surge. One additional factor, say scientists, is likely to make it even worse: climate change.”
So is it “behind the surge”, or “likely to make it worse”?
There was a chap on BBC news today (Leonard Doyle of the International Organisation for Migration), who said “most of these people are desperate people fleeing hardship, fleeing poverty, fleeing climate change effect on their land and their crops, and most of all fleeing violence”. It’s amazing that he put violence last in the list, while offering no evidence for “climate change” as a cause.
It seems like his organisation has already decided that “climate change” is causing migration even though what they are really talking about is bad weather.
Unfortunately when I clicked on the link to find out more about the “Migration, Environment and Climate Change: Evidence for Policy project ” it produced a 404 error.
As long as these people are allowed to make such unsubstantiated claims without challenge, eventually it will become accepted as fact.

Bryan A
Reply to  Jimbo
September 25, 2015 12:39 pm

We will only begin to be in trouble the moment that one of these HOO-HAWS is successful in suing for Climate Refugee Status

David Schofield
September 23, 2015 12:18 am

Europe is already taking in thousands of climate refugees according to head of EU.

Ben of Houston
Reply to  David Schofield
September 23, 2015 5:10 am

Yes, they are fleeing the rapidly changing climate in the middle east, which has changed from raining dihydrogen monoxide to Trinitrotoluene

Tom in Florida
Reply to  David Schofield
September 23, 2015 7:02 am

Perhaps they mean the political, economic or religious climate.

Reply to  David Schofield
September 23, 2015 7:07 am

The problem with these fools is this: ask 100 refugees why they are fleeing and hardly any will say due to hot weather or drought. It’s called barrel bombs, no jobs, poorly paid jobs, civil war, bullets, beheadings, suicide bombers, insecurity et. al.

September 23, 2015 12:28 am

There ya go! And I thought there were already 50 million climate refugees in 2010. Perhaps they are like Kevin Trenberth’s heat — hiding 😉

Reply to  The Pompous Git
September 23, 2015 5:36 am

The New Zealand deportee was aiming to be the seeking to be the world’s first climate change refugee. Climate change can cause refugees. This is obvious, but his aim is false.

Abstract – October 1998
Sun, climate, hunger, and mass migration
Paleoclimatic studies indicate four epochs of global cooling during the last 4 000 years,…..Historical records show that large demographic movements in history took place because of crop failures and mass starvation, rather than escaping from war zones. The “wandering” of the Germanic tribes during the first two or three centuries of the Christian Era is one example….
Abstract – December 1997
Interdisciplinary investigations of the end of the Norse Western Settlement in Greenland
The loss of the Norse Western Settlement in Greenland around the mid-fourteenth century has long been taken as a prime example of the impact of changing climate on human populations…… Archaeological, palaeoecological and historical data specifically concerning the Western Settlement suggest that Norse living conditions left little buffer for unseasonable climate, and provide evidence for a sudden and catastrophic end around the mid-fourteenth century….The research synthesized here suggests that, while periods of unfavourable climatic fluctuations are likely to have played a role in the end of the Western Settlement, it was their cultural vulnerabilities to environmental change that left the Norse far more subject to disaster than their Inuit neigh bours….
Abstract – January 2013
Reclamation and revolt: Social responses in Eastern Inner Mongolia to flood/drought-induced refugees from the North China Plain 1644–1911
In the present study, Eastern Inner Mongolia (EIM) and the North China Plain (NCP) during the Qing Dynasty (1644–1911) were selected as study areas…..
We quantitatively analysed social response in EIM to climate refugees from NCP…..
Monthly Labor Review – February 1936
Vol. 42, No. 2
Drought Refugee and Labor Migration to California, June-December 1935
THE from drought 1933 to which early struck 1935 was large particularly sections of acute the United on the States Great from 1933 to early 1935 was particularly acute on the Great Plains….Following drought, and the depression which preceded drought, streams of stricken people began to seek refuge by migration to other regions…..
Canadian Geographer – 1958
Permafrost investigations in the MacKenzie Delta
Investigations in 1954
Problems with permafrost arise from the fact that soils which contain large amounts of ice become almost liquid when the ice melts. If such adverse ground conditions are ignored in foundation design, serious building failures may result.
These failures are caused by movements of the thawed soil Because the high ice content of the deltaic silts makes them unsuitable for building foundations, and for other reasons (improper sanitation, danger frornflooding, no airstrip), the Canadian government decided late in 1953 that a new townsite should be found for Aklavik….

