Their Majesties King Tupou VI and Queen Nanasipauʻu Tukuʻaho walked from Tauʻakipulu royal palace to Siaosi Tupou I church in Pangai, Haʻapai on Sunday July 16 at around 10am.
The king wanted to send a health message to the Haʻapai residents and all the people of Tonga, the Ha’apai Free Wesleyan Church superintend Rev. Dr Mohenoa Puloka told Kaniva News.
“Ko e poupou ia ‘a ‘Ena ‘Afifió ki he taukave ‘a e Potungāue Mo’uí ki he mo’ui lelei ‘a e kakai ‘o Tongá”, Dr Puloka said in Tongan.
The statement could be translated into English as: “Their Majesties wanted to support the Ministry of Health’s initiative for the people of Tonga to live healthy lives”.
Kaniva News had been reliably informed this afternoon that after His Majesty opened the Haʻapai show he returned by walking to the palace.
Photos and videos uploaded to Facebook on Sunday showed Their Majesties were accompanied by the royal guards, Crown Prince Tupouto’a with his two children Prince Taufaʻāhau Manumataongo and Princess Halaevalu Mata’aho and others when they arrived at the church’s front yard.
They shook hands with the church members who were lining up outside the church.
Commentators on Facebook described the walk as “surprising”.
Some said when Dr Puloka became aware Their Majesties were walking from the Palace he asked his church members to line up outside.
Their Majesties were in Ha’apai to open the island groups’ royal agricultural show today at 11am.
Tonga has been ranked as the fattest and the most obese country in the world.
King Tupou VI was instrumental in campaigning to support his country’s fight against non-communicable diseases which caused by obesity.
In His speech to open the Parliament last month King Tupou VI has called for concerted efforts to deal with health, education and economic problems.
He said Tongans needed to eat local food and live healthy lives.
He advised the government to develop the agricultural and fishery sectors and consider focussing spending on health
He said learning how to deal with an epidemic would be good example of individuals, communities and the national government working together to overcome a health issue.
Last year the king visited Singapore to seek help on training opportunity for the kingdom’s health services.
Singapore has an efficient and widespread system of healthcare and was ranked 6th in the World Health Organisation’s ranking of the world’s health systems in the year 2000.