31 May, 2023

The late HRH Princess Mele Siu'ilikutapu

Photo of the late HRH Princess Mele Siu'ilikutapu

“Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all. Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Honour her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.” – Proverbs 31:29 31 

The Fono joins Pasifika peoples across New Zealand and the world in mourning the loss of HRH Princess Mele Siu‘ilikutapu Kalaniuvalu Fotofili of Tonga.

Princess Mele Siu‘ilikutapu leaves an outstanding legacy of public service. Throughout her distinguished life, she worked tirelessly for Tonga’s people, both at home and in New Zealand.She was a passionate advocate for women and, in 1975, became the first woman to be elected as a Member of Parliament in Tonga. She advocated for women throughout her career, serving as Deputy President of the National Women’s Organisation and founding the Women’s Christian Fellowship in Tonga and New Zealand.Princess Siu‘ilikutapu was one of the keynote speakers at the New Zealand Dawn Raid Apology in 2021.

She represented the voices of the Tongan and Pasifika communities and hailed the apology as a moment of great healing.Among Princess Siu‘ilikutapu’s other achievements was her unswerving advocacy for the Tongan language and culture. She was President of the Langafonua Gallery and Handicrafts Centre, which promotes traditional Tongan skills and artistry.

The Fono’s Chairperson, Nacanieli Yalimaiwai, commented: ‘The Fono is united in sorrow with the people of Tonga at this sad time.’ ‘HRH Princess Siu‘ilikutapu was an exceptional Pacific leader and champion of women. Her long record of dedicated public service sets a shining example for us all,’ said Yalimaiwai. He added that the loss of Princess Siu‘ilikutapu will be felt deeply by Pasifika communities across New Zealand and around the globe.