Tonga to visit from 15 cruise ships

Three ships have already visited in January and February bringing thousands of passengers and crew.

The Ministry of Tourism confirmed that Europa 2 will be arriving in Nuku’alofa on Saturday, 18 February.

The cruise ship is expected to bring over 500 passengers and crew for a day's visit.

“March sees more cruise ships arriving and more listings through to December.”

“Five cruise ships visited Tonga for the latter part of last year, after Tonga fully re-opened its international borders, sea/air effective 27 September, 2022.”


Displaced families continue to fight on a year after Tonga’s devastating volcanic eruption

The powerful undersea volcano erupted on January 15, 2022 triggering a violent tsunami which caused widespread damage to the main island of Tongatapu while wiping out smaller, neighbouring islands leaving them uninhabitable.

Tagata Pasifika reports Uatekini Folau and his family were forced to leave their home on ‘Atatā, one of the outer islands near the Hunga-Tonga Hunga-Ha’apai volcano.

“We lost our home and at the moment, even though we are starting over again, we are happy that my family and I are alive,” Uatekini says.  

Tonga’s interim Ombudsman sworn in

This is following the retirement of the current Ombudsman, 'Aisea Taumoepeau, who will be retiring on 18 February.

She will be serving her new position for four-months, effective on 18 February.

The former Minister of Justice took her oath in parliament on 9 February.

 ‘Alisi was the first woman Solicitor General and Attorney General of Tonga, first woman Cabinet Minister and a former Justice Minister.

Tonga’s Royal Trade show to return after 3 years

The break was due to the Covid-19 and the Hunga-Tonga Hunga-Ha’apai volcano and subsequent tsunamis.

A statement said this year’s theme will be 'Recovering from Hunga-Tonga Hunga-Ha’apai'.

Ministry of Agriculture’s Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Viliami Manu said, “It will showcase the hard work of farmers, fishermen tradesmen and local businesses, and also recognize and award them for their hard work and resilience of overcoming what has been a tough couple years, after the natural disasters.”

Tonga's only domestic airline secures overseas help

At a media conference, Tonga's Prime Minister Hu'akavameiliku Siaosi Sovaleni announced Australia would provide technical and financial support for the airline.

Hu'akavameiliku also rebutted media criticism of Lulutai management.

He said management acted quickly when finding out the aircraft was in a state of disrepair.

"When the report came out, it was something we need to address on the plane, it was sent to the manufacturer, and they said the next day to ground the plane, we ground the plane.

Key partnership areas discussed during visit of Australia’s Head of the Office of the Pacific to Tonga

During his visit, McDonald had the honour to meet with key partners including Crown Prince Tupouto’a ‘Ulukalala, Hu’akavameiliku, Prime Minister of Tonga, Samiu Vaipulu, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Justice, Fekitamoeloa ‘Utoikamanu, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Tourism, Tiofilusi Tiueti, Minister for Finance, and Lord Speaker, Lord Fakafanua.

Australia supports Tonga’s domestic connectivity with Lulutai

Australia will provide financial assurances for Lulutai to partner with Fiji Airways to operate up to seven flights a week between Vava’u and Tongatapu during the month of February.

The Australian Government plans to continue these arrangements for this critical connectivity until

at least 30 June 2023, while Lulutai’s fleet undergoes maintenance.

Last week Australia and Tonga worked quickly on a similar arrangement which enabled the restoration of flights between Tongatapu and Vava’u on 30 January.

Tonga to introduce Market Development Facility

The Australian state-funded economic initiative states its mission is to boost local employment and income opportunities.

A statement said the facility will be established with an estimated value of activities worth around AU$3.8 million in its initial four-year phase.

The Minister for Trade and Economic Development, Viliami Uasike Latu and Australia's High Commissioner, Rachael Moore signed a subsidiary arrangement for MDF, on 30 January 2023 in Nuku'alofa.

The program is also confirmed to start recruiting local staff.

Kingdom joins economic initiative

The Australian state-funded economic initiative states its mission is to boost local employment and income opportunities.

Tonga's Minister for Trade Viliami Latu signed the agreement with Australia's High Commissioner to Tonga, Rachael Moore, on Wednesday in Nuku'alofa.

The respective countries said that over $US2 million in investment would be channelled to the Kingdom over the next four years.

Implemented in 2011, Australia's Market Development Facility is active in Sri Lanka, Timor Leste, PNG, Fiji, Samoa and Vanuatu.


Pacific Mental Health Surveys project on mental health challenges in Pacific countries to launch soon

A new research project by Waipapa Taumata Rau | University of Auckland researchers and Pacific partners aims to investigate mental health challenges in Samoa, Tuvalu, and potentially Tonga as these countries navigate the Covid-19 pandemic and the climate crisis.