Tongan King Plants Tree in Honor of Center’s 50th Anniversary

Tonga’s King George Tupou V (left) plants a tree at the East-West Center accompanied by EWC President Charles E. Morrison (center) and Board of Governors Chairman Puongpun Sananikone.

His Majesty King George Tupou V of the Kingdom of Tonga recently visited the East-West Center, meeting with leaders from the Center and planting a native Hawaiian ‘Ohia tree in the Center’s courtyard as part of the 50th anniversary year celebration. His Majesty was joined by East-West Center President Charles E. Morrison, who noted the Center’s close ties with the Kingdom through the EWC’s Pacific Islands Development Program (PIDP).

In his remarks, King Tupou acknowledged the intellectual and policy contributions PIDP Director Steven Halapua has made in the current efforts to reform Tonga’s constitution. Proposed reforms that would adapt Tonga’s constitutional monarchy to increase democratic representation are before the country’s parliament this year. Morrison noted that more than 300 Tongans have participated in academic exchange programs at the East-West Center since its inception in 1960.

The ceremony was attended by a number of Hawai‘i public figures, including former Governor George Ariyoshi; former U.S. Congresswoman and Small Business Administration chief Patricia Saiki; Admiral Thomas Fargo, retired Commander of the U.S. Pacific Command; among others.


Posted: Feb. 10, 2010