The Pacific Partnership 2011 program swept through the islands of Vava'u and Niua like a tropical headwind, leaving in its gentle wake a lot of smiling faces, restored communities and an enduring friendship between the people of the islands and the men and women of this most admirable humanitarian effort.
Ships from the U.S, Australia, Japan and New Zealand, and a
helicopter crew from France, along with health specialists and engineers
from the US military, Australian Defence Force (ADF), Canadian Defence
Force, Singaporean Defence Force and Spanish Defence Force formed the
basis of a humanitarian assistance mission under the Pacific Partnership
As part of Pacific Partnership 2011, medical,
dental, veterinary and engineering aid projects was conducted in Tonga,
Vanuatu, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, East Timor and the Federated
States of Micronesia.
In Tonga, the Pacific Partnership worked
in different projects in Vava'u and Niuatoputapu. The assistance to
Niuatoputapu was rendered under the leadership of the New Zealand
contingent, and the Minister of Education, Women's Affairs and Culture,
the Hon. Dr. 'Ana Maui Taufe'ulungaki and the New Zealand High
Commissioner to Tonga, His Excellency Dr. Jonathan Austin visited the
the work sites to witness the progress and accomplishments being made.
Hon. Dr. ‘Ana Maui Taufe'ulungaki, said that she was most impressed
with the professionalism and dedication of the Partnership team, who
worked day and night to accomplish the tasks that they had set out to
In Niuatoputapu, the beneficiaries of the program
included the education sector, the health sector, and other parts of the
community. According to the Hon. Minister, the multitude of tasks
performed by the team included some difficult, high risk and dangerous
operations, like the clearing of the entrance to Niuatoputapu harbour
with dynamite, which was blocked by large rocks from the tsunami of
As part of the project, the market and visitor center at
Talihau was renovated to become a safe and beautiful center for the
community. The repairs included fixing the bathroom facilities,
overhauling the inside, and the roofing, as well as mending and
repainting the posts which were heavily corroded.
amount of the time was spent in helping the Government Primary School,
GPS, at Falehau. Falehau GPS was earmarked for closure this year, with
the intention of combining it with Hihifo GPS in Niuatoputapu. His
Majesty's Government approved for the school to be kept open, but to put
some effort into renovating the facilities, and bringing the school up
to a satisfactory standard.
The Pacific Partnership Program went
into action and really transformed Falehau Primary School into a safe,
vibrant and fun center of learning for the children and the community.
The floor of the school buildings were all newly tiled, and the
buildings repainted. In addition, the school's electric generator was
repaired and supplemented with the installation of a solar power unit to
help with pumping the water supply and the electricity needs of the
school. A small shed was also built to house the generator, and
associated tools and fuel containers so that the generator can be kept
safe and well maintained.
A very popular addition to the school
at Falehau was the contruction and the equipping of a children's
playground by the Pacific Partnership team. The team put in monkeybars,
slides, ladders and other fun equipment that even schools in the main
island of Tongatapu do not have. The playground that may come close to
the one in Falehau, is the only children's park at Fa'onelua,
Nuku'alofa, but according to the Minister, Hon. Dr. ‘Ana Maui
Taufe'ulungaki, "the children's playground in Falehau is much bigger and
The Falehau primary school hall was used
temporarily for the Niuatoputapu Health Clinic, and this hall was also
renovated, newly painted and also fenced. In addition, the team put up
ten water storage tanks, each with a 10,000 liters capacity, giving the
school a capacity of 100,000 liters of water for their needs. This is in
addition to the normal village water supply which also serves the
In an example of the local community working together
with the Pacific Partnership team, the people of Falehau village worked
together with the team to build the fence all around the perimeter of
the school compound. The Tongan Chaplain in the New Zealand Army,
Captain Tavake Manu did a fine job in approaching the priests and the
church ministers to ask for the help of the people to finish the fence
in Falehau. The men and women of the community, with the Partnership
team worked the whole of the last day and part of the night to complete
building the fence for the school in time for the hand-over ceremony
scheduled for the next morning.
Another school that benefitted
from the Pacific Partnership Program was the Government Primary School
at Hihifo. Hihifo GPS has a lot of land and the team put up a fence all
around the school compound to make it safe and secure. The Industrial
Arts complex was repaired and new tools provided to help teach the
various skills and technologies covered in the Industrial Arts
curriculum. The team also installed fifteen new computers and
established two local area networks with Internet access, one to be used
by the school and the other to be used by the community.
GPS gets its water from the village supply at Vaipoa, and the team
repaired the community water supply at Vaipoa to ensure that the school
is adequately supplied with water. As well as fixing the normal water
supply, the Pacific Partnership installed ten 10,000 liter water tanks
at Hihifo like they did at Falehau. A school playground was also
established like the one at Falehau, and the program is sending chairs
and tables to be used by the children.
Apart from helping the
schools directly, the Pacific Partnership Program provided health checks
to the general population, including babies, young infants and the
elderly. The medical team on the project also included professionals
that gave dental and eye examination and treatment.
Dr. ‘Ana Maui Taufe'ulungaki, the people witnessed with their own eyes
something unique during the course of the partnership. And that is, the
people saw men and women working together at whatever task that was
needed to be completed. There was no so-called men's work, or women's
work, there was no demarcation, and both can do whatever job was needed
to be done.
The Hon. Dr. ‘Ana Maui Taufe'ulungaki expressed her
gratitude for the Pacific Partnership Program, saying that such programs
demonstrates to the Pacific and to the world, that the defense services
of the participating countries are there to protect the peace and
security of the region, and to help improve and maintain the welfare of
Issued by the: Ministry of Education, Women Affairs and Culture, Nuku'alofa, 2011.