University of Saskatchewan Archives – Northern Research Portal
Aklavik: Impact of Climate Change on a Northern Community
….By 1952 some 1500 people, as well as government services, were based in Aklavik. Mission hospitals and residential schools continued to attract people from the surrounding region but erosion of the Peel Channel banks had led to melting permafrost and severe flooding, prompting the Federal Government to construct Inuvik with the intention of relocating the Aklavik community. In 1961 most services and many residents were moved, but some decided to remain in their homes…..
Polar Record – Volume 11 / Issue 71 / pp 145-154 / May 1962
Inuvik, Canada’s new Arctic town
Gordon B. Pritchard
During the summer of 1952, investigations were carried out in the town of Aklavik to assess its possibilities for expansion through the addition of educational, health, and administrative facilities, and the construction of an airstrip to serve the community. The unsatisfactory local conditions uncovered by those investigations led the Advisory Committee on Northern Development to recommend that Aklavik should be moved to a new and more stable site. This recommendation was accepted in December 1953 and the Advisory Committee was given the responsibility of selecting a new site.
Cambridge University Press 1962

Reply to  Jimbo
September 23, 2015 5:36 am


United Nations Environment Programme – 6 December 2005
Pacific Island Villagers First Climate Change “Refugees”
A small community living in the Pacfic island chain of Vanuatu has become one of, if not the first, to be formally moved out of harms way as a result of climate change. The villagers have been relocated higher into the interior of Tegua,……
Washington Times – 19 April 2009
The worlds first climate refugees are thought to be the 500,000 inhabitants of Bhola Island in Bangladesh, who were left homeless after half of the island became permanently flooded in 2005
Guardian – 25 November 2005
Pacific Atlantis: first climate change refugees
Yesterday a decision was made that will make their group of low-lying islands literally go down in history. In the week before 150 countries meet in Montreal to discuss how to combat global warming and rising sea levels, the Carterets’ people became the first to be officially evacuated because of climate change.
Independent – 19 August 2005
Steve Connor: Alaska, home to the world’s first global warming refugees
… It made hunting for bearded seals or “ugruks” more precarious with the increased risk of falling through the thinner ice, said Benjamin Neakok, a resident of the north Alaskan outpost of Point Ley….
Chicago Tribune – 2 May 2007
The first refugees of global warming
Bangladesh watches in horror as much of the nation gives way to sea
On Bangladesh‘s southern coast, erosion driven in part by accelerating glacier melt and unusually intense rains already has scoured away half of Bhola Island, which once covered an area nearly 20 times the size of Chicago.
Independent – 20 August 2006
Has Hurricane Katrina created the world’s first “climate refugees”?
…”We estimate that at least 250,000 of them have established homes elsewhere and will not return,” said, Lester Brown, the director of the Earth Policy Institute. “They no longer want to face the personal trauma and financial risks associated with rising seas and destructive storms. These evacuees are now climate refugees.
“Those of us who track the effects of global warming had assumed that the first large flow of climate refugees would be in the South Pacific with the abandonment of Tuvalu or other low-lying islands. We were wrong.”…
Google Books – 2011
Early Warming: Crisis and Response in the Climate-changed North
By Nancy Lord
Al Gore’s documentary crew came, and Gore has referred to the people of Shishmaref as “the first climate refugees.” A group of scientists and evangelical …
Guardian – 30 March 2008
…According to the geologist Sugata Hazra, who is the director of the School of Oceanography Studies at Kolkata’s Jadavpur University, the people of the Sundarbans are the first global-warming refugees. He said: ‘These people are victims of global warming. The accelerated melt of the Himalayan glacier…
Smithsonian Magazine – 7 August 2014
The World’s First Climate Change Refugees Were Granted Residency in New Zealand
A Tuvalese family said they can’t go home because of climate change
This summer, a family from the Polynesian island nation of Tuvalu became the world’s first to gain residency in another country as climate change refugees, the New Zealand Herald reports….

