November 12, 2012,- Back in Tuvalu, by Sarah Hemstock, project team leader at USP Fiji and Alofa Tuvalu biomass specialist
Alofa Tuvalu is very much in everyones minds and I must have been asked at least 100 times today where you guys are and when are you going to be visiting again!!
John (Alpha Pacific Navigation manager and Alofa Tuvalu counterpart) is in Australia but Eti (Alofa Tuvalu Vice-President) is here, doing fine and has changed his name to Eddie!!
Anyway, hope everything is ok..
12 / 11 / 12 - 18 : 00
23 / 10 / 12 - 18 : 00
22 / 10 / 12 - 13 : 57
22 / 10 / 12 - 13 : 49
Vendredi 19 Octobre : 19h00 // Ciné-Débat au Cinéma « Ciné Islais » de l'Ile d'Yeu, Gratuit
Projection du Film "Nuages au Paradis", réalisé par Gilliane Le Gallic et Christopher Horner (ETC, 2004) suivi d'un débat avec Fanny Héros, Chargée de mission à lassociation Alofa Tuvalu ainsi quun conseiller de lEspace Info Energie.
plus d'infos sur la Fête de l'Energie
13 / 10 / 12 - 17 : 49
27 / 09 / 12 - 12 : 09
Wednesday Sept 19th September 2012 - Kate and William farewell, by John H., Alofa Tuvalu counterpart in Funafuti and APNL Manager
The day has dawned bright and clear, a good day for farewelling William and Kate. Lets hope it remains that way; yesterday started like this too but turned rainy. Today there will be less opportunity for that because the Royal Couple will be departing soon.
I hope they slept well in the house loaned by the Australian Defence Force Advisers. Its very comfortably furnished and its location is idyllic, right on the edge of the lagoon. The island at this point is narrow. A good golfer would be able to hit a ball from the lagoon beach right across the island to the ocean beach in one stroke. The Governor Generals residence and the Prime Ministers residence are also in this area, comprising a thin string of housing along the lagoon edge with the airport runway right alongside.
As their jet came in to land at Funafuti yesterday William and Kate were probably thinking where is this island? That question goes through most peoples minds the first time they come. One can feel the plane reducing altitude, down, down, down, but no land visible either side. The plane banks right and islands come distantly into view to the left. Flaps being adjusted, landing gear whining down, all the usual noises of an approach to landing but still not much indication of land. Plane now so low its easy to see individual wave crests. Then flashing past the windows a series of tiny islets none big enough to land on. One can see the connection between them underwater; its the rim of what was a volcano, aeons ago. Now low enough to see individual coconuts on the palm trees but below the plane is still only sea. Suddenly, palm trees pop up on both sides and almost instantly theres the bump as the plane touches down on the runway. Its an exciting landing and I never tire of it. Then theres the shock of heat as the plane door is opened and the tropical air rushes in, and one realizes we have arrived at the Worlds most remote capital city.
Well that was yesterdays experience for William and Kate. Today, Eti and I will go down to the airport for the farewell ceremony.
Today we can be attired less formally still with traditional Tuvaluan flower headband, neck decoration and colourful skirt, but with a casual, Fijian-style Bula shirt. On our feet just sandals; the black leather shoes have been put away until next years Queens Birthday honours ceremony. We ride on Etis motorbike, our pandanus leaf decorations trailing behind us in the wind. We ride along the runway perimeter road. The plane is still parked where it stopped the day before, turbines now gently hissing in anticipation of its Royal cargo.
Oh, we have arrived rather later than we should. The Royal Couple are already seated in the maneaba and are being regaled by very stirring singing and dancing. On a table in front of them is a model of a traditional Tuvaluan house, intricately woven from pandanus leaf.
Its the biggest such model I have ever seen. Its evidently a present. If its to go on the plane someone is going to be working very fast to box it up when the Couple go to the plane.
The Governor General Sir Iakoba Italeli Taeia and his wife Koling are seated to right of the Royal Couple. Prime Minister Willy Telavi and his wife Seinati are seated on their left. Foreign Minister Apisai Ielemia and his wife Nala are there too and other members of Parliament and just about everybody who is anybody. I must remember to congratulate Apisai on the good organizing of his Permanent Secretary and the team at Foreign Affairs.
