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No Pelesitiki Campgain officially launched

Radio & TV Tonga, Nuku’alofa, 27/11/2018

Her Majesty – Queen Nanasipau’u yesterday supported the No Pelesitiki Campaign as guest of honor at their launching of replacement bags.

The No Pelesitiki Campaign is to promote the use of replacement bags such made from coconut leaves and biodegradable material, instead of single-use plastics.

Hon. Fatafehi ‘o Lapaha Filipe – an advocate for this campaign spoke at the launch of the replacement bags and highlighted their importance for Tonga, saying there have been some advantages in using plastic bags but at the same time, it has caused damage to the environment. She then outlined 10 steps that the public can work together to address this issue.

She said that, through this initiative, they are sending out the message that Tonga is contributing to the regional move to ban single-use plastic in the Pacific and from the community level.

She added, this is a community initiative with proactive community leaders standing to find solutions to their problems and implement straight away without waiting for the Government and donors.

Hon. Fatafehi also said that the young people own this initiative and are currently guided and mentored by resource people to lead the initiative with the aim to spread like wildfire and welcomes other villages to replicate what Fasi has started in their own villages.

“I bet most of you do not know how to make an ore. Through this initiative, I am pleased to announce that now I can make an ‘oa. Eight, in the future we look to use this as an economic empowerment tool for some of our ladies without jobs through the selling of replacement bags. Nine, a replanting program is also included as an activity of this initiative to ensure sustainability of resources through the growing of coconut plants. Ten, mindset and lifestyle is changing through the awareness built through this campaign and our community are now becoming more conscious about the use of single-use plastics. And lastly, the replacement bag making sessions is a community gathering of young to old in our church roll every Friday night. “

She added this initiative has strengthened what bonds the people as a community.

“The young people cut down coconut leaves, the mothers and grandmothers and daughters and sisters weave the ore bags and sow fabric bags, the fathers drink kava and sing while we weave. We work as a strong unit to hold the community which is the strength of the Tongan society. Your Majesty, the initiative that you are supporting today with the help of all who are here, can contribute and encourage government’s efforts to ban single-use plastics in Tonga and to join other Pacific Islands in this movement to seek solutions to our global plastic issue.”

Tongatapu 3 MP – Siaosi Sovaleni hopes this campaign will contribute to the reduction of the use of plastic in the country.

“The project’s main focus is to minimize and where possible, to stop the use of plastic in Fasi mo e Afi by finding other options or alternatives such as replacement bags. This is in line with the mission of the Tongatapu 3 council which is the sustainable development including developing and maintaining of a clean environment of the communities of Tongatapu 3. We certainly look forward to working with the FAsi mo e Afi council on this initiative to use lessons learn and best practices from the campaign to share with the rest of the villages in Tongatapu 3.“

Meanwhile, First Secretary of the NZ High Commission’s office – Indra Prasad, shared similar initiatives that the New Zealand government were introducing in NZ and around the Pacific to address this issue.

“Many countries, states and cities around the world have successfully taken action on plastic pollution including here in the Pacific. Niue, Vanuatu & PNG have banned some single-use plastic and Samoa and Fiji plan to faze them out in the next couple of years. In New Zealand, our government is introducing mandatory faze out of single-use plastic bags from the middle of next year as a step towards reducing the negative environmental impacts of plastic waste. During public consultation in NZ, the proposed ban received 92% support from respondents. Many New Zealanders have already changed the way they shop and our government plans to work alongside supermarkets and other retailers to help everyone change to reusable bags over the 6 month faze out period.”

Also attending the program were the Miss Pacific Islands 2018 contestants where the Reigning Miss Pacific Islands – Matauaina Toomalatai showed her support to this initiative.

“My personal opinion on the ‘No Plastic Campaign’ in Tonga, I agree with it. I commend everyone who’s behind the organization for hosting this initiative because it’s important that we raise awareness in among our people and that we remind them daily that plastic is not part of our lives meaning our ancestors way back in the days, they didn’t use plastic to survive and so if they can do it, that means we can do it too. Hence, why they have the handicrafts here. In Samoa, we call it ‘ako niu’, the coconut baskets we use that in replacement of plastic bag and also this movement. Recently, American Samoa ban the use of plastic bags. And so I agree with it. It reminds us of who we are. As Pacific Island people, we rely on the resources that’s around us and not on the resources that’s out of our reach. And so that’s what I think.”

Following yesterday’s launch, these bags, better known as, ‘oa in Tongan along with other biodegradable bags are being sold by the Fasi Town Council and is available for the public to purchase.

© Radio and Television Tonga News