Online and Island Tribal Community Connect on Fijian Island on Sixth Month Anniversary

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Tribewanted.com, a unique online and real world experiment taking place on Vorovoro island in Fiji, celebrates its first six months as a community with a GPRS internet connection linking members on the island with those around the world.

Some would say it was just another sunny day on Vorovoro Island, Fiji. But for this growing online and island community it was much more significant because on March 1st the tribe were connected. Vodafone Fiji arrived to deliver a lap-top and GPRS card so that from the top of the rock behind the Great Bure tribe members were able to log-on.

Ben Keene, Tribewanted founder said: "Before we arrived on Vorovoro we said there were three things we needed to make this work: Water, shelter, and broadband. Its not quite broadband speed but with a mobile internet connection, [a solar panel will power all communications] rainwater collection tanks, fresh fish from the worlds third largest barrier reef, basic village infrastructure and a Fijian community full of smiles and kava, this twenty first century tribe has everything it needs."

He continued: "Its been a crazy few months - a fire on the island in week one, a military coup before Christmas, and a cyclone last week - have all threatened to stop us in our tracks. But thanks to the support of the local people and determination of the online and visiting tribe members, it hasn't. This tribe is very much alive and kicking!"

Tui Mali, chief of Vorovoro island and landowner said during a speech at a traditional kava ceremony to celebrate the six-month anniversary: "The tribes have come from around the world and we are all very happy that they are here as we learn from each other."

Newly elected chief for the month, Craig Enderby, a twenty year old from Wiltshire, England said: "I came here for a two week chill out on an island. Now I'm a chief and I have my very own hut to live in! Its been an experience of a lifetime and I can't believe its happening."

100 of over 1000 tribe members have visited Vorovoro since the first footers landed on the beach in September 2006. Over 100 people from the local community have been employed on the project since Tribewanted arrived in the tourism-sparse north of Fiji. Funds from the island lease and chief's budgets go towards supporting local community projects.

Tribe members take part in the project online before, during and after their stay on Vorovoro and when on the island they choose how much or how little they get involved with the building of the village. The aim is to build a totally sustainable community on Vorovoro, which through the online community more people can learn about responsible tourism. University College London's environmental engineers are currently looking into powering the Vorovoro boats with coconut oil.

Tribewanted is being filmed as an observational documentary and is due to be aired on BBC2 in September 2007.

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Ben Keene
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