Kate has her hair down today, as she did at the fatele last night. She looks more familiar that way; thats how she usually appears when we see her on TV. Im not close enough to see exactly what the pattern is on her dress but it is a floral design, very different to the pattern of the Tuvaluan ladies dresses but very much in keeping with them. Different but complementary, somebody has chosen well. Perhaps Mummy-in-law had some hand in it. No doubt there will be quite a difference too in what she paid for her dress perhaps a hundred times more than the local price of dresses! The dress is above knee. Last night she wore a long flowing dress. William is wearing much the same as yesterday, plain blazer and open-necked white shirt. That in itself is a fashion statement. He looks relaxed.
The Prime Minster makes a speech, appropriate and brief. The President of the Tuvalu Church offers a prayer of thanks to the Almighty and asks His protection for the Royal Couple. Then its time to go.
William and Kate are tall and easy to see. They move outside and board their special vehicle, the mini-maneaba; the bearers raise it to their shoulders. The Police Honour Guard makes a Royal Salute, with great precision; the Royals move forward preceded by a big choir of young ladies singing merrily. The official party melds in behind the Royal vehicle and follow it to the plane, an avenue of schoolchildren clapping on either side.
The populous moves onto the grassy area alongside the runway. This must be one of the few international airports in the World where that would be permitted, and in truth it is not usual here either, but it is possible because the runway is not fenced and is only a runway for a few minutes per week. The rest of the time it is a walking and running track, a place for volleyball and soccer, at night a place to study the stars and a cool place to sleep.
The Couple reaches the plane and the bearers lower the mini-maneaba. It has fulfilled its task. The bearers will be able to tell their grandchildren I carried the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge way back in 2012! There are some final farewells from the official party and Kate walks up the aircraft stairs, pausing to make a very bold and happy wave to everyone, which is responded by a thousand waves. William follows and does the same, but he didnt get so many return waves as Kate. She is on the way to becoming a star.
The door closes and we are all ushered back to beyond the airport perimeter road, but that is still close to the runway. So now its time for the Couple to go. There is always excitement at the airport when a plane lands and takes off even if its just the turbo-prop from Fiji twice a week. This is the first Royal visit by plane so its extra special. Its lovely that people can be so close to planes, but it is necessarily so because the island is only four hundred metres wide at this point and thats its widest.
The plane starts to move forward. A dog decides to show interest in another dog; they run onto the grass. A thousand throats hiss at them a reaction they have never experienced before. Wisely, nobody gives chase, which would have frightened them towards the aircraft. A policeman waves at the dogs; remarkably they obey and leave the area. In Tuvalu even the dogs are law-abiding. The plane passes us, nice and slowly. We all wave frantically and everyone on the plane does likewise. We cant see which is Kate and which is William, but anyway theyre surely at one of the windows.
The wind is light and the direction a little unusual, more or less straight across the runway. So the pilot chooses to taxi all the way to the northern end and take off heading south. As he taxis, a dog nonchalantly crosses the runway behind the plane. The dog-chaser vehicle speeds after it. The dog gets the message and disappears towards the beach.
The plane turns, immediately winds up its jets to full power, and comes thundering down the runway. It is airborne before it gets to where we are all standing; it needed only half the runway length. The jet engines are huge, as though taken from a larger plane. A blast of hot jet air and dust sweeps over us and we are all forced to turn away momentarily. Then the plane is soaring up into the sky, banking right, setting course for Brisbane where the Couple will transfer to a scheduled flight.
I find myself talking to one of Royal staffers who has been left behind to travel on tomorrows regular plane. She says William and Kate told her last night their visit to Tuvalu has been the absolute highlight of their Tour.
I am so thrilled that I was able to be a part of this historic event.
Best regards, John
19 / 09 / 12 - 14 : 17
Tuesday 18 September, 2012 - "Kate and William visit" (part4) by John H., Alofa Tuvalu counterpart in Funafuti and APNL Manager
Im told William made a speech this evening (I guess at the feast) in which he mentioned that he had particularly wanted to have Tuvalu on his visit list because of what his grandmother had told him about her visit thirty years ago. She had described Tuvalu as the most iconic place she had ever visited. Well there you have it, straight from the horses mouth, oops the Queens mouth.