Reply to  Jimbo
September 23, 2015 10:07 am

Well Jimbo It’s only fun to report if it’s the first evah. or largest evah, or furthest evah! Silly reporters

Reply to  The Pompous Git
September 23, 2015 6:14 am

Yea, they are hiding in the Mediterranean Sea. 🙁 Sadly, many of them died in the process. Should Ms Merkel say something like “you are not welcome”, I great deal of lives would have been saved. If there were an appropriate Green Card system for EU, there were no market for smugglers who take thousands of euros and your life for entrance.

September 23, 2015 12:33 am

Of course he wasn’t a climate refugee : coral islands are the safest places to live when sea levels rise as they rise along with the sea (as Darwin figured out). However, it may be that it isn’t a bright idea to build modern cities there – pouring tons of concrete and asphalt on top of living corals; not to mention pumping out too much fresh water from the scarce supply under the islands, thus drawing in salt water. It may well eventually prove an unfortunate place to settle (thus forcing people to move) – but not because of climate change.

Leo G
Reply to  AndyE
September 23, 2015 5:17 am

Not a climate change refugee then. A climate chicane refugee perhaps? The big question now is whether the UN can hide the chicanery 50 million times.

Reply to  AndyE
September 23, 2015 5:26 am

He argued for years that his family’s health would be at risk if they return to Kiribati, which is endangered by rising sea levels and water supplies contaminated by salt and sewage.

Sea level has been rising for thousands of years. Here is the other side of this story of degradation and filth. But first this.

The dynamic response of reef islands to sea-level rise: Evidence from multi-decadal analysis of island change in the Central Pacific
Abstract – 10 FEB 2014
Evidence for coral island formation during rising sea level in the central Pacific Ocean

Now onto the dirty little secrets they don’t want you to know about. No wonder he left Kiribati!

24 September 2012
Quarrying for sand gravel in Kiribati’s most populated atoll island South Tarawa will soon be replaced by a safer and a more sustainable alternative – lagoon dredging……
The mining has caused severe coastal erosion problems on the already vulnerable atoll island……During this time, a continuing stress highlighted since the 1980s has been the damaging impact of beach mining on shoreline systems, caused by intense and unsustainable extraction of aggregates.
Abstract – 16 November 2007
Ian White et. al.
Challenges in freshwater management in low coral atolls
…..Storm surges and over-extractions cause seawater intrusion, while human settlements and agriculture can pollute shallow groundwaters. Limited land areas restrict freshwater quantities, particularly in frequent ENSO-related droughts. Demand for freshwater is increasing and availability is extremely limited……
Abstract – 2006
Three-Dimensional Imaging of Lagoon Aggregate Extraction and Resources: Case Study from Majuro Atoll, Marshall Islands
Carbonate sediments are the sole indigenous source of aggregate for infrastructure development on many Pacific islands, and their importance has increased markedly since the middle of the last century. Biogenic gravel and sand are extracted in many places by dredging of shallow lagoons and by the mining of beach deposits….
Abstract – 2010
Impacts of Recreational Divers on Palauan Coral Reefs and Options for Management
…Guides identified natural impacts (63% of respondents) and divers (34% of respondents) as the primary causes of damage to coral….
Abstract – 7 Jun 2010
Donovan Storeya et. al.
Kiribati: an environmental ‘perfect storm’
….over-extraction of freshwater from groundwater sources have been consistent problems in water management. Most pollution is …
[Google search snippet – quote in PDF]
Paper 5: Status of Coral Mining in the Maldives: Impacts and Management Options

Reply to  AndyE
September 23, 2015 6:22 am

pouring tons of concrete and asphalt on top of living corals

Oh those corals are dead for good already. The living coral lives in well-lit sea. It grows a lot.

