Setita Tu'i'onetoa (L), PM Pōhiva Tu'i'onetoa

Prime Minister Pōhiva Tu’i’onetoa and his Deputy have vehemently denied allegations the Deputy Prime Minister Sione Vuna Fa’otusia and Her Majesty Queen Nanasipau’u were expected to return to Tonga on an Air New Zealand special flight from Auckland to the kingdom today.

The Tu’i’onetoa government has extended its Covid-19 related restrictions on its borders last week and confirmed all Tonga bound passenger flights must be banned. International airlines have to get permission from the government before they were allowed on strict conditions to land at the Fua’amotu International Airport.

The allegation that the Deputy Prime Minister was expected on the flight was released by suspended Tonga Broadcasting Commission Station Manager Sētita Tu’i’onetoa yesterday in a livestream news update she shared to Facebook.

People who contacted us last night about the allegations said other sources on social media alleged Her Majesty Queen Nanasipau’u Tuku’aho was expected to return to Tonga on the Air New Zealand charter flight.

When contacted by Kaniva News about the allegation Sētita said her sources were reliable.

In Tongan she said: “naa ku ma’u e fkmatala falalaanga oku Folau ae tokoni PM ki Tonga tomorrow peau fetu’utaki ia ki Tonga ke fkpapaui pe oku mooni pea fkha mai meiai io.”

The Prime Minister said the fake news was made to discredit the government and made the public think he was being selective and allowed only elite to travel to Tonga during the ban. 

He said this type of political spin must be stopped as it could cause chaos while the government was trying to unite the people.

In Tongan he said: “Ko e politiki koia oku totonu ke tuku he oku fakamoveuveu nofo, ‘oku mio’i ke malava ke ‘oua te tau nofo melino. ‘Oku fakatu’utamaki ia, he oku feinga a e Pule’anga ke tau nofo melino, ke hoko a e ua ko e taha pe.”

The email by the Prime Minister in his response to Kaniva News this morning included a response from his Minister of Health to an urgent request to confirm to him whether or not the allegations were true.

In her response to the Prime Minister Hon ‘Amelia Tu’ipulotu said:

“This news is untrue as per MoH directions.”

Hon Fā’otusia, is currently in New Zealand and he has also denied the allegation to us.

“No I am here and well, and would like to speak with anybody concerning my health. In short, I am not returning to Tonga as I am currently under some medication, but I am in constant communication with my office as to any matter of interest to the country as a whole that I may assist,” the Deputy Prime Minister said in an email to Kaniva News.

Hon Fā’otusia said Setita did not contact him and he was concerned about it.

“I am not in prison not allowed to share news with the outside world. As to lock down, the Prime Minister and his office has all the information about it, and they will answer any question concerning it.

“However, personally, i would like to see Tonga treats the situation as if the virus is already there as we cannot afford to be too comfortable about the virus.”

Sētita along with two other television anchors Vilisoni Tu’iniua and Salamo Fulivai were currently being suspended with pay after TBC board received complaints from former Cabinet Minister and MP ‘Etuate Sungalu Lavulavu.

As we reported last week, New Zealanders stranded in Tonga wanting to get home will find some relief soon thanks to the announcement of a special flight.

An Air New Zealand flight from Tonga to Auckland has been scheduled for today Wednesday, 15 April.


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