HRH Queen Mother Halaevalu Mata’aho has paid tribute to the courage and determination of the Ha’apai people to help them recover from their own horrible year.
Hundreds greeted the Queen and Hon.Lupeolo Halaevalu Moheofo Virginia Rose Tuita last week as they saw and heard for themselves how far the islands have come since its severe cyclone in the new year.
Her Majesty arrived in Ha'apai to meet and distribute relief packages to victims of cyclone Ian.
The Islands were struck by a devastating Cyclone Ian on January 11 leaving one dead and about 5,000 homeless.
The Queen who is now 87 years old, appeared exhausted but looked tender and deeply moved.
The royal cruise visited the outer islands of Lifuka in Ha’apai including Mo’unga’one, Ha’ano and ‘Uiha where Her Majesty and her entourage were surprised by dinghies of entertainers who arrived by sea for the fakame’ite (entertainment) – a Tongan custom of welcoming royals.
Five primary school girls performed a tau’olunga (group dance) in the dinghy accompanied by a local band of three players while the Queen watched from the VOEA Savea naval ship.
According to sources the Queen Mother explained how she was greatly saddened as she heard about the Cyclone Ian which wrought havoc on the six main islands of Ha’apai – Lifuka, Foa, Ha'ano, Mo'unga'one, Lofanga and 'Uiha.