So thats it for tonight. I believe there will be a bit of ceremony tomorrow morning farewelling the Couple and then theyll be up, up and away in their silver jet said to be the biggest jet to have landed at Funafuti Airport.
So thats me signing off for tonight. Bye. J
18 / 09 / 12 - 15 : 40
Tuesday 18 September, 2012 - "Kate and William visit" (part3) by John H., Alofa Tuvalu counterpart in Funafuti and APNL Manager
STOP PRESS Kate is dancing. Seinati (PMs wife) evidently suggested that Kate join her and her island community. Kate agreed. What a hot. It was exactly what people were hoping would happen. Kate is dancing pretty well too well perhaps not to a trained Tuvaluan eye but Ive seen lots of fatele and I can tell you shes holding her own nicely. Anyway, the important thing is that she got up and joined in. Shes a hit. This fatele isnt going to end any time soon. Must rush back.
STOP PRESS AGAIN William is up too, not dancing but at least dispensing shots of perfume (a Tuvaluan tradition) to the dancers and singers. This has gone down very, very well. The GG can report back to QE2 that the Royal Couple did well ..
AH, now WILLIAM IS DANCING. Oh, everyone is so excited about that (including me). There must be a thousand people down at the maneapa, everyone beaming smiles and thoroughly enjoying themselves. Not a drop of liquor in sight but everyone intoxicated on the excitement. Must go back
18 / 09 / 12 - 15 : 39
Tuesday 18 September, 2012 - "Kate and William visit" (part2) by John H., Alofa Tuvalu counterpart in Funafuti and APNL Manager
The visit to Nauti Primary School is taking much longer than I expected.
Im a bit tired of standing by the roadside waiting so I have come indoors to make a cup of tea. Theres a big group of people down the road near the Queens coconut tree but I think Ill stay at my place (200 metres from the tree) so I can wave my union flag in front of our office not that a union flag has any connection with our office of course but I dont think it would be considered good form if I waved a German flag. I might get away with waving an Australian flag but the office doesnt have any connection with Australia either, other than through me.
So I boiled my water and then found I hadnt emptied the tea leaves from my previous pot of tea. I went outside to dump the tea leaves in the garden as I always do (environmentally sound practice I believe) but just at that moment I saw William and Kates entourage approaching. There was no time to put down the teapot so I just waved it at the Royal Couple. They probably thought I was inviting them for a cup of tea! I would have happily done so of course but they both smiled at me and continued on their way. I have entertained three ambassadors (simultaneously)(British, Australian and New Zealand) at my house and three or four others at odd times (Canadian, Belgian, Taiwanese) but never a prince and a duchess. Well, maybe next time they stop by.
Fortunately the weather has improved and they were able to change over to the mini-maneaba. So it got its use after all. Our road is narrow and I was standing right on its edge and had a good glimpse of the Royal Couple. They looked as good in real life as one sees them on TV, William looking gracious and regal, Kate looking radiant and relaxed. It will take time before she gets that star quality that Princess Diana had but Kate is getting there.
Willy and Seinati (the PM and his wife) were following in their car, both beaming smiles from ear to ear, and rightly so. Now the Couple are at the hotel for their coconut drink and to watch the canoe racing. During the day the wind has increased, as it often does on rainy days. The lagoon is quite rough so it will be interesting to see how they go. For those reading who arent familiar with Funafuti Lagoon its no little pond, its about 15 kilometres wide and about twice that in length. When its rough on the lagoon it isnt much different to being rough on the ocean.
I forgot to look at the beach while the tide was low this morning. From what I can see of it now the sand removed yesterday has not made any significant difference. After todays wind and waves one probably wont even be able to see where the sand was taken from.
Evidently todays programme had to be adjusted to fit with the weather. How different it is this year compared to same time last year. Now we have too much rain; last year we were suffering a drought and Willy had to declare a state of emergency so that New Zealand Red Cross and New Zealand Military could start airlifting desalination plants in C-130 cargo transports.
The canoe racing is over and one of the canoes is being taken out of the water on our office ramp. Daylight will start to fade soon and it will be dark in half an hour. The Couple arent going to have much of a rest after they get to their accommodation, and they still have to visit the Tuvalu Village beforehand.
