TONGA has farewelled a former Member of Parliament - the first elected female parliamentarian to the Legislative Assembly of Tonga.
Her late Royal Highness Princess Mele Siu’ilikutapu Kalaniuvalu Fotofili was laid to rest at the Mala’e Kula Royal Tomb, Saturday, June 3, 2023.
His Majesty King Tupou VI and the Royal Family, Cabinet Ministers and Members of Parliament, diplomats, church leaders and the public attended a farewell service at Mala’e Kula to bid farewell to the loving princess.
Dowager Lady Kalaniuvalu Fotofili was born on 12 May 1948 as the eldest daughter of Late Prince Fatafehi Tu’ipelehake Tuku’aho and Late Melenaite Tupoumoheofo Veikune Tu’ipelehake.
She started her primary school here in Tonga before continuing her education in the Anglican Diocesan School for Girls in Epsom, Auckland New Zealand.
In 1970 HRH married Lord Kalaniuvalu Fotofili Ngalumotutulu and they were blessed with two sons. They are Hon. Tiofilusi Fatuilangi Ngalumotutulu & Hon. Tepiuti Tupoulahi Mailefihi.
Lord Kalaniuvalu passed away and his eldest son, Hon. Tiofilusi was installed with the noble estate holder title Noble Kalaniuvalu while Hon. Tepiuti was given the Lord Fotofili title in 1998.
The then Lord Kalaniuvalu married Marchelle Ramsay Manu in January 2010 and passed away in April the same year. Upon his older brother’s death, Hon. Tepiuti Tupoulahi Mailefihi, was also installed with the hereditary Noble title Lord Kalaniuvalu. He is now known as His Serene Highness Prince Kalaniuvalu Fotofili.
In 1975, the late Princess contested in the general election and was elected as the first female parliamentarian to enter Parliament until 1978.
Despite leaving politics, Dowager Lady Kalaniuvalu Fotofili represented Tonga in numerous regional and international women’s meeting including her attendance at the Presidential Prayer Breakfast in Washington DC in February 1988 during former President Ronald Reagan’s time.
She also plays an active role as an advocate of women and youth empowerment.
Late Princess Mele Siu’ilikutapu was also the Patron of the Pacific Women’s Christian Association. She also attended many crusades overseas including the New Man Crusade (1988), Nicky Cruz Crusade (2007) and 2015 Pacific Nations Crusade in 2015, Billy Graham Crusade and YYAM Lafalafa Crusade in Tonga (2022).
Her faith in God led her to playing proactive role in leading prayer intercession in Tonga and in New Zealand.
Today’s memorial and farewell service at Mala’e Kula, the President of the Free Wesleyan Church (FWC) Reverend. Dr. Tevita Koloa’ia Havea made a tribute that her late HRH was indeed a Princess of wisdom from above. She dedicated her work not for her own good but also to uplifting and helping others to pursue a pure, righteousness and live a Godly life.
Tributes were also conveyed from overseas to His Majesty King Tupou VI, His Serene Highness Prince Kalaniuvalu Fotofili and the Royal Family. This includes condolences from the New Zealand Government, British and Northern Ireland, NZ Defense, and the US Indo-Pacific Command in the Pacific.
The New Zealand Government remembered the late Princess as she spoke at the Dawn Raid Apology in 2021 representing the voice of Tongans and the Pacifica People. “She was deeply important to the Tongan people of Tonga, and we acknowledge her contribution to the nation.”
The British High Commissioner to Tonga H.E Lucy Joyce on behalf of Great Britain and Northern Ireland expressed their sincere condolences to the bereaved Royal Household as they mourn the loss of the dear princess.
Meanwhile the NZ Defense Force also offers their most heartfelt sympathy to the Royal Family and his Majesty’s Armed Forces on the princess’ passing.
“HRH Princess Kalaniuvalu will be remembered for the significant contribution she made as a strong advocate for the empowerment of women. And a great ambassador for the Tongan culture both in New Zealand and across wider Pacific region. The NZ Defense Force has a strong Pacific Community who wish to acknowledge and remember the Princess who held great admiration for the Tongan people.
The U.S Defense Indo-Pacific Command also extended their deep sympathy to the King and Royal Family for Princess Mele Siu’ilikutapu who was an impressive leader and will be truly missed.
Her late Princess Mele Siuʻilikutapu passed away in Auckland at the age of 75 at Auckland City Hospital.
The deceased is survived by her son. HSH Prince Kalaniuvalu Fotofili and a grandson.
Today, Free Wesleyan Church school students sat from the Royal Palace to the Royal Tomb during the funeral procession in respect of the late princess’ funeral.
Meanwhile, all national flags in the Kingdom today were flown at half-mast in respect of HRH’s funeral.
Late Mele Siu’ilikutapu passed away in Auckland New Zealand on May 28 before her body was flown for burial in Tonga at the weekend.
The deceased is survived by his youngest son, His Serene Highness Kalanouvalu Fotofili (Noble Representative for the Niuas), who married Marcella Tupoumoheofo Taumoepeau-Tupou. They have one son, Hon. Gennaro Fofotfili.