26 September 2018
The Prime Minister, Hon Samuela ‘Akilisi Pohiva, and members of his Cabinet hosted Rev. Siupeli Taliai for dinner at the Prime Minister’s Office in St George Government building on Tuesday (25 September) evening.
In his welcoming remarks, the Hon Prime Minister said, “Rev. Siupeli Taliai is the only surviving member of a generation of community and church leaders who had been in the forefront of the campaign for democratic reform in this country. Such leaders included Rev Dr. Sione ‘Amanaki Havea, Bishop Patelisio Finau, Rev Dr. Sione Latukefu, Professor Futa Helu, Dr. ‘Epeli Hau’ofa, and Dr. Hu’akavameiliku, to name only a few. Rev. Dr. Siupeli Taliai is now 92 years old and I consider it a great privilege to be able to welcome him to the Prime Minister’s Office this evening.”
The Hon Prime Minister went on to describe how Rev. Siupeli Taliai, first Tongan Principal of Tupou College and former General Secretary of the Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga had been a constant source of spiritual inspiration and moral support for him as a young student at Tupou College and then later as a teacher and civil servant and most importantly in the campaign for democratic reform in Tonga.
The Hon Prime Minister went on to say, “The small dinner this evening has been put together by the members of Cabinet and their families to acknowledge their indebtedness to Rev Dr. Siupeli Taliai and his generation of leaders who paved the way for democratic reform in this country and allowed them to be elected into positions of leadership in a democratic government today”.
In thanking the Hon Prime Minister and the Cabinet Ministers, Rev Dr. Siupeli Taliai said, “Although I live in Australia now I continue to remind the Hon Prime Minister and some of the former Tupou College students like the Minister for Justice and Minister for Finance, of certain verses from our hymn book as well as passages from the Bible that remind us all that we do not walk alone. That God is always at hand. You do me great honour this evening. An honour which I do not deserve! But I pray that God will continue to guide you all in leading our country!”
Rev Siupeli Taliai also talked extensively about his service to the country as a Church Minister, as Principal of Tupou College and as General Secretary of the Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga. He specifically described his negotiations with Government over compensation for Tupou College for the fruit trees and root crops that were uprooted as a result of the expansion of Fua’amotu ‘Airport. He also referred to his dispute with the Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga which he described as a dispute between, “… my Christian faith and my Tongan culture”. His speech and comments were interspersed by the impromptu singing by the Hon Prime Minister and Cabinet Ministers of the various hymns that he referred to.
During the dinner the Hon Prime Minister informed the guests that he had received a copy of Rev Siupeli Taliai’s letter to the Minister responsible for His Majesty’s Armed Forces, Lord Ma’afu, requesting the Tongan Government repatriate the remains of his older brother, Second Lieutenant Henele Taliai, from the Solomon Islands. He had been the only Tongan soldier killed in the Solomon Islands during World War II. The Hon Prime Minister said that they will discuss the request as a matter of urgency.
Apart from Hon Prime Minister and Cabinet Ministers, other guests present included the Chairman of the Committee of the Whole House, Veivosa Taka; People’s Representative from Vava’u 16, ‘Akosita Lavulavu and ‘Etuate Lavulavu; and People’s Representative from Niua 17, Vatau Hui.
Issued by the: The Prime Minister’s Office, P.O. Box 62, Nuku’alofa, Tonga. Tel: (676) 24 644 Fax: (676) 23 888; For media enquiries- Email: email@example.com Website: www.pmo.gov.to