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Rotten dumping destroys scenic coast

Nuku'alofa, Tonga

Cartons of rotten meat and plastic wrappings float on the scenic coastline, near Makeke on 15 December 2014.

A container-load of rotten meat in plastic wrappers dumped off Tongatapu's scenic cliffs at Makeke yesterday, with the knowledge of the Ministry of Health, left a trail of stinking sausages on the lookout area, foul plastic strewn down the cliff face and a sea of brown boxes and plastic bags washing against the coastline.

Dumping continues at the liku as the owners of condemned foods are avoiding the destruction fees at the modern Tapuhia waste management facility.

“It's a beautiful spot, one of the most scenic spots on the coastline, but we were really shocked to see the dumping,” said Helen Mountfort, a New Zealander, who is on holiday in Tonga with her partner. They drove to the look-out point near Hufangalupe yesterday while they were looking for a place to swim.

Breath-taken by the stench, the visitor photographed the boxes of rotten meat floating down the sunset coast. “We had to cover our faces, it was smelling really awful,” she said.

Helen said that they knew something was wrong when they were driving down the track toward the liku and they had to pull over for a convoy of about six or seven vehicles coming the other way out of the area. “There were men in quarantine suits wearing facemasks and hoods, a tractor and a cargo truck carrying a container and a Ministry of Health van,” she said. Following the convoy was a man with an army bag, a facemask and a machete.

“I got a hell of a fright. If you were in any other country and came across something like this you could be seriously at risk, because you might have witnessed something against the law,” she said.

Helen is an experienced traveller in her job as a project manager working on climate issues for the Overseas Development Institute in London, taking her to countries in Africa and Central Asia.

“It was horrific to see the food and plastic down the cliff, and this spot used as a dumping ground. In many countries this kind of environmental dumping is a crime,” she said. “I was shocked that a government ministry was overseeing dumping of plastics into the ocean and that they had no vision of what the implications are for that in the future.

“What about the villages who have to put up with the smell? What about the eyesore? What about the fisheries and the long term consequences of using this beautiful spot as a dumping ground?” she asked.

Dumped rotten meat and plastic wrappings foul Tongatapu's scenic coast near Makeke, 15 December 2014.

Helen said the most disturbing part was the lasting impact of the dumping in the ocean for the next 20 years.

“There appears to be absolutely no accountability or consequence in doing that. Obviously, the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Health are not talking to each other!” she said.


A Ministry of Health inspector confirmed today that they knew about the dumping yesterday and they knew who the owner was but could not release the name. They believed that the Health Act of 2008 gave them the authority over food and said that any queries about the dump should be made in writing to their CEO. The Health Act gives Health inspectors the power to remove or reduce public health risks.

Waste Authority

However, a spokesperson for the Tonga Waste Authority Ltd., a public enterprise, mandated to manage waste disposal in Tongatapu, and to keep Tonga “clean, green and healthy” said that it is in fact the Waste Authority who has the authority to destroy all waste under the Waste Management Acts of 2005 and 2009.

“In matters like that involving commercial waste, it's the Ministry of Health who is responsible for telling people to abandon selling products. But in order to dispose of it, the owner is to give the condemned products to the Waste Authority.”

The spokesperson said that their Tapuhia waste management facility would charge around $700 to destroy a container of food products.

“The responsibility of the Ministry of Health is that they have to be there to see that it's destroyed, but the Waste Authority has the authority to destroy everything,” he said.

The spot has previously been used by commercial dumpers. See Rotten chicken fouls scenic coast


This is a disgusting example of a lack of concern for the environment and the stupidity of a government department that condones dumping of rubbish anywhere. The Ministry of Commerce Tourism and Labour have been running extensive campaigns to get communities to clean up the environment, to pick up rubbish and the Ministry of Health dumps tonnes of rubbish into the sea. The damage to sea life with all the plastic bags and strapping is dreadful and apart from the stench and eyesore, it does nothing to encourage the community to care for their areas. Dreadful attitude and a very poor example to young people when they see government officials despoiling the environment.

