Nonouti island is the third-largest in the Gilbert Group and it is the fifth-largest in Kiribati when combining all three regions (Gilbert., Line and Phoenix). There are nine villages in Nonouti island and the village of Matang serves as the government center for the atoll which includes an administration building, the police station and a hospital. The history of the island started with the arrival of traders and whalers in the early 1800s. Later in the 1870s, two Nonouti resident (Betero and Tiroi) onboard a recruiting ship that came about to recruit people to work in Tahiti. During their stay in Tahiti, they became members of the Roman Catholic Church. Their belief was so strong that when they returned to Nonouti in about 1880, they started converting people to join the church. As of today, majority of residents belonged to the Catholic Church.
Nonouti Island is also the home of the first president of Kiribati who is also the youngest amongst the latest leaders of Kiribati who become president at the age of 30 and remain stands as a Member of Parliament for the island till today.
Nonouti Island is unique for being the first island in Kiribati to have the Roman Catholic Church established in 1888. A monument in commemoration of this historical events was erected in Taribo at Taboiaki Village.
The island also has the largest and oldest Maneaba in Kiribati known as “te Aake” (the ark) was built on Taboiaki village as a symbol of Nonouti as the first island in Kiribati where the Roman Catholic faith was pioneered.