(Rev Dr. Kitiona Tausi)
9 Polynesian countries gathered in Funafuti, Tuvalu’s capital to discuss issues that are pertinent to the well-beings of their region. This gathering is the 8th Polynesian leaders group and this meeting started on 26 June and ends today, Friday, 29 June 2018.
Overseas delegates including representatives from other Pacific agencies including the Ambassadors of New Zealand, Australia and Japan to Tuvalu were also in attendance and started arriving in Tuvalu on Saturday, 23 June 2018.
Air Fiji flight on Saturday bringing in the first delegate to arrive was delayed by about 30 minutes and Cabinet ministers and government and local dignitaries were already assembled in the Vaiaku Falekaupule to await the arrival of the overseas delegates.
Also in the Vaiaku Falekaupule were the dancing group from the Funafuti Island Community who were also waiting for the arrival of the overseas delegates as they will be providing the welcome entertainment of local dancing. The group was really anticipating the arrival of the delegates and were more than ready to perform.
Also outside the Vaiaku Falekaupule were members of the public who would like also to witness the welcoming ceremony and police were all around the hall to provide the security.
As the final moment has now arrived, the Fiji Air plane touched down about just after 12 noon and government officers who had been assigned to meet them outside the plane proceeded to the plane.
The first arrival were escorted to the Vaiaku Falekaupule where they were traditionally received and welcomed by government officials including His Excellency the Governor-General and his spouse, the Rt. Hon Prime Minister and his good lady and the dancing group from the Funafuti Island community.
In the falekaupule, they were welcomed with local dancing performed by the Funafuti Dancing Group.
After e performance of three items, the Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs, Trade, Tourism, Environment and Labour, Hon MacKenzie Kiritome formally welcomed the first arrivals of delegates to Tuvalu and that was the end of the welcoming ceremony.
In the evening, there was no programme and the delegates had a free evening.
The next day, Sunday, there was also no programme but in the afternoon there was lunch at the te Niu Fakamauganiu and the delegates were joined in by the Head of State and his spouse and Cabinet Ministers, MPs and government dignitaries.
The Vaiaku Choir was invited to provide hymn entertainment while lunch was on.