Eni Etuati

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Kelley and Moleski interviewed Etuati in 2003.

  • Born in 1940.
  • A close relative of Tofiga from the same home island, Vaitupu in Tuvalu (formerly known as the Ellice Islands).
  • In a police force from 1959 to 1972. (Part of the Colonial Service?)
  • He was on Nikumaroro only once. As the ships approached from Tarawa, they would send a boat ashore and also send a boat around the island. It was on his single visit that an old gun and knife were found on the beach somewhere between the blasted channel and the village. He thinks the gun may have been a .38 revolver. Both the gun and the knife were "all rotten." Some of the men thought the gun was just a toy.
  • EE indicated WG-20, WG-21, WH-21 and WH-22 on TIGHAR's grid map as the likely area for the gun and knife to have been found.
  • Some stayed in the village and ate coconuts. Some walked around the island on foot (distance uncertain).
  • There were many footprints on the beach. No one should have been there. The fishing boats are prohibited from coming ashore on the islands. But whenever anything is out of the ordinary on the uninhabited islands, "We just blame the fishing boats."
  • Then they went to another island where there was only an airstrip and a beacon (Hull?).
  • Pan Am and the Americans occupied one end of Canton; he and the British lived at the other end.
  • EE played cricket in the first South Pacific Games in 1979.

Afu's search on Christmas Island

  • There was a native woman, Afu, from Tarawa on the same boat that brought him out to Christmas Island. She had worked as a house girl in Tarawa and wanted to find Amelia Earhart's plane because there was "big money" to be made. "Maybe her father was offering a reward."
  • There were lots of wreck sites on Christmas Island. There were many people on the island in the early 60s for the bomb tests.
  • When Etuati met an American in the bar in 1967, the American was surprised that Etuati already knew about the possibility of Earhart coming down in the Line Islands or in the Phoenix Islands. Etuati introduced the American to the Afu, who had told him the whole story. (The American was apparently searching for the lost aircraft, too.)
  • Etuati was 27 in 1967. He thinks Afu may have been 40 or so at the time. She was a tomboy who went out all alone with her dog on Christmas Island and would search for two or three days at a time. She returned to her home island and disappeared one night when she went fishing by herself.