OLYMPIC DAY A HIT IN HA’APAI
The 2012 Olympic Day was celebrated all over the globe by the 205 NOC’s members but Tonga NOC opted to celebrate it in Pangai, capital of the island of Lifuka in the central group of Ha’apai in the Kingdom of Tonga. The Tonga National Olympic Committee (NOC) headed by Secretary General, Takitoa Taumoepeau with four other members of his staff organized the celebration in Ha’apai. If fact, it was the perfect wrap up for the Ha’apai Zone Game which was held three days earlier from 19th-22nd of June.
More than 300 primary school children took part and supported by parents and teachers from the five participating school, which they were demonstrating the theme of the day which was Move, Learn and Discover.
The Olympic Day celebration was marked with a Fun Run of about 7km for the school children and other members of the general public. It started from the island of Foa and crossed a pathway to the Lifuka where it was ended in the national ground of Lea’aetohi.
The event created interesting stories as it was the first time ever that an Olympic Day event was to be held in the island.
The Fun Run was to be started at 7.00am but according to some parents, their kids were so excited and they woke them up around 4 and 5 in the morning to prepare for the event. The Tonga NOC provided more than 300 t-shirts with the Olympic Day logo and in the five colours of the Olympic Ring. The program was when the children arrived to the Lea’aetohi, a small program for demonstrating of new sport which was in a way a new Learning and Discovering for many of the kids.
It was also fitting that the celebration was held in Ha’apai as we also learnt that the Guest of Honour of the Day, Mrs ‘Olivia Taufatofua Mafile’o, head of the Ministry of Education in Ha’apai, is an aunt of the current World and Olympic Champion, Shot putter Ms Valerie Adams of New Zealand. Further, there were also participants and parents with t-shirt painting “100% Pure Holopeka”. Holopeka is a small village in Lifuka which is the birth place of the mother of the great rugby legend Jonah Lomu and where he grew up before they moved to New Zealand in the early 1990’s.
Once the Fun Run arrived at the main ground of Lea’aetohi, the program was started with an opening prayer by Rev. Tu’a Mahe of the Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga in Pangai. A welcome remark was delivered by the Chairman of the Ha’apai National Sports Council, Mr Veivosa Taka and followed by the Message from the IOC President, Dr Jacques Rogge which was delivered and read by Secretary General, Takitoa Taumoepeau. The presentation of the Olympic Day certificates was carried by the Guest of Honour and followed by her remarks on the day.
According to Hiko Fungavaka, Senior Development Officer of the NOC, he was very pleased with the turn out as well as the participation of the school kids. Mr Fungavaka was assisted by other staff of the NOC namely, Miss Ella Mawdsley, Miss Vaisioa Tahi and Mr Nito Hausia. They were well supported by the members of the Ha’apai Sports Council and teachers and parents as well as the Ministry of Police.
The Secretary General, Mr Taumoepeau in his closing said that it was very pleasing and warming to see these kids really enjoying the event. It was also really true to the theme of the day, that some of these kids participate in new Move, some kids were also Learn new sports and new ideas as well as Discover new friends, information and programs about the Olympic Day and Olympic Movement.
On behalf of the members of the Board of the Tonga NOC, I would like to extend our gratitude to the members of the Ha’apai Sports Council, Principals of the five participating Government Primary School (Hihifo, Pangai, Faleloa, Koulo and Fotua) as well as parents and guardians and people of Ha’apai for supporting the event.