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Church group wants to buy land, build church in Fiji

NUKUALOFA, Tonga (Radio Tonga News, March 18, 2008) - The Government had agreed last month to donate 50,000 Fijian dollars an equivalent of 65,000 pa’anga [US$31,850] towards the Suva Tongan Church Project.

Lopeti Senituli of the Prime Minister’s Office told Radio Tonga News that the Project is an initiative of the Tongan community in Suva and the amount of money to be donated is the Government’s contribution to the Project.

The objective of the Suva Tongan Church Project is to purchase a piece of property across the road from USP for a Church and a community hall and other facilities to cater for Tongans living in Suva and for those visiting Suva to apply for US visitors visas.

Rev. Dr. Tevita Havea, a senior lecturer at the Pacific Theological College, had written to and had a meeting with the Hon Prime Minister in January 2008 on behalf of the Tongan community in Suva, seeking Government assistance for their Project.

The Tongan community in Suva is made up mainly of Tongans working in regional and international organizations based in Suva, such as the Pacific Islands Forum and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community and the Tongan staff and students at the regional educational institutions such as the University of the South Pacific, Pacific Theological College, Pacific Regional Seminary, Fiji School of Medicine and the Fiji Institute of Technology.

In a press statement from the Prime Minister's Office, the Hon Prime Minister, Dr. Feleti Sevele said, "Cabinet was pleased to be able to make a donation of FJ$50,000 towards this worthy cause."

During a brief stopover in Suva in January, the Prime Minister, had visited the site with Mr. Filimone Fifita from the USP Tongan community and held discussions on the Project with Fiji’s Prime Minister, Commodore Frank Bainimarama.

According to Rev. Dr. Havea, the piece of property was priced at FJ$260,000 and by the end of December 2007 they had been able to raise F$160,000. They also sent a delegation to visit the Tongan communities in the US to raise awareness about their Project and to fundraise.

Meanwhile, Lopeti says, the money is yet to be transferred but the Ministry of Finance is in the process of handling it over to the Suva Tongan Project

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