From White River to Nauru

How a young man overcame hardship to become police officer


Financially crippled as a young man in the Solomon Islands, Jonathan Paul Atanikakia has found his calling in the tiny Pacific nation of Nauru.

The 29-year-old, with links to Guadalcanal and Nauru, recently joined the Police force of the Republic of Nauru- after years of financial hardship growing up in White-river, a place he regards as home and where his dream of becoming a full-time Police officer was born.

His story is a reminder of looking at the positives and of a man who defied the odds after leaving high school, his experience in securing informal jobs and later travelling to Nauru where he was fortunate to get recruited into the Police Force.

Mr Atanikakia recalled living in White River as challenging, an environment that modeled his life to where he is now.

“Most people see White River as a place where young people are influenced by drugs, alcohol, beggars and where most young people are into a lot of social activities,” he said.

Despite the social issues at White River community, Atanikakia said many children have lived there since they were kids and have grown to become better citizens today.

When the Sun Weekender asked what go him to secure his job, he emphasized that it was God’s plan even though he was not educated.

Atanikakia had three brothers and seven sisters and lost his father from Guadalcanal when he was only a little boy.

“I was born in Nauru on the 07th July 1997 at the Lieu ae naissance and was only two-month-old when my dad took us back to the Solomon Islands where we resided at White River.

“I was raised in the Solomon Islands and lots of my friends are at White River where we all grew up together.

“The Atanikakia Clans in Honiara are related to my Dad and my mother is originally from Nauru,” he said.

Mr Atanikakia attended White River School from Kindergarten up to grade six.

He then made it through to form one at White River Community High School (CHS) in 2011, but because of the influence of friends was sent home to reside with his uncle on East Guadalcanal to help with gardening to earn money for a living.

“I was disappointed as my education will not continue if I continued to stay with my uncle, so I decided to find another way to earn a living.

“I was interested in attending a computing school, so my parents agreed with me to take computing courses to engage me from other unwanted activities back home.

Despite attending computing class, he was not really interested and only wanted to make use of his life. That alone brough happiness to his parents who saw his intentions of changing is attitude.

“My parents were happy with me so they agreed to put me back to White River CHS to continue with my education. Something strange happened and was not able to complete my form two class.

“I skipped from form one direct to form three,” he recalled.

“After completing my form three, I made it to form four following which outside influence go hold of me again and I was not able to complete my education.

He said that life was really hard for him so he withdrew and left school.

 “I focused then on looking for a job to help my brothers and sisters.

While looking for an opportunity, Atanikakia secured his first job in joining his brother’s construction work at the ITA Hardware where he earned little money to help his brothers and sisters.

“I was not satisfied, so my family made arrangements to fly me to Nauru to look for a job.

“Two weeks later, in 2019, I was in Nauru and joined my uncle’s local construction company where I usually get paid at the end of a week.

“I was inspired and encouraged to apply for the police force in Nauru, but something always reminds me that I did not formally complete my education.

He said his uncle encouraged him to apply to join the force.

 “Later on, that day I submitted my application with hope.

“I thanked God for his love as one week later I was accepted,” he said.   

Since being accepted, he tried his best to meet the stated requirements and obey the Laws mandated in carrying out his duty.

Jonathan Paul Atanikakia and his fellow comrades

“This is my second year in the force and I am learning new experiences and handling a lot of challenges. One of the great challenges I have gone through is completing cases which are so difficult for me but I am doing my best.

“I am proud to protect my country here in Nauru and hope to return to Solomon Islands to serve my country.

Atanikakia encourages young people to never give up on life and keep trying because there are a lot of chances in life.

“I would like to call on those young people who have been through the same road I’ve been on to never give up on life.

“Please my good friends and young people, stop drinking kwaso and involvement in unwanted activities back home that will ruin your life. One day I will be visiting White River to make a difference in the future, to educate our young people.

Today, if you visit the Republic of Nauru, you will see a proud Jonathan Paul Atanikakia wearing a blue uniform of the Nauru police force.

Atanikakia concludes that if one door closes, try look for another door where you can find peace and happiness in your life.

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