Restoration time is now

Group photo after the Sunday Service mass at the Cathedral of Saint Mary in Ma’ufanga to mark the launch
of the 2021 National Environment Week. Photo: Iliesa Tora/Enviro News

Nuku’alofa- June 9, 2021: 9.30am (Enviro News): We must take deliberate steps to move from crisis to healing and in so doing, recognize that the restoration of nature Is imperative to the livelihoods and well-being of our people.

That was the message from the Minister for Environment (MEIDECC), Hon Poasi Tei during the Fanga’uta Lagoon Day celebrations, as part of the 2021 National Environment Week celebrations.

The United Nations Environment Programme or UNEP, annually organizes events for World Environment Day, which encourages worldwide awareness and action for the protection of the environment.  It is celebrated on 5 June in over 100 countries, but Tonga celebrates it over a week.

Speaking at the Falemasiva Hall, Tailulu College on June 2, the Hon Minister said the “Fanga’uta Lagoon Day” should remind us of what the lagoon has provided to the 55% of Tongatapu’s population living around the lagoon, and why it is important to restore and rehabilitate resources that have been depleted, due to many reasons.

Environment (MEIDECC) chief executive officer Paula Ma’u planting a tree to mark Environment Day in Toloa during the 2021 National Environment Week. Photo: Iliesa Tora/Enviro News

He said 2020 was a year of reckoning, where Tonga and the world faced multiple crises, including a global pandemic and the continued crises of climate, nature and pollution.

This year’s global theme is “Ecosystem Restoration” and focuses on resetting our relation with nature.

Tonga’s theme for this year is ’Atakai Mo’ui Lelei OR “Healthy Ecosystems”. 

“Today, we wanted to celebrate “Fanga’uta Lagoon Day”, to remind us of what the lagoon has provided to the 55% of Tongatapu’s population living around the lagoon, and why it is important to restore and rehabilitate resources that have been depleted, due to many reasons,” Hon Tei said.

“We must take deliberate steps to move from crisis to healing: and in so doing, we must recognize that the restoration of nature Is imperative to the livelihoods and well-being of our people.”

Hon Tei along with the Chinese Ambassador to Tonga, His Excellency Ciao Xiaolin were also present to award prizes to members of the community, including students who had participated in the Fanga’uta Day stall displays, the Secondary School’s Quiz Competition, Story Writing competition and the Tiktok Competition.

“Our students, communities, Church’s, and the public at large have advocated Tonga’s theme for this year, by participating in our annual school quiz competition, social media campaigns, community tree planting programmes, church sermons, and science and art exhibitions, in the hope that it may inspire a movement of people, businesses and governments to take a step forward in protecting and restoring our natural ecosystems, as we all benefit from its services,” he added.

Hon Poasi Tei and Chinese Ambassador Ciao Xiaolin being given a tour of stalls at the Fanga’uta Day on June 2.
Photo: Iliesa Tora/Enviro News

The Chief Executive Officer for Environment (MEIDECC), Mr Paula Ma’u also acknowledged and thanked all the sponsors for the week’s different activities and programs.

The sponsors for the different actives were the Chinese Embassy, Australian High Commission,  Tonga Communication Corporation, Five Star Finances Company Limited, Tonga Broadcasting Commission, Ministry of Environment for Italy, Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme, and ASCO Motors.

During the week the staff of the Department of Environment were also involved with different activities, including the tree planting program at Ha’asini Village, Tupou College and the rubbish pick-up program along Vuna Road from the Hahake Bus Stand to the domestic wharf.

Meanwhile, the Department of Environment in Vava’u also held programs during the week with VEPA.

That included a school’s quiz competition, a Talatalanoa Session plus waste collection program from some of the outer islands.

Students participating in the school’s quiz competition in Vava’u. Photo: SUPPLIED

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