Estimates of gross production generally range between 0.8 and 1.4 kg/m2-yr for whole reefs and from 2.1 to 8.9 kg/m2-yr for specific reef zones.

The coral sand is not going to end as long as the coral grows. And while coral may bleach, it appears to be something which is not a permanent state of affairs. However, king tides at typhoon time are not funny on a coral island.
(BTW, I recently learned what is ‘Yule tide’ – Swedish ‘jultid’)

Reply to  Hugs
September 23, 2015 4:09 pm

OOPS, well perhaps they don’t build airports out in the salty ocean – but cities and airports inland will surely be covered with sands as the cyclones arrive. As you say, it is not really an ideal place to settle. So perhaps we are obliged to help the islanders at least not to increase their numbers.

John V. Wright
September 23, 2015 12:42 am

Love the Freudian slip in the caption, Anthony – “National flat of Kiribati….”. Those sea level rises even inundate the unconsciousness…

Reply to  John V. Wright
September 23, 2015 4:49 am

If the sea keeps rising, you wont be able to see the sun on the flag, only the bird.

September 23, 2015 1:44 am

Wait a minute! CAGW could happened somewhere else but not in europe? Well that makes sense, sectarian fighting had nothing to do with it. I wish there was another country I could go to, but this is the best there is and it’s going in the wrong direction. If there were such a place I wonder if I could be a climate change refugee? … I know it’ll be worse than we thought once the evil co2 starts heating up in earnest. Im just thinking like a true believer. I can just see all the French and Germans packing up to leave for Syria. Or Siberia.. where it will be a very nice . It could happen.. or it will happen according to the IPCC..

Keith Willshaw
Reply to  rishrac
September 23, 2015 3:15 am

A cooling period is rather more likely historically and another Little Ice Age event would make North Africa look rather attractive. I wonder how the Algerians would feel about 20 million Frenchmen settling there.

Reply to  Keith Willshaw
September 23, 2015 5:08 am

Good point Keith. There have been several pieces recently on “Watts up with that?” Whose authors postulate a period of Global cooling in the near future. We could all be heading in the other direction inside fifty years or so!

Reply to  Keith Willshaw
September 23, 2015 8:59 am

Every winter millions upon millions of Europeans head south as climate refugees. 🙂 For some odd reason many head off to Kiribati! Unprecedented according to the chart below.

International tourism – number of arrivals in Kiribati

September 23, 2015 3:55 am

There is more to this chap than just being a “climate refugee”. Good riddance I say.
Stamper [NZ]

September 23, 2015 5:32 am

When winter hits in the EU, I suspect there will be a lot of refugees going the other direction. !!

Reply to  AndyG55
September 23, 2015 6:27 am

Darn true. Every year millions of Europeans literally find their refuge at southern countries for a week or two. Now that I think of it, I’ve spent personally a week or two every year somewhere south. Often this has happened during the hottest summer, since even the hottest summer is not hot enough here.
I’m a part-time climate refugee!

Reply to  Hugs
September 23, 2015 9:12 am

So, tourist numbers up in Kiribati. Now what about other countries in that area of the Pacific.

In Quarter 1, 2015, the Pacific ACP and SPTO member countries2 received a total of 380,870 tourists. When compared to the same period in 2014, this showed a 7% increase.

Can I conclude that sea level rise causes an increase in visitor numbers?

