MEDIA RELEASE (16 February 2015)
Hon. PM ‘Akilisi Pohiva and his delegation touched down at the Salote Pilolevu airport to a rapturous welcome and applause by the people of Ha’apai on the 12th January. A human canon ball rolled down towards the plane as the 200 strong and noisy crowd cheered and clapped the Hon. Prime Minister as he led his delegation in an open truck, decked with flagrant flowers, leis and the best weaved mats and tapa cloths, specifically prepared by people from his Kauvai island, as the noisy, colorful procession clapped, cheered and crawled its way to Pangai where the official welcome and traditional and cultural protocols were held, including special ta’olunga from his extended Lotava families.
This was followed by the swearing-in ceremony of the Governor of Ha’apai, Mo’ale Finau at his LDS ward in Hihifo. The church was packed to capacity, with only standing room available, outside. The official appointment of Mo’ale Finau, by His Majesty, King Tupou VI, was read out by the Interim Chief Secretary to Cabinet, ‘Aholotu Palu. Mo’ale Finau becomes the first Governor to be nominated from outside the nobles. Significant, although the sole decision to appoint a governor rests with the PM, it still needs “royal assent” from the King, which he agreed to without hesitation.
The Hon. PM congratulated the newly appointed Governor, and advised him to appreciate and uphold the great honor endowed on him by His Majesty. With increasing power and authority vested in any prominent position, there is temptation, at times, to abuse the power therein, Hon. PM ‘Akilisi Pohiva reminded the new appointee. The Governor of Ha’apai is responsible for “all the people in your island group; its governance, administration, stewardship and care of all constituents.”
In a light-hearted banter by none other than the Minister of Infrastructure, the Hon. Lavulavu brought the congregation to occasional fits of laughter, as he related past incidents of their comradeship with the new appointee as they went through the LDS universities in Hawaii, together. Upon completion, Mo’ale knew of only one place he was going to serve, and that was Ha’apai, and he has been here since. There was one piece of advice that gripped the audience in uncontrollable fits of laughter proffered by the colourful Minister as he launched his funny anecdotes and overly exaggerated oracles at the Governor. “You are no saint”, he beamed at his close friend. “Only Jesus Christ is, followed by those elders who are sitting behind the guests of honor, and you, a distant third”, Hon. Lavulavu advised his good friend with humor. “When work needs to be done for public good and cause,” Lavulavu recited, “work is addressed in timely, organized haste, with calculated, measured and responsible approach and implemented with succinct nous, experience and skill. Take this advice brother, do it and Ha’apai will love you,” the colorful politician advised his close friend, amidst clapping and enthusiastic applause from the crowd.
Elder Tukuafu, who came together with the Hon PM ‘Akilisi Pohiva on the plane, spoke of the delight of his congregation with the nomination. He digressed in his speech, by recounting a touching moment as the plane touched down. Looking out he saw the smiles and the delight in the faces of the enthralling crowd as they awaited the Hon. PM. Instead, they were met by the LDS elder and then the Hon. PM ‘Akilisi Pohiva. “Such humility”, elder Tukuafu recounted, “is difficult to be seen in civic receptions as honorary guests are often caught up in the commotion. I am touched with the gesture”, as he told the crowd of what the PM told him to do inside the aircraft, to disembark first,” he said softly as he fought back the tears and the welling emotion.
From the LDS church, the parliamentary procession cut across to the Wesleyan hall for the celebration in Hihifo. After the speeches and the ensuing protocols, the guests of honour took their seats while the hall filled to capacity with people who came to take part in the inauguration of the Governor and the Prime Minister, enjoying the dancing, the raptures, the friendly banter and the lavishly prepared feasts put in front of them, by the participating hosts and friends of the Governor.
After a hectic five hour spell of seemingly, never ending celebration, ta’olunga and feasting, the delegation welcomed the call for the PM’s party to retreat to their residence where they wound down and caught some very much needed rest. The party flew out on Friday morning to Tongatapu, to complete the chores for the week.