Kiribati and the ACT

The partnership between the ACT Legislative Assembly and the Maneaba ni Maungatabu Kiribati began in 2008, when the two parliaments agreed to work together under the twin parliaments program run by the Australia region of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.

What is a twin parliament?

Set up by CPA Australia in July 2007, the twin parliament program partners up Australian state and territory parliaments with Pacific parliaments to promote cooperation and collaboration across the region. The direct link allows Pacific parliaments to access the established knowledge of the Australian parliamentary practice and Australian parliament to be challenged to innovate and be exposed to new ideas. Though what each pair of parliaments does with this relationship differs from twin to twin, many offer staff exchanges, support professional development opportunities, and visit one another regularly.

The Kiribati Room

Three people cut a ribbon in front of artwork

In June 2012, the Kiribati Room was opened by Speaker Shane Rattenbury MLA, i-Kiribati Minister of Education Maree Tekanene MP, and Waysang Kum Kee MP (later i-Kiribati Foreign Minister). Formerly known as Committee Room 2, the room was renamed to recognise the partnership between the Legislative Assembly and Maneaba ni Maungatabu.

Used for committee meetings and public hearings, the Kiribati Room is a visible reminder to members and the public of our parliaments' enduring connection. The walls feature woven mats and cowrie shell bowls, both items of high value in i-Kiribati society. Also on display are woodcut prints by Dame Robin White DNZM (Ngāti Awa), a New Zealand artist whose work regularly depicts life and culture in Kiribati.

You can visit the Kiribati Room on our free public tours, run every Wednesday.

About Kiribati

The Republic of Kiribati (said 'ki-ri-bas') or Ribaberiki Kiribati is a large ocean state in central Pacific Ocean, made up of 33 coral atolls and islands which became independent in July 1979. Its land area makes up only 0.1% of the country, with the remaining 99.9% — almost 3,450,000 km2 — being ocean. Kiribati ocean span is significant, with roughly the same end-to-end width as the continental United States of America. Around half of its 116,000 citizens live in the capital Tarawa, with a small diaspora in Australia, New Zealand, and other Pacific nations.

Kiribati has is a unitary presidential republic with two levels of government: local and national. Local government is made up of urban and island councils which blend traditional and democratic governance together. At the national level sits the Kiribati Government, the High Court, Maneaba ni Maungatabu.

Te Maneaba ni Maungatabu

An imposing building facade in Tarawa, Kiribati

The Maneaba ni Maungatabu is Kiribati's national parliament, with a single chamber and 46 elected members. Its name — literally 'the supreme maneaba' — is a nod to the imposing meeting houses (maneaba) which are at the core of village life and community decision-making in Kiribati.

Kiribati's parliamentary system is a blend of the British and American systems. Voters elect their members of the Maneaba from single member electorates across the country using the first-past-the-post system. Kiribati voters also directly elect the Beretitenti (or President) after each election, who are always members of the Maneaba. The Beretitenti chooses who forms their cabinet from the elected members of the Maneaba. Members elect the Speaker of the Maneaba, who is not an elected member and has no vote.

The Maneaba building was built in 2000. In addition to the chamber, the building houses meeting rooms, a library, a separate wing for the executive, and a dining area.

Visit the Maneaba ni Maungatabu's website.

The ACT and Kiribati compared

Republic of Kiribati

  • Population: 116,000 (2017)
  • Land area: 811 km2
  • Parliamentary system: Unicameral
  • Number of members: 46

Australian Capital Territory

  • Population: 426,700 (2019)
  • Land area: 2,385 km2
  • Parliamentary system: Unicameral
  • Number of members: 25

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