I think after theyve been feasted and toasted tonight there will be a fatele (dancing/singing). I may go and watch that if theres no rain but it depends on my email load. Having been out of the office all afternoon I can see there are 19 messages waiting now, and likely more during the evening.
So thats pretty much the end of my narrative except to summarize. It has been a unique day, long and carefully planned and well conducted. The weather posed some problems but they were overcome. Im sure it will have been a memorable visit for the Royal Couple, and it certainly has been for all of us at Funafuti.
When I was a schoolboy and aspiring to become a seafarer my imagination was fired by a book I read (A Pattern of Islands) that concerned the experiences of a British colonial administrator in this area before the First World War. I never seriously thought I would ever visit Funafuti, still less that I would live here, and certainly not that I would be here for a royal visit only the third such visit ever.
So as the sun sinks below the horizon (though blocked by rainclouds) I will say farewell from fair Funafuti.
Best regards, John
18 / 09 / 12 - 09 : 14
There was a strong breeze blowing and the plane was angled considerably to its right as it approached, then straightened up just before touchdown. A neat manoeuvre, as one would expect. It touched down about the normal place and roared past the assembled throng but stopped in much less length than our regular turboprops planes. A big plane, big jets, big stopping power to match. A quick turnaround, back down past us and another turnaround, as planned. There was a man waving table tennis bats (or whatever those things are called) to indicate where the plane should stop.
Very soon the door opened and out came the press contingent. Then a long wait and suddenly out popped William with Kate close behind. She in a beige coloured dress, above knee, her hair in a little bun very different to the pictures we have seen of her in other countries on this tour. Its good that she is being different for Tuvalu. William wearing a blazer and open-necked shirt.
The micro-maneaba came to meet them and they were carried away with a preceding escort of young ladies dancing and singing, while the school students formed lines on either side and waved union flags. The conveyance stopped at the dais in front of the flags one the Tuvaluan national flag, the other apparently the standard of the Duke of Cambridge - a harp, some lions, not unlike the royal standard but with a white key across the top (must look that up).
I was standing about fifty metres off as most onlookers were. The wind was still quite strong and carried away most of the sound. We did hear the British and Tuvaluan national anthems, and I could vaguely hear the Reverend Falani saying a prayer. His voice would normally carry clearly beyond fifty metres but not with todays wind.
The Governor General and his lady met the Royal Couple and then there were the expected presentations of the community leaders and their spouses. The Royal Couple did what we have seen royals do so often before, pausing here and there to chat and then moving on.
Into the maneaba and a brief fatele presented by the Funafuti community. Somebody had choreographed the dancing very well, as always happens. They dancers did something I have never seen before. At the end of the singing/dancing, as the drumming reach its inevitable crescendo, all the dancers in unison made three leaps forward ending close to the Royal Couple and raised their right arms in a very military salute.
Well done Funafuti, I say!
Then the Couple boarded their vehicle for the island tour, and thats the point we have reached now. Unfortunately it is raining again and the sky is totally overcast and grey. It wont entirely spoil the day because the main part is over now and most other activities will be indoor.
So now I must go outside because the mini-maneaba will come past very soon.
Bye for now. Tofa! John
18 / 09 / 12 - 06 : 49
Tuesday 18 September, 2012 13:54 - "Five minutes to go" by John H., Alofa Tuvalu counterpart in Funafuti and APNL Manager
18 / 09 / 12 - 06 : 47
Tuesday 18 September, 2012 13:47 - "Fifteen minutes to go" by John H., Alofa Tuvalu counterpart in Funafuti and APNL Manager
18 / 09 / 12 - 06 : 45
Tuesday 18 September, 2012 13:32 - "Thirty minutes to go" by John H., Alofa Tuvalu counterpart in Funafuti and APNL Manager
Bye for now. Wish us luck! John.
18 / 09 / 12 - 06 : 42
Tuesday 18th September, 2012 13:01 - by John H., Alofa Tuvalu counterpart in Funafuti and APNL Manager
We wont be able to wear our traditional costumes because the dye will run.
Fingers crossed that the rain will pass in a few minutes.
17 / 09 / 12 - 18 : 00
I took a look at the little mini-maneabas set up for the handicrafts exhibitions. Very nice, and all quite different from one another. I dont know whether each is an example (in miniature) of the building style of each island or whether the designs are just the individual builders preferences. Anyway, they are all very pretty.
