Tongan Prime Minister meets Moana Pasifika team

Hon. Hu’akavameiliku, Prime Minister of Tonga, met with Moana Pasifika players at their headquarters at Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland, yesterday ahead of their first flight out of New Zealand to play in Australia.

During the visit, Prime Minister Hu’akavameiliku thanked the players and commended the team for the support shown after the volcanic eruption of January 15th with the fund-raising efforts of Ofa Atu Tonga.

“I would like to thank Moana Pasifika, the rugby team and the organisation, for helping Tonga in their time of need. You have done an outstanding job, and I wanted to congratulate you on what you have done. For all those who supported the [Ofa Atu Tonga] relief fund organised by Moana Pasifika, malo. That contribution has gone a long way in helping us. It was very much appreciated, and I wanted to thank you in person.

“Tonga is very supportive of what you are doing here and continue to do, not just because you have supported us after January 15th, but because we believe it is a good thing for our people to have this platform Moana Pasifika provides. I’m glad to be here and learn about what is happening here with Moana Pasifika. To see your spirits, it’s just amazing.

“Right now, Tonga is going through a recovery process trying to rebuild some of the damaged houses. We are very thankful that Moana Pasifika and EarthX are coming together with a new initiative to help our recovery, called #TongaStrong. The proceeds donated will assist Tonga with our recovery. A big malo’ aupito, thank you very much for supporting Tonga Strong.”

Moana Pasifika Trust chair Laauli Savae Sir Michael Jones spoke of the honour of having Prime Minister Sovaleni significantly ahead of the players’ first journey out of the country.

“You are our first Prime Minister on our whenua, our first dignitary we have hosted. It means a lot to us, our wonderful family and coaches, and our players to have this visit, especially as we travel and to have this blessing.

“We have a huge amount of belief, and the community is everything to us. How we serve our people, here and in the islands. It is an important pathway for our Pasifika players, and we look forward to a time when we can have more Tongan players come through as Covid allows.” says Laauli Savae Sir Michael.

Of the 38 contracted Moana Pasifika players, 14 are Tongan and 7 are ‘Ikale Tahi players eligible to play for Tonga.

Tuifa’asisina Sir Bryan Williams then presented the Prime Minister with Moana Pasifika’s Heritage Jersey, signed by the entire team.

“This captures the meaning of what our team is all about. We represent the whole of Pasifika and share the goodwill. Our Heritage Jersey is even more meaningful because we won our first game wearing this jersey.”

Tuifa’asisina Sir Bryan Williams presents Prime Minister Hu’akavameiliku with Moana Pasifika’s Heritage Jersey signed by the entire team with chair Sir Michael Jones at HQ at Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland, New Zealand on Wednesday 21 April 2022. Photo supplied.

Tuifa’asisina Sir Bryan then addressed the Moana Pasifika team, adding:

“The challenge has been right through the course of our journey. It’s good to see a group of players rearing to go. We wish you all the best, alofa. Play with pride. We want to practice the things that we’ve learned, all the lessons we have had along the way. I’m going to be very interested to see how you go and wish you all the best.”

The Moana Pasifika players then joined in prayer and song.

#TongaStrong – a new fund-raising campaign

A new collaborative initiative, #TongaStrong, was announced on April 15th by Moana Pasifika and principle team sponsor EarthX to support the rebuild and resilience of Tonga. This campaign will support the rebuild of sustainable and equitable infrastructure that will withstand future environmental challenges. Funds raised through #TongaStrong will go to support Habitat for Humanity New Zealand’s ongoing work in Tonga.

As part of the campaign, Moana Pasifika dedicated its 2022 Super Rugby Pacific Game in Melbourne on Friday April 22nd to #TongaStrong, continuing the club’s commitment to its founding mission to support Pasifika communities and calls on Super Rugby Pacific clubs—and the world rugby community—to rally together to support the people of Tonga.

On the same day, Friday April 22nd, at Earth Day, EarthX will host an Island Resilience Summit as part of Earthx2022, the world’s largest green gathering held in Dallas, Texas, in the United States. The Summit convenes high-level island nation ambassadors, ministers, and heads of state to promote new collaborations around island and ocean sustainability, small island developing states (SIDS) partnerships, and solutions for long-term community resilience. The Summit continues EarthX’s commitment to building partnerships and mobilizing support around island communities on the front lines of climate change.

Donations can be made at Moana Pasifika’s website, and donations by text can be made by texting ‘Tonga’ to 2446 to donate $3. All texts to this number will incur a $3 charge on your mobile phone bill.

EarthX’s dedicated fund-raising site, also accepts donations in US dollars.

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