China delegation welcomed in ava ceremony

By Talaia Mika 29 May 2023, 8:15PM

Over 200 Chinese nationals who flew into the country on the inaugural direct flight from China were officially welcomed in an ava ceremony at the Maota o Samoa on Monday evening.

Prior to the starting of the ava ceremony, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, La’auli Leuatea Schmidt started off with a prayer that he shared with the country's foreign visitors as a Samoan way of kick-starting any important event.

In his opening remarks, La'auli acknowledged the support of the People's Republic of China to Samoa over the years and added that it was an honour to welcome the guests from the Chinese delegation.

"We acknowledge with gratitude the support of China to Samoa. On behalf of our people, members of parliaments, traditional high chiefs and orators of our country we'd like to welcome you to Samoa," he said.

"This project is a very important project for the Samoan people because this is the first time in history we have a direct flight from China to Samoa."

The ava ceremony was performed by the staff of the Samoa Tourism Authority (S.T.A.) with cups served to members of the Chinese delegation as a token of appreciation for their visit. 

Following the ava ceremony, an E.F.K.S. youth group who were invited to provide entertainment for the guests performed and entertained the guests. The welcome dinner concluded with some fire knife dancing on the deck also performed by the S.T.A staff.

The Chinese delegation watched the performances with interest, the dances their first glimpse of culture since their arrival on Sunday with the intricacies of the ava ceremony giving them insights into the complexities of Samoan life. 

Most of the visitors were mostly Chinese business representatives who used the trip as a fact-finding mission of Samoa and its economic potential. The direct flights to Samoa from China are 10 years in the making, as it was one of the key pointers of an Air Rights Agreement signed between Samoa and China in 2015. 

The Chinese business representatives will be in Samoa for seven days and are accommodated by the St Therese Resort, St Therese Retreat, Samoa Traditional Resort, Le Ric Accommodation, Alec Accommodation, Moatoga Hotel, Hotel Elisa, and the Le Sanita Hotel.

The Associate Minister of Police, Fepuleai Faasavalu Su'a was amongst the passengers who arrived from China. Associate Minister of Works, Transport and Infrastructure, Niuava Eti Malolo, Associate Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, Faleomavaega Titimaea Tafua, and the Ambassador of China to Samoa, Chao Xiaoliang joined La'auli in welcoming the visitors.

Attempts by this newspaper to get a comment from La'auli on the visit of the Chinese delegation were unsuccessful. The Chief Executive of Samoa Tourism Authority, Pativaine Petaia Tevita said five direct flights from China have been approved for the coming months.

By Talaia Mika 29 May 2023, 8:15PM
Samoa Observer

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