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Thursday 9 November 2023 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in 52nd Pacific Islands Forum 2023, National, Outer Islands
Samantha Taala Ramea, left, and Isabella Ramea, both Samoan, were excited to see Samoa Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mata'afa on Aitutaki yesterday. 23110970
The leaders arrived to the reception at Orongo Park
transported in buses and welcomed with a traditional turou, for the
welcoming ceremony of the 52nd Pacific Islands Forum.
Over 400 people attended the special occasion.
Noticebly absent was the President of Nauru David Adeang.
However, his absence did not dampen the spirit of the leaders
who joined in the festivities, dancing for a delighted audience.
Te Aito dance troupe entertained the guests and gathered
crowd with their riveting drumming and stunning dancers.
Aitutakian women, Tutapu Vlasveld and Kaiti Tamu both said
they were excited to be present at the event.
"I'm excited for this happening, it's big for us.
"All the women helped to sew the tivaivai and each
village cooked food to bring here for this ceremony," Tamu said.
In anticipation of the leaders arriving, in the morning,
Samoans Samantha Taala Ramea, and Isabella Ramea set up Samoan flags and a
banner to welcome Samoa's Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mata'afa.
"I'm so excited," said Samantha, who had the
privilege of giving Mataafa an ei on her arrival at the airport
"Many of my family at home in Samoa won't get to meet
her like I have, it's so exciting."
Following the ceremony, the leaders departed for Tamanu
Resort for a meal, while those gathered enjoyed a feast at Orongo Park.
Today the leaders will get a glimpse of the island’s beauty
when they depart O’otu Wharf on board Vaka Teariki Moana and Vaka Titi-Ai-Tonga
for a lagoon cruise and Leaders Retreat.
The planting of a Tamanu Tree on One Foot Island is
scheduled around 12 noon followed by an official photograph, and then an
official press conference at 3pm in Aitutaki Village.
They then depart for Rarotonga.