Tree of Peace Neiafu_Vava'u_Tonga Marek Sobola

The very first tree of peace in the South Pacific

Neiafu, Vava’u, Tonga, April 28, 2022. Servare et Manere is organizing its largest expedition in connection with the Tree of Peace. Our big journey to Oceania is connected with an important Slovak personality, General Milan Rastislav Štefánik, who, among other careers, was a scientist and an astronomer. In 1911, an extraordinary astronomical event took place in Oceania – a total Solar Eclipse which was visible from the southeastern tip of Australia, Tonga, American Samoa and Cook Islands. On April 28, 1911, Milan Rastislav Štefánik observed this exceptional astronomical phenomenon on a low hill in Vava’u Island near the government administrative center at Neiafu. His expedition achieved one of the best scientific results of the observation of the Solar Eclipse here. Also, in 1911, two concrete pillars were installed on this low hill and one of them with Štefánik’s name. This year marks the exact 111th Anniversary of Štefánik’s visit to Oceania and one important scientific stage of his life. It is an excellent opportunity not only to pay tribute to the 111th Anniversary of the Štefánik’s visit to Oceania but also a significant and unique opportunity for planting several Trees of Peace in the Oceania region.

Our journey to the Oceania region has also a humanitarian dimension. On Friday and Saturday, January 14 and 15, 2022, the Hunga Tonga – Hunga Haʻapai submarine volcano exploded on the uninhabited Tonga Islands. The eruption and tsunami affected the lives of about 84,000 people, representing more than 80 percent of the country’s population. Servare et Manere has partners and friends in the Kingdom of Tonga thanks to the implementation of the ideas of Tree of Peace. Our NGO has therefore decided to provide humanitarian aid to the country through the #slovakiafortonga public fundraiser. To the Catholic Diocese of Tonga & Niue, our Tree of Peace partner, we were able to send 2,500 Tongan paʻanga. Our intention is to spread understanding among nations through specific acts of humanity and friendship. By planting Trees of Peace, we want to point out not only the nonsense of military conflicts, but also point out the meaningless plundering of nature in all its spheres – on land, in the oceans or in the atmosphere. Everybody knows that wars and riots bring great environmental burdens and destroy human destinies.

Already on April 28, 2022, the very first Tree of Peace of the Oceania expedition was planted “at distance” at Vava’u island, because the country is currently closed to visitors and tourists. This Tree of peace planting at Vava’u was done exactly on April 28, 2022, which was exactly the 111th Anniversary of Štefánik’s observations on Tonga. The main partner of Tree of Peace in Tonga was the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tonga & Niue. Our partner was also actively involved in the project and planted a memorial tree – long-lived Casuarina equisetifolia, which was planted in the Catholic presbytery in Neiafu on the island of Vava’u. The memorial pillar will be installed next to the tree next year.

Author of text / messages: Marek Sobola
Source of the photo: Catholic Diocese of Tonga & Niue
Source of text: Busby S. Kautoke