His Majesty King George Tupou VI unveiled a monument in Tonga on Monday 8 August that recognises the landing and welcome of the first Mormon missionaries to Tonga in 1891.
The unveiling also marked the official start of a week-long celebration in honour of the 100th anniversary of the creation of the Tonga Mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
His Majesty was accompanied at the unveiling service by Her Majesty Queen Nanasipau’u, His Royal Highness Prince Ata, and Prince Tungi, the King’s nephew.
Prince Tungi is the estate holder of the land which is the birth place for the Church and the mission in Tonga, and where the monument is located—Hilatali, Tatakamotonga.
Several government officials attended the event, including the Honorable Prime Minister, ‘Akilisi Pohiva; Lord Tu’ivakano, Speaker of the Parliament; Ministers of the Crown Semisi Sika (Minister of Tourism) and Pohiva Tu’ionetoa (Minister of Police); and Governor of Haapai, Mo’ale Finau.
Local Latter-day Saint leaders, current and former mission presidents and other special guests also attended.
Former mission president Eric B. Shumway—who is also known as “Faivaola,” his chiefly title that was given to him since his early missionary days in 1959—gave the opening remarks at the gathering.
After welcoming Their Majesties and other distinguished guests he explained the reason for the centennial celebration beginning at the site of the memorial, where the first missionaries arrived in Tonga.
Mr. Shumway said that the relationship between the Royal Family and the Church is a historic and highly valued one, playing “a huge role in the growth and the progression of the Church and its mission.”
Latter-day Saint leader, Elder ‘Aisake K. Tukuafu, presided over the meeting which was conducted by President Mateo Lautaimi, a Church leader in the Mu’a area.
Following the unveiling there were some musical items and closing remarks were given by former mission president Pita Hopoate.
The centennial celebration will continue for the rest of the week.