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.

43 thoughts on “Failed Kiribati Climate Refugee finally leaves New Zealand

  1. 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.

      • 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.

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

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

    • 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.

    • 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


        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….

    • 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.

  2. 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.

    • 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.

    • 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

    • 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’)

      • 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.

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

  4. 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..

    • 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!

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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?

  8. 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.

    • 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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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