Tonga’s Ocean Plan set for 2021 start

Having had nation-wide consultations in 2018 and 2019, the Tonga Ocean 7 team had hoped to finalise the plan in 2020.

But COVID-19 forced the delay as the Tongan government focused on keeping the kingdom free of the virus.

Environment Chief Executive Officer Paula Ma’u said the delay had given the team more time to review the plan and ensure everything was in place before it was submitted to cabinet.

Tonga's high rates of teenage pregnancy addressed in new report

According to the Adolescent Unplanned Pregnancy in the Pacific: Tonga report, girls were becoming pregnant early in life in part because of conservative social attitudes, ignorance about contraception including male partner's refusal to wear condoms.

The report said cultural, religious and social conventions in Tonga made it hard for women to talk about these issues.

Tongan LDS missionaries stranded overseas on repatriation flight

Tongan Government official, Paula Mau had earlier this week said that the church chartered a Lulutai Airlines aircraft to repatriate the missionaries as well as Tongans stranded in Fiji 

The missionaries travelled to Fiji from their missions and waited for a month for their flight home.

They spent two weeks in quarantine and two weeks with the Fiji Suva Mission missionaries.

The missionaries speak French, Spanish, German, Georgian (Russia) English and Tongan.

Tonga receives first batch of Covid-19 vaccines

Minister for Health, Professor ‘Amelia Afuha’amango Tu’ipulotu confirmed the arrival of the Covid-19 AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccines yesterday (Wednesday).

The vaccines have been made available through the Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) facility.

Tu’ipulotu has confirmed that the rollout will begin on Thursday 15 April 2021.

The rollout will be implemented according to priority groups, as has been the practice, globally.

This is due to limited vaccines available worldwide.

Australia contributes to COVAX vaccines in Tonga

Australia’s $80 million contribution to the COVAX AMC has made this first round of deliveries possible. We will support Tonga deliver these lifesaving vaccines to frontline health workers, quarantine workers, the elderly and other vulnerable people.

“Australia will do this in partnership with your country’s priorities and needs” said Adrian Morrison, Australian High Commissioner to Tonga.

“There is no higher priority for Australia than working with our neighbours to access safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines.”

Amini Fonua making a splash in and out of the pool

He's won a bunch of regional medals in the pool and carried the Tongan flag at the 2012 London Games. 

But his impact outside of the pool as a gay athlete is just as significant, becoming a spokesman and advocate for the rainbow community, particularly Pasifika youth.

"I think it's incredibly important to be a role model for the LGBTQ community, the rainbow community, I don't think we really realise how important role models are until we start growing up and thinking back to what we were like when we were younger. 

Tonga’s MEIDECC launches Climate Change Portal

MEIDECC CEO, Paula Ma’u said the portal will also contain the Tonga National Action Plan II.

The national action plan sets out six policy objectives and targets and an implementation strategy for the country to achieve its vision of a Resilient Tonga by 2035.

Ma’u launched the portal during a training with the media in Nuku’alofa Friday.

The portal will also contain policies, plans and other relevant information related to climate change.

Tonga postpones repatriation flight following Brisbane lockdown

One-hundred and 28 people were expected to arrive on the flight from Brisbane on Friday.

There are 10 new cases of coronavirus in Queensland, four of those locally acquired, with Greater Brisbane to go into a three-day lockdown from this afternoon (5pm Brisbane time).

MEIDECC CEO Paula Mau said the Ministry of Health has advised that it’s best to postpone the Australia flight until further notice in order to protect the country from the coronavirus.

Mau said both flights from New Zealand and Fiji scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday will arrive as expected.

Tonga prison head optimistic of resolution to overcrowding

Hu'atolitoli, on Tongatapu, is badly overcrowded with the Prison Commissioner Semisi Tapueluelu, saying cells built for one were now housing up to four inmates.

Tapueluelu said there were 51 cells, which should each hold one person each, however he said sometimes the prison roster was as high as 180.

There were also inmates with psychiatric issues in Hu'atolitoli because the main clinic at Vaiola Hospital was sending erratic and hard to control patients to the jail.

The commissioner said there were a number of reasons for the growing prison population.

Tonga media engaged in Joint National Action Plan on Climate Change

Media personnel were invited to a workshop to discuss their role as partners in raising awareness about climate change and disaster risk management.

MEIDECC Chief Executive Officer, Paula Ma’u said, “Tonga is extremely vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change and disaster risks, it was ranked as the World’s Second most ‘At Risk’ country to all disasters as stated in the World Risk Report 2016.”