Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pōhiva ordered all Tongan flags in the country to be flown at half-staff tomorrow Friday 29 to honour those who had been killed in the racist attacks in New Zealand.
“The mark of respect coincides with the “National Memorial Service” that the New Zealand Government is holding at Hagley Park in Christchurch at 10.00am on Friday 29 March,” a statement from the Prime Minister’s office said.
“The decision that all flags in the Kingdom should be flown at half-mast on 29 March was made by Cabinet in its meeting on Friday 22 March, In my earlier message of condolence to the Prime Minister of New Zealand, Rt Hon Jacinda Adern, I had written, “The people and the Government of Tonga weep with you, as you gather your dynamic multi-ethnic whanau around you to nationally mourn and bury the dead, and to reconnect the bonds that make New Zealand the beautiful and loving country it is”.
The Hon Prime Minister also said that a memorial service and flag ceremony for the victims of the Christchurch terrorist attack, and all those affected by it will be held at the Tonga Police Headquarters in Longolongo beginning at 8am on Friday 29 March 2019.
The effects of the Christchurch shooting has been felt throughout the local and international Tongan communities.
As Kaniva Tonga news reported earlier, Members of Parliament took part in a one minute silence to pay respects for the victims of Christchurch’s terror attack.
Acting Speaker Lord Tu’ilakepa said the minute was in respect for the memory of those killed and hurt in the attack on Friday, which left 50 dead and at least 50 injured.
Following the attack Tongan community leaders in New Zealand have called for their people to wear black as a sign of solidarity with grieving Muslim families.
The community was also asked to meet in Aotea Square for a Love Aotearoa Hate Racism hui.
Tongan church groups have been holding special prayer sessions for the cessation of terrorism.
The Pulela’a Methodist Church in New Lynn paid their respects to the 50 people killed in the terror attacks by taking its brass band to play outside Imran Reza Mosque in New Lynn.
Congregation members prayed and laid flowers.
According to the 2013 New Zealand census there were 60,336 Tongans living in New Zealand, a 25% population increase since the beginning of the 21st century. Tongans make up 1.5% percent of the total New Zealand population.
New Zealand has financially assisted Tonga with over NZ$20 million each year through its bilateral aid programme with the kingdom.