Tuvalu Thanks New Zealand For Held In Filling ‘Borrow Pits’

Leftover from WWII, covering of holes improves appearance of Funafuti

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, June 6, 2016) – Tuvalu's government has thanked New Zealand on the completion of the project to fill in the 70-year-old borrow pits on Funafuti.

The pits had become collections of stagnant water and rubbish close to poor housing estates and blamed for the spread of disease.

They were created by United States military who built the atoll's airstrip with the coral during the Second World War.

The Tuvalu foreign minister, Taukelina Finikaso, said the capital now looked far more appealing.

"It has really made a difference to our islands, our small islands. The topography is very different now and it's beautiful, that's the most beautiful thing about it, the island is much more beautiful now without those brackish waters we used to have at the front."

Radio New Zealand International
Copyright © 2016 RNZI. All Rights Reserved

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The so-called "borrow pits" were bulldozed out to provide fill and paving for the Second World War airstrip on Funafuti and several other of the atolls in Tuvalu. While this was a necessity in wartime, as the airfields were used to launch strikes against Japanese positions in the Gilbert Islands and the Marshall Islands, the pits were never re-filled, despite promises from the Americans. As noted in the article, they made a significant part of the narrowest strip of Funafuti atoll almost unusable, while proving a convenient place for tossing rubbing (an increasingly dire problem on atolls) and for mosquitoes to breed. So, bravo New Zealand for helping to mitigate this long-standing problem.

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