Vaitupu: Wikis


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Map of Vaitupu
Vaitupu from space.

Vaitupu is an island, atoll, or district of the Pacific nation of Tuvalu. Vaitupu, the largest island of Tuvalu is located at 7.48 degrees south and 178.83 degrees west. The capital is Asau.


Demographics and history

The exact date of Vaitupu's first settlement is unknown. According to oral history, the founder of the Vaitupuan community was a Samoan by the name of Telematua, who arrived in the 16th or 17th century. However, it is possible that Tongans may have first reached the atoll during the mid-13th century. Vaitupu has maintained contacts with Tonga throughout its history, both peaceful (marriage alliances) and hostile (visits by Tongan slave-seekers). Vaitupu was also visited by I-Kiribati, and was thus far from isolated.[1]

Samoan pastors from the London Missionary Society successfully introduced Christianity in the 1860s. The pastors implemented religious regulations, outlawing many customary practices. They also introduced the Samoan language, as their Bibles were written in Samoan. Vaitupuans became literate in Samoan rather than in their own language.[2]

Vaitupu is home to the second-largest population in Tuvalu, numbering 1,591 (2002 Census). 600 students from ages 13 and 21 are sent here from throughout the archipelago to attend the country's only secondary school, Motufoua. Despite its relatively large size, the island became so overcrowded during the 1940s that several families migrated to Fiji.

Vaitupu received worldwide attention in 2000, when a fire in a dormitory at the Motufoua school killed 18 girls and an adult supervisor. It was later discovered that the fire was caused by a student using a candle to read during the night. The late Prime Minister Ionatana Ionatana declared a national tragedy and quickly travelled to the island to witness the aftermath.

There used to be a primary school called Elisefou (New Ellice) on Vaitupa. The school moved to Vaitupa in 1923 and closed in 1953. Its first Headmaster, D. G. Kennedy, was a known disciplinarian who would not hesitate to discipline his students. The two most famous Tuvaluan from the school were Tuvalu's first Governor General, Sir Penitala Teo, his first Prime Minister, Toaripi Lauti.



The island, which covers approximately 5.6 square kilometers, includes swamps, mangroves, a fringing coral reef and a large lagoon.


Vaitupu atoll consists of at least 9 isles, which are:

There is at least 1 isle inhabited, which is Vaitupu proper.
The biggest island is of course Vaitupu proper, which is followed by Tofia.


The only village on Vaitupu consists of the neighbourhoods Tumaseu and Asau. There is a church, a primary school, at least one guesthouse and a post office. The secondary school (Motufoua) lies on plusminus 2 kilometres, and the hospital on about 1 km.

The small Islet of Temoto in Loto Lagoon is home to a single family of 13 headed by the English born writer Lewis Wade.

How to get here, transportation and tourism

Today, Vaitupu can be accessed by either private boat or the government-operated MV Nivaga II at irregular intervals from Funafuti. There are paths. In the village there is a guest house.

Notable local person

Taukelina Finikaso has served as Minister of Communications and Works in the Government of Tuvalu since 2006. He represents Vaitupu in the Parliament of Tuvalu.

Apisai Ielemia has served as Prime Minister of Tuvalu since 2006. He represents Vaitupu in the Parliament of Tuvalu.

See also


  1. ^ Donald G. Kennedy, "Field Notes on the Culture of Vaitupu, Ellice Islands", Journal of the Polynesian Society, vol.38, 1929, pp.2-5
  2. ^ Donald G. Kennedy, "Field Notes on the Culture of Vaitupu, Ellice Islands", Journal of the Polynesian Society, vol.38, 1929, pp.5-6

Coordinates: 7°28′S 178°41′E / 7.467°S 178.683°E / -7.467; 178.683



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