Our ladies have been very busy washing the front of our office. If the Royal Couple are alert as they pass along our street they might catch a fleeting glimpse. More grass has been cut in the last few days that in normal months. Lots of painting too.
Ive just seen the news coverage of the Royals visit to the Solomon Islands. The canoe on a truck provided for their reception there will definitely be bettered by our hand-carried mini-maneaba. The media reported today that the Couple had arrived in the Solomon Islands but surely they arrived yesterday? I suppose the film clips didnt get back to Australia and New Zealand in time for last nights news so the TV stations ran with the news today.
We shall have to keep fingers crossed for dry weather tomorrow. There have been several heavy showers today. No doubt the show will go on regardless of weather but it will be miserable if everyone has to line up in the pouring rain to greet the Couple. After all the preparations that have been made it would be disappointing if there is much rain.
Theres a lot of noise outside, which I must investigate . Oh, a tractor and trailer are on the beach removing more sand at 2200 hours! I hope they dont spoil our nice beach. I suppose theyre taking sand from here because of the good access with the brick-paved driveway and the ramp we built.
OK, thats all for today. Best regards, John
17 / 09 / 12 - 15 : 41
I guess the tension is mounting, and especially so for the PM and the Min. of Foreign Affairs! Indeed for the whole of the Foreign Affairs Ministry who have been engaged in preparations for weeks.
Im just thinking about what I should wear. I suppose a long-sleeved white shirt with tie and long trousers. I just checked my black leather shoes; theyll be alright once I polish off the mildew.
The plane is here no, not the Royal one, the regular one. It came early today. I guess it was a requirement that airspace be cleared well before arrival of the Royal jet. I can hear the plane taxiing down the runway so its just about to leave ah yes, I can hear the warning siren now.
Something interesting I omitted this morning Tuvalu Telecom shop has a sign up outside which says .. Tuvalu Telecom. Wow thats a real innovation. I have often thought it would be good to have a sign there so that visitors know what building to go in to get their SIM cards for the local mobilephone system. With the old Telecom building (that one), the newish Telecom building, and the newer Telecom building there was potential for confusion. All is clear now. Right opposite is a very large sign that says Cigarettes the Killer with a list of all the poisonous and carcinogenic ingredients. That sign has been in place for some months; I suppose it is permanent.
Eti tells me there is a sign on the Vaiaku maneaba that reads Welcome Home. He reckons it should just read Welcome but I think Welcome Home is somehow appropriate. When QE2 is spoken of here she is referred to (as you well know) and Queen Elizabeth the Second, Queen of Tuvalu and other realms. So if Tuvalu is home for the Queen in that sense it must also be home to Prince William.
I think the Queens title here is not quite right, she should be Queen Elizabeth the Second, she should simply be Queen Elizabeth, Queen of Tuvalu and other realms. Europeans had not discovered Tuvalu at time QE1 was on the throne. But then, the good lady is referred to as Queen Elizabeth the Second even when she is in Scotland, but really she is QE1 there, if have my schoolboy history correct.
There was a truck stopped on the road opposite the end of our driveway a few minutes ago. It seems they were replacing the globe in the street light. It seems as though a few chores that arent really related to the Royal visit have been added. Very good too!
Weather still good bright sunshine, cotton wool clouds. Perfect. Must go and iron my shirt. Bye.
So, our Internet is down again a very common problem nowadays. I guess I spend about 30 minutes every day pressing email Send button to try to get messages moving. Very frustrating and getting worse, to the point where it is hindering our business (or rather it is extending the length of each working day). So Im taking the opportunity to add a bit more to this message.
The Radio Station fence posts are beautifully and imaginatively decorated with flowers made out of interwoven leaves. Im frustrated not having a camera. Dinah went off to Halos place to try to download the images from her computer, which is full. Hopefully shell sort out the problem.
The mini-maneabas on the lawn in front of the Vaiaku maneaba appeared to be laid out randomly but I have just realized (after seeing the island name signs that have just been added) that they are laid out in their proper geographical design, as in the Tuvaluan flag. Clever idea that! The area has been cordoned off with just one entrance over which there is a sign Tuvalu Village. Very nice indeed. OK, lets try the Internet again .