'Oku mo'oni 'aupito 'a e lau 'a Stuart Perry ke fai hotau lelei taha ke fakama'a 'a e 'ea. Ka ko e taha pe 'eni ia 'o e ngaahi founga ke faka'auha 'aki 'etau veve, ke laku ki tahi, ke mo'ui atu ai ha fa'ahinga ika. Kapau te tau toe sio ki he ngaahi founga kehe, ko e fakatupu aipe 'a e 'pollution'. Kapau te tau hanga 'o tanu, tene uesia 'a e ngaahi lelei 'o e kelekele, ka 'i he tafa'aki 'e taha 'e toe kau lelei pe ia ki he kelekele, pea taimi ni'ihi 'e 'aluhifo pe kinoha'a koia 'o hoko ko e vai lelei 'o tau kaukau ai. Kapau tetau tutu ,ko'ene 'alu hake pe kohu 'o 'polluted' ai 'ae 'ea ,pea ha'u ai mofuike moe afa 'o faka'auha kitautolu. 'Aia ko e loto 'o Perry ke 'i ai ha loketi ke fa'o ai 'etau veve 'o fana'i ki he ngaahi palanite kehe kae'oua na'a 'uli 'ae 'ea 'o mamani. Ko e 'ea 'o mamani na'e ngaohi pe ia ke 'uli mo ma'a, pea na'e ngaohi pe 'a e 'ea lelei ia kene ngaohi 'ae 'ea kovi ke lelei .'Oku ou tui 'oku fe'unga pe founga 'a e pule'anga ki hono faka'auha 'etau veve ..... SAIA.

Actions speaks louder than words! When we allow garbage dumping in our homes, we have no right to tell others to do likewise. In a recent Climate conference meeting in Lima, a speaker said that "We as one of the world’s most vulnerable countries and urges world leaders to revise their development strategies taking up the challenge of adopting and reverting to a more sustianable means for development The failure to act will guarantee the rapid Deterioration of our planet, Our People, Our Islands, Our Cultures," blah blah blah ... Well, we're doing our best to degrade our own homes and that's the sad and tragic reality.

Thank you Matangi Tonga, for highlighting this and other disgusting incidences. In other parts of the world, the Ministers of Health & Environment would be compelled to resign because of the shame of allowing these sort of things to continue happening … But this is Tonga so a Tongan solution needs to be found. Our elected leaders and highly paid government officials continue to attend regional and international talk fests where funds are promised to deal with environmental and climate change related problems caused by the consumption habits of the inhabitants of Planet Earth. And yet the dumping of rotten food continues to happen with no reaction from the Ministries of Health, Environment, Education, Finance and Parties... .

Charlotte is correct … Action speaks louder than words. Stuart Perry is spot on. The inaction of those in power who the taxpaying public pay (handsomely) to look after our health and environment, is not a good example for the community and our young people. While we work on changing our own individual behaviours and in the process setting better examples for our children to follow by cleaning our own homes, disposing our rubbish in an environmentally friendly manner and being more grateful and respectful of God’s creation Planet Earth, at the same time we must find a way to motivate our political, church, business and community leaders to set better examples.

Tupou IV used the slogan that we should all treat our bodies as “ the holy temple through which we serve our God” So, we need to eat the right foods, exercise and reduce the abuse of our bodies with tobacco, alcohol and other substances. However, it seems that inaction and lack of good examples over the years has led to the plague of Non Communicable Diseases and associated health problems which has given Tonga the dubious honour of being the fattest people in the world. Our people’s addiction to fast foods continues to be fueled by availability of sub-standard food imports being dumped into people’s bodies and now to rot in the pristine environment.

Christmas, the New Year and the Uike Lotu is an appropriate time for more people to be engaged in the conversations to find solutions for this and the many other problems facing our beloved country. With the newly elected Members of Parliament beginning their term, we have to work together to ensure a better future for future generations.