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Ha’apai is the most vulnerable island in Tonga, to natural disaster

Radio & TV Tonga, Nuku’alofa, 18/07/2017


The islands of Ha’apai is believed to be the most vulnerable in the Tonga group to natural disasters.


His Majesty – King Tupou VI highlighted the issue in his address to officially open Ha’apai’s Royal Agricultural Show – 2017 this morning at the Lea’aetohi grounds.


The King first thanked the Lord God Almighty for his many blessings upon his people providing them with the energy and knowledge to be able to display the fruits of their hard labor in today’s event.


His Majesty thanked the related stakeholders for the cooperation to enable the event with the assistance from the Food and Agricultural Organization – FAO.


King Tupou VI was happy with the completion of the renovation work on Tau’akipulu Palace after it was badly damaged from Cyclone Ian in 2014.


He also thanked the People’s Republic of China for the assistance to rebuild and renovate this historic and legendary building.


The King said, Ha’apai is still coping from the negative impacts of Cyclone Ian and the drought season since July 2014.


He said Ha’apai is the most vulnerable island in Tonga because of its many smaller scattered islands and they are distanced from each other as well as low lying areas apart from the volcanic islands of Kao mo Tofua.


The availability of drinking water in Ha’apai is scarce so as the underground water and the islands is defenceless in times of natural disasters such as tsunami, strong winds and cyclones with sea level rising.


His Majesty said, the main source of food supplies and income of the people of Ha’apai is from the ocean and their finest mats and tapas especially from mulberry from the island of Foa and the ‘Otumu’omu’a.


The King questioned, Ha’apai’s emergency capabilities to prepare commodities and goods for times of disaster.


The first option is the ocean, people can get their daily food supplies from the special management areas – SMA and secondly the agricultural produce such as coconuts, breadfruit, oranges and sandalwood which they can withstand the negative impacts of climate change.


His Majesty emphasized the need for everyone to work collaboratively with related partners to be resilient to the negative impacts of climate change such as the sea level rise, stronger cyclones and longer drought periods.


He concluded, by thanking everyone for their hard work and their contribution to this year’s Royal Agricultural Show.


The Number one Noble’s Representative of Ha’apai to Parliament – Lord Tu’iha’angana delivered the reply to His Majesty’s address.


He said, the island is always happy to welcome their Majesties and his words of encouragement will help them to be more resilient and adapt to the negative impacts of climate change.


After the formalities Their Majesties King Tupou VI and Queen Nanasipau’u toured the displays of agricultural, fishery and locally made crafts and products exhibited by the islanders.


Present at the occasion were the Crown Prince -Tupouto’a ‘Ulukalala, Crown Princess and members of the Royal Family.


It followed entertainment and the presentation of prizes.


© Radio and Television Tonga News