September 23, 2015 6:24 am

Come to America and they will host a major banquet for him at the WH for the triple play of climate change victim, refugee, and minority. Or just assemble a homemade clock in a briefcase.

Tom in Florida
Reply to  Resourceguy
September 23, 2015 7:06 am

Or buy one from Radio Shack and make it look like you assembled it.

Reply to  Tom in Florida
September 23, 2015 11:04 am

Details, details. The WH has no room for details.

September 23, 2015 6:49 am

I wonder if I could qualify as a climate consensus refugee?

September 23, 2015 6:57 am

The Kiribati government holds the unique world record for spending 100% of the country’s GDP; how proud they must be…
The Kiribati government hacks pull this off from UN largess and subsidies from Australia and New Zealand taxpayers.
It doesn’t surprise me at all that Kiribati is trying to extort more money through the CAGW scam.

The Original Mike M
September 23, 2015 9:25 am

Reference: (includes Kiribati)
South Pacific Sea Level and Climate Monitoring Project
Monthly Sea Level and Meteorological Statistics
I did an OLS on Kiribati mean data in Excel, (what a pain, why no csv format BOM?) That came out to 4.1 mm/year but a lot of that is from a severe dip in 1998.

September 23, 2015 10:12 am

The consolation prize is to go after climate change mitigation wealth redistribution funding to build a beach resort complex. Or does that only go to Muslim state applicants in the Indian Ocean?

September 23, 2015 12:41 pm

In the late 1940s, a British Government survey concluded that Kiribati (then known as the Gilbert islands) could not sustain a population of more than about 25,000. This is mainly because of the availability of fresh water. Kiribati’s population now exceeds 100,000. A couple of weeks without rain (the only source of fresh water) and they start sucking up the ocean. To their credit, the Kiribati Government acknowledge this, and are trying to buy land overseas to resettle some of their excess population. imho every so-called climate refugee is an excess population refugee.

Reply to  Andrew
September 23, 2015 1:44 pm

Andrew, you have a point! That salty water they complain about is due to over-extraction from wells and pumps of the freshwater.

Drilling for water in Kiribati
…The population of South Tarawa has grown from only 3,013 in 1931 to over 40,311 by 2005. Such rapid growth has led to a population density as high as 15,000 people per square kilometre on the narrow atoll islands. Tokyo, famous for overcrowding, has a population density almost three times lower….
A KAPII (Kiribati Adaptation Program – Pilot Implementation Phase II) working crew recently completed a two month long project to drill boreholes required to assess the thickness of the underground freshwater lens in Tarawa. The lens is made up of rain water that has infiltrated the soil of the atoll. This freshwater then actually floats on top of a layer of saltwater directly beneath each island….

So, we have people damaging their island through sand mining, gravel extraction, over-extraction of water and blame climate change. The same can be said for many of the other atolls.

Alexander K
September 23, 2015 1:34 pm

This would-be Climate Refugee is nothing more than an overstayer desperate for grounds to remain in NZ. He has a violent and aggressive history with former co-workers in NZ, who were all pleased to see him depart from their workplace forever. His cause has been promoted by a particularly silly Socialist politician who has a track record of making false claims about a range of issues, and aided by gullible Greens.

September 23, 2015 3:22 pm

Has this guy tried asking Obama for asylum in Alaska?

Reply to  Dawtgtomis
September 23, 2015 3:23 pm

…or even Cook County Il.

Reply to  Dawtgtomis
September 24, 2015 6:26 am

Relocate in Detroit? It is cold there plus lots of empty spaces to colonize.

September 24, 2015 9:01 pm

You all just quote from others whom write about atoll but not actual see or experinse what had happen during high tide and cyclone in the atoll island… well water were fill with salt/sea water…
We are proud to be IKiribati and only one person tries his luck for his family… what happen with that… he ask/ requesting but not like Palangi whom came to the NZ or Aussie and take over by force and discriminating people that already been there for ages… chao

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