Tonga extends Covid-19 State of Emergency to 12 April

Prime Minister Dr Pohiva Tu’i’onetoa signed the renewal of the declaration commencing 8pm, 15 March until 8pm, 12 April 2021.

The declaration states that Covid-19 remains a continuous public health emergency in Tonga.

Tonga is one of few remaining countries yet to report a Covid-19 case since the World Health Organisation announced the global pandemic in March last year.


Photo file RNZ Pacific Caption:  Prime Minister Dr Pohiva Tu’i’onetoa     

Nishi Trading growers welcome independent farm information management platform

“Everyone is keen and are actively engaging with AgWorld, we’re sharing our experiences and its helping improve production and capacity,” says Minoru Nishi Jnr, the Managing Director of Nishi Trading.

In addition to mentoring and face-to-face meetings, the commercial export business is proposing an enterprise subscription for AgWorld following challenges currently affecting growers.

“We continue to support farmers trialing the software and the main constraint is the cost of subscription for individual farmers.”

Plans for Tongan language policy raises concerns

Currently the English language is being introduced to class three - however, the new policy is looking to re-introduce English from class one to three, which was the case in the past.

According to Dr 'Ana Taufe'ulungaki, in a largely oral society, it is important to teach children the foundational skills of literacy in the Tongan language.

She said it would be more meaningful to them in the Tongan language rather than in a language which is imposed on them.

There is a big concern that the focus on the English language could see the demise of the Tongan language.

Agriculture students in Tonga estimated to earn more than TOP $40,000

“Students of Tupou College and Tonga College plant food for the school’s main meals as well as for selling,” says Office Manager, Mele Asena.

“Growers Federation of Tonga assisted with agricultural tools, seeds, fertilizer and fuel which will be utilized across 50 acres of land. The combined income from the sales of fresh produce by the colleges will be more than TOP$20,000.”

Mele Asena said they were also working with Umataha Youth on 8 acres of land to produce yams where tools, fertilizer and fuel was also provided for the group consisting of 10 females and 15 males.

Tongan soldiers leave for Australia for training

Seven solders will undertake military skills courses with the Australian army once they have completed their mandatory quarantine period.

According to the Australian High Commission in Tonga, the remaining 21 who are crew members of the VOEA Ngahau Koula will travel to Cairns when they have completed quarantine requirements.

They will re-crew the Guardian Class Patrol boat for its passage back to Tonga.

The Ngahau Koula has undertaken a period of maintenance in Australia.

Once it returns to Tonga it will join its sister Ship Ngahau Siliva.

Tonga Government extends Covid-19 Business Recovery Assistance

Prime Minister Dr. Pohiva Tu‟i‟onetoa announced the additional support from the Stimulus package will be March until the end of June 2021.

A statement said the Government has considered the depth and duration of the Covid-19 global pandemic and economic downturn to be longer.

The Prime Minister’s Office said preparations to re-open the border safely is going to be extended beyond 2021 into 2022.

“Two separate surveys in the second and fourth quarters of 2020 confirmed the impact on businesses to be substantial.”

Growing concerns at the state of Tonga's roads

Last year it announced it would commit 300 million pa'anga, or $US128 million, over four years, to rebuild the road network.

RNZ Pacific correspondent Kalafi Moala says little has happened.

He said that in the wake of recent cyclones, the state of the roads is worse than ever.


Photo file


Tonga’s Compost toilet and septic tank project launches in Ha’atafu

Department of Environment Tonga Communications Officer, Iliesa Tora said the Tonga IW R2R Project, under the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, implemented the project.

Tora added that the compost toilet is one of the pilot projects now being implemented at Kolovai Government Primary School and Kanokupolu GPS.

Global Environment Facility is funding the project.

It is managed by the Pacific Ridge to Reef project.

Tonga IW R2R project is working with Tongatapu 5 Youth Council and the communities to implement the compost toilet project.

Tonga can expect 1 to 2 cyclones for rest of cyclone season

A summary of the update TC outlook for Tonga said the next active period for the Southwest Pacific region including Tonga which indicates higher chances of TC formation is predicted to start in the last week of March until mid-April.

The summary was released by the Ministry of Meteorology, Energy, Information, Disaster Management, Environment, Climate Change and Communications (MEIDECC) this week.

There is a 25% chance of at least one severe TC occurring between late March to mid-April.

NZ Prime Minister says vaccine passport important for travel to Pacific

With many living in New Zealand and wanting to travel, Jacinda Ardern emphasised the vaccine is key to a free travel passport.

“A lot of conversations with our Pacific neighbours, there’s a desire to make sure that we’re protecting our most vulnerable,” she says.

“And so any country I think that is looking to open up and have movement again, is aware that unless we have a vaccination programme that reaches our most vulnerable they are at risk.