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"Project Banaba / Mine Lands, for Teresia" 2017

Wall text

Wall text

Katerina Teaiwa 

Born in Fiji. Banaba, Tabiteuea, Rabi. Lives and works in Kamberri/Canberra, Ngunnawal and Ngambri Country.

Pronouns: she/her 


"Project Banaba / Mine Lands, for Teresia" 2017


three-channel video, sound, 16:9

7:17 minutes

Courtesy of Katerina Teaiwa.

Katerina Teaiwa’s video work Mine Lands, for Teresia combines archival records, images and film that conveys the history of Banaba, a raised coral atoll in the Great Ocean and the artist’s ancestral home, and its intertwined relationship with devastating phosphate mining. The artwork pays tribute to Teaiwa’s late sister Professor Teresia Teaiwa (1968–2017), a revered Great Ocean scholar and poet, whose work was, among many concerns, dedicated to uncovering the history of Banaba. 


Phosphate mining on Banaba began in 1900 when high-grade phosphate, a highly sought after commodity for agriculture, was discovered and mined by Australia, the United Kingdom and New Zealand until the 1980s. As a result of the mining project, the island, occupied by Teaiwa’s ancestors for centuries, was decimated, which forced the Banabans to become displaced. Teaiwa recounts, “while [countries such as] Australia got rich off the exports of its phosphate empire: wheat, dairy and meat, Banaba was being systematically ravaged.”

Teaiwa’s video work is multi-sited across the three channels, symbolic of the dispersed locations of Banabans and the island itself. Mine Lands, for Teresia makes plain the pathways of political and economic colonisation that still today affects te aba (the rock and people of Banaba). As Teresia laments of mining in Banaba, “agriculture is not in our blood. But our blood is in agriculture.” 


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