King Breaks Ground On Tonga’s New Government Building

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Project is ‘new mark in China-Tonga cooperation"

NUKU‘ALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, Aug. 26, 2015) – The construction of a new government building named ‘St George’s Palace’ has begun after HM King Tupou VI planted a black foundation stone at Pangai Si’i at an official groundbreaking ceremony on Tuesday, 25 August.

The memorial stone is engraved for the St George’s Palace project that will transform the park, a green space of old Nuku’alofa, into a multi-storey government office building.

The King, with the Chinese Ambassador to Tonga HE Mr Huang Huaguang and the Prime Minister Hon ‘Akilisi Pohiva shovelled sand around the stone, watched by MPs and guests at the ceremony.

The multi-million pa’anga project is funded with a grant from the Chinese Government to the Government of Tonga.

When the construction of the four-storey building is completed it is expected to house the Prime Minister’s Office, Ministry of Finance and National Planning, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade as well as meeting rooms for government purposes.

Prime Minister Hon ‘Akilisi Pohiva said the formulation of this crucial development program was a project envisioned by the late King George V. Part of this legacy from the late King George V, included the choice of the project site Pangai Si’i, he said.

The PM thanked and welcomed the assistance from China, which supported a feasibility study to be carried out from 2011-14 so that the project could start. He also thanked the King for attending and honouring the groundbreaking ceremony.

Chinese Ambassador to Tonga HE Mr Huang Huaguang in his address believed with joint efforts from all sides this project will be a new mark in China and Tonga’s cooperation.

"In recent years, China-Tonga relations have enjoyed a great rapid development. Our two countries have good cooperation in areas of politics, economy, culture, health, education and infrastructure. The Chinese government values the friendly cooperation with Tonga," said the Ambassador.

Attending the ceremony were Members of Parliament, Cabinet Ministers, representatives from the Chinese contractor and members of diplomatic corps from Japan, Australia and New Zealand.

The construction, which is expected to take 20 months is carried out by main contractor, Shanghai Construction Group Company Ltd. of China.

An artist’s impression at the site depicts the contemporary Chinese building having a central block decorated with classical columns, featuring a Polynesian porch, and topped by a red turret, inspired by the turret of the 19th Century colonial architecture of the Royal Palace. Curved wings on both sides of the central block feature verandahs facing the new cruise ship wharf.

The artist has shown the site surrounded by many green trees. However, the reality of the development is that many well established trees were bulldozed to clear the site for construction. The bandstand was destroyed and the future of the cenotaph is also unclear.

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