Tonga MAF warns against harvesting and exporting of sandalwood

The warning came after the Ministry received reports that sandalwood plants had been harvested and stolen in Ha’apai.

Kaniva News reports that Sione Foliaki from the Ministry’s office in Tongatapu said he is aware of the reports.

He said it was announced on local radios reminding the public that harvesting and exporting of the “protected” plant is illegal.

According to the Ministry it “could be classified as a threatened species in the sense that it is very vulnerable to theft – so much so that the Tonga Timber Company is no longer planting sandalwood.”

Tonga's Teufaiva Stadium set to re-open

Teufaiva was badly damaged in February's Cyclone Gita, less than a year after the ground was reopened following a $US1.5 million dollar upgrade.

Prior to that, the stadium was out of commission for international events, with no test rugby played at the ground for eight years.

The CEO of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in Tonga, 'Onetoto 'Anisi, said work to upgrade the field has now been completed, thanks to assistance from the New Zealand government, and the focus has moved to widening the running track to meet IAAF standards.

Tonga's PM wants regional push for China to forgive debts

'Akilisi Pohiva says Tonga is two years overdue on Chinese loan payments, but will this year pay $US14 million towards its outstanding $US160 million debt.

He told the Samoa Observer that if Pacific Islands don't pay their debts to China's government, it will seize their assets as collateral.

He says the only option for Tonga and other indebted nations is to ask China to forgive the debts.

Mr Pohiva has repeatedly asked China's government to forgive Tonga's debt, which is a substantial portion of the kingdom's GDP, or convert the loans to grants.

Tongan police officer arrested following drug raid

The suspects were arrested during a drug at a home in Ngele’ia.

The Police Drug Taskforce seized 8.32 grams of methamphetamine, 1.32 grams of cannabis seeds, cash, electronic devices and a live bullet during the raid.

The police officer who was off-duty has now been suspended from work.

Magistrate Salesi Mafi has ordered all 5 suspects to be remanded in police custody until Friday, 17 August 2018.

Police investigation continues.


"Peace Ark" hospital ship arrives in Tonga for visit and medical services

The "Peace Ark" hospital ship is the third Chinese naval ship to visit Tonga after the previous visits by the training ship "Zhenghe" and the guided missile frigate "Mianyang" of the PLAN.

"The purpose of this tour to Tonga, with the mission of providing medical services, is to carry forward the international humanitarian spirit, strengthen exchanges between the two militaries, and promote the view of harmony", Rear Admiral Shen Hao, commanding officer of the "Harmonious Mission - 2014", said at the welcoming ceremony.

Former Tongan PM's case adjourned again

The noble's court case was expected to be heard on 9 August and has been adjourned numerous times due to various filing of document needs and related matters.

Kaniva Tonga News reported the latest adjournment was requested to allow the defence more time to prepare for the trial.

Tu'ivakano was arrested on 1 March and charged with 10 counts, including one of making a false declaration to obtain a passport, two perjury counts, five for accepting bribes and two counts of money laundering.


PRPW says Pacific under-represented at World Rugby

The PRPW has launched a campaign to address what they call the under representation of Pacific nations at the council.

'Seats At The Table' is a new initiative seeking to highlight the fact that Samoa, Tonga and Fiji have less voting power on the council than Canada, Georgia, Romania and the USA and far less influence than Japan and Italy.

Samoa, Tonga and Fiji have a share of two of the 48 votes on the World Rugby Council - those two votes are held by Rugby Oceania, which represents 12 countries, including New Zealand and Australia.

New Zealand thump Tonga 14-0

Hoping to deliver another solid performance like their opening 45 against Papua New Guinea, Tonga came out buoyant and ready to deliver.

However the mood quickly turned when keeper Sionela Lui slipped, allowing Robert Tipelu to finish into an empty net in the 15th minute.

Conceding such an unfortunate early goal seemed to dampen Tongan spirits and it was all downhill from there for the Polynesian side as they struggled to hold up to the onslaught from their more experienced opponents.

PNG brothers star against Tonga

Originally from the beautiful Madang province, Jonathan and Abraham grew up in a family devoted to football.

Their father is a coach at the Madang football club in the semi-professional PNG National Soccer League (NSL).

Madang is a province known for producing some of PNG’s top footballers including the Komolong brothers, Alwin and Felix and former Lae City Dwellers striker Raymond Gunemba.

The province is the most football-obsessed region in the Melanesian nation.

Tonga asks for Japanese aid for airport

The Prime Minister 'Akilisi Pohiva met with Japan's Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs, Iwao Horii, and took the opportunity to raise the matter of funding for the project.

Tonga's government wants to extend the runway at Fua'amotu by 400 metres and estimates it will cost over $US17 million.

Mr Horii said his government looked forward to receiving more details through their embassy regarding the extension and also the possible renovation of the airport terminal.