Best regards, John
17 / 09 / 12 - 15 : 00
15 / 09 / 12 - 18 : 00
Friday september 14th: Kate & William visits Final rehearsal, by John H., Alofa Tuvalu counterpart in Funafuti and APNL Manager
Lets hope the weather is fine. This morning there was a huge rainstorm passing over the island, dumping tonnes of water. As so often happens here after rain, the sun came out and the rest of the day has been fine and clear. Lets hope its like that on Tuesday.
There isnt only a mini-maneaba there is also a micro-maneaba (my terminology). The mini one is truck mounted, and will be the vehicle for the tour of the village. The micromaneaba will be hand-carried. Both are nicely made and nicely painted and will no doubt be highly decorated on the day. Their design captures the spirit of the traditional maneabas but cleverly modified to suit the special purposes. Of course their distinguishing feature is their pandanus-thatched roofs.
Assuming the plane lands heading north (the predominant direction, as you know) it will taxi back from the northern end, pass the terminal and the Vaiaku Maneaba, turn 180 degrees, and come to a halt about opposite the TANGO and TuFHA offices. The minmaneapa will then approach, carried by about twenty young men selected for their strength and uniform height.
That maneapa is only just big enough for the Royal Couple to sit on but the side bearers (timber beams) are extended well fore and aft to give
space for the many bearers. The bearers will lower the maneaba at the foot of the aircraft stairs.
When the Royal Couple have boarded they will be carried slowly up the runway and onto the airport apron. The route will be lined with children from Fetuvalu High School in uniform. They will be singing and waving. On arrival at the apron the maneaba will be set down in front of two flagpoles, with the Tuvalu flag flying on one and the Royal Standard on the other.
A Police honour guard will be facing the couple. I watched the honour guard as they marched from the Police Station to the Airport. I have to say they have really put effort into their marching and drill, as it was all very precise. Perhaps not quite as good as the Household Cavalry but considering the men are regular policemen, not soldiers, I reckon they deserve full marks. I notice that their rifles have shiny bayonets that I have not
seen before. Either they been supplied new ones or theyve spent a lot of time polishing.
The honour guard will do the usual presenting of arms and then the Anthem of the Queen of Tuvalu will be sung (i.e. God Save the Queen) led by pupils of Nauti Primary School.
They sang it this morning; they even knew the words of the second verse. I remember learning that verse sixty years ago but I have no recollection of the words now. After that anthem the children and everyone nearby sang the Tuvalu National Anthem.
Next the Royal Couple will (presumably) be met by the Governor General and his wife and the Prime Minister and his wife. They didnt take part in the rehearsal so Im not sure about that. I can say though that the PM is really thrilled about the forthcoming event; I happened to see Willy talking to the Police Commissioner so I stopped for a chat. Shortly after I saw Seinati and had a word with her too. Lots of smiles, as always.
So after meeting the GG and PM the Couple will meet island community elders who will be lined up at the side of the apron leading to the VIP Lounge. I think theyll pass briefly through the Lounge and into the Maneaba. There will be one welcoming speech I guess by the GG, and one reply certainly by Prince William. Then they will sit and be entertained by very brief fateles. Now all of this, from plane halting to fatele finishing
is scheduled to occupy twenty minutes! Then the Couple board the mini-maneaba on the back of the truck.
They then drive to Nauti Primary School. Im not sure whether that will be along the runway road or the main road; presumably the latter because it is more interesting. The roads around the village are worth seeing. You would be impressed. Everybody has been tidying up in front of their houses, cleaning, painting, planting flowers etc.
After a brief view of Nauti Primary and the University campus opposite they will drive down our road (Fogafale Rd), passing our office (Ill be waving) and they will disembark from the minimaneaba at the hotel to inspect the Queens palm tree. Theyll then walk through to the front of hotel, and up onto the balcony overlooking the lagoon.
Canoe races will start immediately, while the Couple enjoy a cool coconut juice drink from nuts freshly picked from the Queens tree.
After their drinks the Couple will walk across to the grassy area in front of Vaiaku Maneaba. There they will see a couple (man and woman) from each of the Tuvalu islands making traditional handicraft items. Each couple will be sitting under individual little structures quite similar to the mini-maneaba already described. After the Couple have spent a little time examining the handicrafts their arrival ceremony will end and they
will be driven to the Defence Force Complex for a rest.
