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NUKU’ALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, Feb. 2) - The first Pacific Blue Vava’u Festival opened with a range of activities from game fishing to running, swimming, cycling, traditional dancing, and a handicrafts fair.

[PIR editor’s note: Vava’u is the northernmost island group in Tonga.]

The festival, which runs until February 9 incorporates the Vava’u Tuna Fishing Tournament, a triathlon tournament, a cultural fair day of local handicrafts competition. It is organized by the Vava’u Tourist Association with Pacific Blue Airline coming in as the major sponsor.

The Tuna Fishing Tournament runs from Friday February 3-7, with teams fishing for big yellowfin tuna, dogtooth tuna, and skipjack tuna.

The Triathlon Tournament - a team event of swimming, cycling and running - will follow next week on Wednesday, February 8, and is inviting any company, church, or youth team to enter.

Sponsored by Pacific Blue, the first prize for triathlon are return tickets for three to Auckland/Tonga/Auckland or a reverse route to Tonga/Auckland, and three return tickets to Vava’u/Tongatapu/Vava’u are being offered by Peau Vava’u Airlines.

Jeff Lestrange the owner of Hakula Lodge in Neiafu and local organizer of the Tuna Fishing Tournament said that the cultural day would consist of various competitions such as a decorated local boat parade to be held at the Neiafu Harbour, a decorated vehicle parade, a championship for coconut husking, basket weaving and local crafts display to all be held at the waterfront.

The week’s festivities will be concluded next week with prize giving for competition and local handicrafts as well as presentation of special awards for other tournaments.

This festival is separate from the Vava’u Festival that is held every year to celebrate the Crown Prince’s birthday in May.

February 3, 2006

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