'I go to church, I take my guns with me': Tongans taking US approach to 'feel secure'

The church bells ring all morning and the smell of the earth oven - known as Umu in Tongan - wafts through the streets.

Tongan farmer Tevita Sanft is a church regular.

The 56-year-old travels from his home to the chapel every Sunday with his family.

It's only a short 10-minute drive, but these days a special passenger comes along for the ride.

"When I go to church, I take my guns with me," he said.

Sanft owns livestock on his small seven-acre farm. And in the past, his firearms were used solely for his work around the property.

Tongans safely evacuate Israel

A statement said “The flight departed at 1:38pm (Israel time) on Saturday 14 October, and landed at Stanstead Airport in England Sunday morning (Tonga time).”

The passengers were accompanied by Major Kaho from the Tonga High Commission in London and some passengers from New Zealand, Australia and Fiji.

Tonga's Prime Minister, Siaosi Sovaleni acknowledged the assitance from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Finance, and the Prime Minister's Office for their successful mission in evacuating Tongans from the war zone.


Tongans 'thankful' to police

RNZ Pacific correspondent Kalafi Moala said Vea said they were at level 21 of the building where the shooting was taking place, about six levels away from the gunman, when they were instructed to leave.

"We ran down to level 15 before we were told to return to level 16 because the shooter was heading our way," he said.

And while they moved to level 16, he heard more gunshots.

Vea said he was thankful that the NZ Police were quick to send the chopper which helped save them, Moala said.

Tongan RSE workers stranded on rooftop by flooding rescued

Auckland Tongan community leader Pakilau Manase Lua said families in Tonga watched on as their relatives filmed while perched on roofs surrounded by tree tops.

He said the scenes were harrowing to watch for the families.

Lua said the Aotearoa Tonga Response Group has been activated to support Pasifika community members.

RNZ Pacific reports Hawke's Bay is one of six regions to have declared a local state of emergency. Just before 9am today the government declared a national state of emergency.


North Central Missouri College welcomes Kingdom of Tonga community

NCMC has developed a partnership with Tongan officials and soon will be enrolling international students from the Kingdom of Tonga.

During the ceremony, remarks were made by President Dr. Lenny Klaver, Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Kristen Alley, and Dean of Instruction Mitch Holder. Also speaking were Viliami Polovili, talking chief on behalf of the Tongan King, Melania Mahu'inga, a NCMC Tongan student, and Melania's father, Talo Mahu'inga.

More than 100 Tongans stranded in Hawaii for up to two years due to Covid-19

 Now, the baby's about two years old.

The mother of seven's been stranded in Hawaii -- and away from six of her children -- since her homeland sealed its borders to keep out Covid-19.

"This is the first time that we have been apart," she said. "I cannot put into words how much I miss them a lot. And how much I yearn just see them. They're not old enough to take care of themselves."

Stranded Tongans better off in NZ, says RSE scheme official

The flight was scheduled to leave Auckland on Thursday.

Air New Zealand postponed its repatriation flight to Tonga because of the volcanic ash clouds from the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcanic eruption last weekend.

Seventy Tongan seasonal workers were among those booked on that flight, with majority of the labourers returning home after as long as two years. Some have not heard from their families since Saturday.

There are 800 Tongan labourers in the Recognised Seasonal Employers Scheme.

Tongans aged 18-year-olds and above urged to get vaccinated

The Ministry of Health has stressed that the current stock of AstraZeneca vaccines expire at the end of today.

MOH Chief Executive Officer, Dr Siale ‘Akau’ola said, “At the same time, those who have had first doses and are due for their second dose anytime in December 2021, can also come before the end of 13 December 2021 to have their second doses too.”

“Lastly, we also encourage those who are overdue to get their second doses to come too.”

According to the ministry, “only a few thousand doses of AstraZeneca” gifted by Australia are remaining.

Tongans in Brisbane lead search for rare blood type donors

Jk-Null is an extremely rare antigen, it predominately found in Tongan, Samoan, and Niuean blood donors.

Paseifika TV and radio broadcaster Sulieni Layt is fronting a campaign to drum up blood donors.

"Our target is to have at least 30 donors based in Brisbane... at the moment we are short two," he said.

Despite the campaign being focused in Brisbane Mr Layt said that people from across the country have reached out wanting to donate.

"Tongans in Tasmania, Victoria and New South Wales... and we've been referring them to their nearest clinics," he said.

Overseas Tongans to have say on democracy, development

 A national dialogue on democracy and development is being held in Māngere in South Auckland on Saturday.

Organiser, political scientist Dr Malakai Koloamatangi, said it followed on from a similar event he organised in Tonga just ahead of a snap election in 2017.

The Tongan diaspora was very keen to have its say over what is happening in Tonga, he said.

"Firstly, of course, the population of Tonga - there's more Tongans overseas than in Tonga itself.