St George’s palace design revealed at today’s foundation ceremony at Pangai Si’i site

The designs for what could be the largest government building ever built in the kingdom were officially unveiled in Nukuʻalofa today in a formal ceremony attended by King Tupou VI and government leaders.

His Majesty laid the foundation of the new Chinese-funded building today.

Construction of the complex, to be known as St George’s palace, has already generated controversy, with many people upset by the fate of a historical building and calls for a war memorial to be safeguarded.

The project was initiated by the late King George VI in 2010 after the Chinese government donated TP$25 million (NZ$18 million) to its costs. The Chinese Northeast Architectural Design and Research Institute Co. Ltd worked on the conceptual design.

The four storey building, which will house the Prime Minister’s Office, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Finance and National Planning, is being built at Pangai Siʻi in Nuku’alofa.

The structural details of the building have yet to be released.

Ceremony

Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pōhiva welcomed His Majesty King Tupou to the foundation laying ceremony.

Crown Princess Sinaitakala and Queen Nanasipau’u also attended.

In his speech welcoming His Majesty, the Prime Minister said  the palace would help connect most of the big government ministries, which would make their work easier.

He thanked the Chinese government for funding the project.

The Chinese Ambassador to Tonga, Mr Huang Huaguang, said the project strengthened Tonga’s relationship with China.

Critics

Some people became emotional last week when photos emerged showing the demolition of the band stand that had been in Pangai Si’i for many years.

Overseas Tongans who were in Tonga when it was built suggested it should have been saved and reinstated somewhere in the new compound as it was a historical building.

At times when there were hardly any instrumental entertainments in the country in 1960s and 70s Police and Military bands used to play at the band stand for entertainment purposes and welcoming of those who visited Nukuʻalofa or  for Police or the military marching practices.

Many remembered when they arrived at the capital Nuku’alofa for shopping or selling their products and visited the band stand to listen to the bands.

Some women remembered it as a place where they met their boyfriends before going home after school.

A petition was sent to government last week asking that the Armed Forces be allowed to remove the Memorial Stone in Pangai Si’i.

The memorial was built to remember those who served in both world wars.

The petition said the memorial stone should not be disturbed during the construction of the new palace as a sign of respect to those soldiers who went to war.

The main points

  • The design for what could the largest government building ever built in the kingdom were officially unveiled in Nuku’alofa today in a formal ceremony attended by King Tupou VI and government leaders.
  • His Majesty laid the foundation of the new Chinese-funded building today.
  • Construction of the complex, to be known as St George’s palace, has already generated controversy, with many people upset by the fate of a historical building and calls for a war memorial to be safeguarded.
  • The four storey building, which will accommodate the Prime Minister’s Office, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Finance and National Planning, is being built at Pangai Si’i in Nuku’alofa.

For more information

Pangai Si‘i green bulldozed to make way for new Tonga Government building

War monument at Pangai Si’i to be relocated

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