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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center

With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Reconstructed Vuna Wharf Opens In Tonga
Upgraded dock hoped to serve as hub for tourism

NUKUALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, Dec. 10, 2012) – HM King Tupou VI unveiled a plaque and cut a ribbon to open a new Vuna Wharf, reconstructed with a $32 million pa'anga [US$18.3 million] loan from China, in time to welcome its first cruise ship, the Ocean Princess tomorrow Tuesday 11 December.

The long-awaited opening of the new wharf is expected to help drive the economy forward by attracting more cruise ships to Nuku'alofa.

The work that began in September 2010 was initiated by the former government and Prime Minister Dr. Feleti Sevele.

The projects built with the reconstruction loan from China were handed over to the Government of Tonga in August 2012, but the opening of the wharf was delayed.


Prime Minister Lord Tu'ivakano said Vuna Wharf would become a hub of tourism activities and a magnet for cruise ships and visiting naval vessels, as a cornerstone of the Tonga Government's Strategic Development Framework to boost trade and economic enterprises.

He said this was a vital step forward in government's provision of infrastructure to facilitate growth, generate progress and promote prosperity in Tonga.

Lord Tu'ivakano thanked China's Ambassador HE Mr. Wang Donghua and the Government of the People's Republic of China for the assistance and funding for the project. "A great gesture to Tonga before Christmas," he said.

The wharf was first opened for international shipping in 1906 and was active until the construction of Queen Salote Wharf some 40 years ago. Use of the original wharf was suspended 30 years ago due to damage caused by Cyclone Issac in 1982 which resulted in it being declared as structurally unsafe for shipping and transportation.

He said the main part of the new wharf is constructed of steel piles supporting the concrete deck with four mooring dolphins for cruise ships and a concrete deck structure supporting a minimum of 50 tons bollard. There were also commercial spaces for selling of handicrafts and other goods and services for tourists.


HE Mr. Wang Donghua acknowledged the former government's decision to reconstruct Vuna Wharf as it was the experience of many other countries that infrastructure reconstruction was important for economic development.

He said the wharf has the capacity to promote tourism and economic development for an island country.

"I hope that the wharf will play a vital role in revitalizing the tourism industry in Tonga and improve the well being of the people by creating more job opportunities."

The construction of the actual wharf was completed in November 2011. The work was undertaken by the main contractor China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation CCECC, with Fletcher Construction as sub-contractor and Beca International as the wharf design engineer.

The king was accompanied by Queen Nanasipau'u with Hon. Lupepau'u Tuita, Hon. Fanetupouvava'u Tu'ivakano and husband Kiu Kaho attending.

Also present was the Chairman of Ports Authority Tonga Stephen Edwards; with Mosese Lavemai, Ports Authority General Manager; Tukua Tonga, Director of Planning and Urban Management Agency; Cabinet Ministers and diplomatic corps.

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