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Research + Work

Tarawa, Republic of Kiribati



In August 2012 the University of Minnesota Center for World Heritage Studies in coalition with UNESCO conducted a pilot study and capacity building workshop on the island of Tarawa, the Republic of Kiribati.  The focus of this pilot study was to gain a better understanding of the interaction between people, the environment, and cultural customs in Kiribati. Cultural resources for conservation were measured and mapped, specifically looking at architecture and cultural sites referring to early settlment and spiritual tradition.  A digital database was introduced to the local cultural division of the Ministry of Internal & Social Affairs (MISA) to assist in inventory, management, and conservation.

Kiribati is home to the Phoenix Islands Protected Area (PIPA), a natural world heritage site since 2010. PIPA is a 408,250 expanse of marine and terrestrial habitats in the Southern Pacific Ocean. The property encompasses the Phoenix Island Group, one of three island groups in Kiribati, and is the largest designated Marine Protected Area in the world. This area contains a vast array of deep sea habitats and species of fauna. Kiribati is interested in maintaining natural resources in the face of climate change, while also considering the intersection of nature and traditional customs related to cultural heritage in Kiribati.  There is a need for the conservation of cultural heritage found in building methods and architecture as well as significant sites related to early settlement and spiritual tradition in Kiribati.

Field Study Exhibition was held at the University of Minnesota, College of Design.

Download the Kiribati Project Summary