National Geographic Expedition Group Arrives In Tonga

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Botanical Garden in Vava‘u honored by visit

NUKU‘ALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, April 22, 2015) – A National Geographic Expedition group that arrived in Vava’u by a private jet, visited ‘Ene’io Botanical Garden in Tu’anekivale for the first time on 17 April with a second visit planned for September this year.

A highlight of the visit was the naming of the "National Geographic Expeditions Avenue", unveiled in the garden by Benla Bennet, an 85-year-old member of the National Geographic staff.

The Tongan botanical garden operated by Haniteli and Lucy Fa’anunu is situated on 22 acres of land and hosts 585 plant varieties, including native and exotic species.

Lucy said that Tonga was the first destination in its 2015 National Geographic expeditions and the visit was made under a program ‘Ocean and Wonders and Island Cultures: An extraordinary Journey by Private Jet’.

"These visits are real achievements not only for us but for Vava’u and Tonga," she said. "We are very grateful and proud to gain the recognition, selection and endorsement of our botanical garden as a worthwhile destination."

Polynesian Cultural Tour at the botanical garden was part of a tour of 85 visitors and scientists who arrived in Vava‘u on 16 April.

Another group went on a snorkeling tour of selected islands with Dr Sylvia Earle, a world-renowned marine biologist.

Lucy said the visitors also observed tapa making demonstration, weaving, preparing of kava drink and cultural performances.

The National Geographic Society is world renowned for its work in preserving species and habitats, protecting cultures and advancing the understanding of our planet. It has a cable television available to 435 million homes in 173 countries in 37 languages with a National Geographic magazine available worldwide.

Lucy said the Tonga trip was coordinated with efforts by the Directors of Unparalleled Journeys of Christchurch (UPJ) that recognised Tonga as a unique and authentic destination.

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