In the evening theyll be taken to Tausoa Lima for a formal dinner. I think there will be some fatele afterwards. I cant remember what Pedro told me about that whether it would be at Tausoa Lima or back at the Vaiaku Maneaba. So thats how the day will end.
The next morning there will be a fairly brief farewell ceremony at Vaiaku Maneaba, then onto the plane. I suppose they will again be carried in the mini-maneaba.
It is a little disappointing that their visit will be so short. I think the community would have liked longer. It would have been appropriate to visit Princess Margaret Hospital but there isnt time, and of course the original structure has long gone and been replaced by one built by Japan Aid.
So thats it. Quite a bit packed into their twenty hours. It will be a memorable day, not only for the Couple but equally for all us.
Perhaps the Governor General will call for Three cheers for Her Majesty the Queen of Tuvalu. I hope so.
Best regards, John
14 / 09 / 12 - 13 : 08
Monday september 10th: Kate & William Visits drafted program, by John H, Alofa Tuvalu counterpart in Funafuti and APNL Manager
The aircraft will stop on the runway (i.e. it wonʼt taxi onto the apron) at 1000hrs. The Royal Couple will descend the stairs and step into a personal mini-maneaba (traditional thatched house) that has been constructed by PWD. This is going to take the place of the canoe that the Queen used. Thatʼs rather a clever twist on the traditional form of welcome. Full marks to whoever thought that one up.
The mini-maneaba will be lifted by a team of strong young men - apparently a great many, not only so as to share the honour around but also because the structure is very heavy. The Couple will be carried from the plane to the Vaiaku Maneaba; the couple will disembark (or rather ʻdismountʼ) from their mini-maneaba and enter the main maneaba. Then speeches of welcome and all the usual brouhaha.
Then six of the islands (one misses out, for unknown reasons) will put on brief fateleʼs. They are limited to five minutes each! I cannot imagine a five minute fatele. As you know, a single song/dance/drum bashing usually takes longer than five minutes.
Then the couple will go to the Government Offices (I suppose in their mini-maneaba). I donʼt know whatʼs planned there, but perhaps signing of the Visitors Book. QE2 and Prince Philʼs signatures are in there of course. Prime Minsiter Bikenibeu Paeniu showed it to me years ago.
Next they will go to Vaiaki Lagi Hotel, but not inside. They are going to visit the palm tree that Williamʼs mother planted thirty years ago. I have passed that tree thousands of times without knowing its history. It is said that they are going to be served a drinking nut each from that tree. Eti told me that it has been tidied up, so I have just been to the hotel to have a look. Right enough, it has had a coral stone wall put around the base, as has the lime tree right next to it. Do you know the trees I mean? They are right outside the hotel kitchen door.
Then the Couple are going to EKT. I donʼt know why; perhaps to visit the main church. Presumably they will go by car, otherwise the team of bearers is going to be worn out! Then theyʼll continue on up the road to Nauti Primary School and then Princess Margaret Hospital (the new building retained the old name, as you know).
Then on to Edgworth Davidʼs bore hole (often called Darwinʼs Hole, as you know). Apparently the program ends there, although that canʼt be right because there has to be canoe racing. Perhaps thatʼs later in the day. Canoes are coming in from the outer islands (by Nivaga II) and community elders are coming too.
In the evening there will be an official dinner at Vaiaku Lagi Hotel but guests will be limited to twelve from each island. Thatʼs scheduled to finish at 2130hrs, which apparently is end of the dayʼs activities. I thought there would be a fatele afterwards but apparently not.
Then the Couple retire to the Defence Force Complex (i.e. what we call the ʻNavy Houseʼ) and they get to sleep in Brendanʼs apartment (brand new mattress however) and the Royal security bods get to sleep in Lurchʼs apartment.
Next morning, at 1000hrs, up, up and away!
The communities are entering into the spirit of it all, of course. Itʼs a very special occasion. The cost is enormous. Imagine how much food thereʼs going to be. There might only be 100 or so at the VLH for the official dinner but there will be feasting all over the place I expect.
Seems like itʼs going to be fun. Of course, it should fun in FUN.
Best regards, John
14 / 09 / 12 - 12 : 00