Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

DPM concludes Pacific Mission with emotional homecoming in Tonga

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air
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Alice Lolohea | Reporter/Director/Videographer

Deputy Prime Minister Carmel Sepuloni concluded her three country Pacific Mission with a homecoming of sorts in the Kingdom of Tonga.

On the grounds of Ancient Tonga, Sepuloni’s newfound family gathered to put on a traditional welcome, or hā’unga.

“The Tongan side, I think, knows that my Grandfather married a Samoan woman and raised his family in Samoa,” Sepuloni told those gathered.

“We grew up knowing very little of our Tongan side, except that we were Tongan and Samoan.”

Minister Sepuloni’s Tongan family welcomed her with a hā’unga on the grounds of Ancient Tonga. Photo: Alice Lolohea
Photo: Hon Carmel Sepuloni

Sepuloni discovered that her Father’s Tongan roots began on the island of Niuatoputapu, through which she also shares a family connection with Mate Ma’a Tonga captain Sika Manu.

Tongan Prime Minister Hu’akavameiliku Siaosi Sovaleni also had warm words of welcome for Minister Sepuloni, “we are very proud of the Deputy Prime Minister’s Tongan ancestry.”

“She’s the first Deputy Prime Minister of New Zealand with Tongan heritage and the third woman to hold that position. This is a great reminder of the heights our people can achieve.”

Tongan Prime Minister Hu’akavameiliku Siaosi Sovaleni and NZ Deputy Prime Minister Carmel Sepuloni. Photo: Alice Lolohea
Prime Minister Hu’akavameiliku hosted NZ MP’s for bi-lateral discussions. Photo: Alice Lolohea

Minister Sepuloni and other New Zealand MP’s were hosted by Prime Minister Hu’akavameiliku for bi-lateral discussions.

The pair later held a joint press conference where Prime Minister Hu’akavameiliku acknowledged New Zealand’s continued support for the Kingdom, particularly in areas of economic development, law, education and climate change.

“I think it’s a clear sign that climate change is important for the Deputy Prime Minister and the Zealand government, for the fact that we have the Minister for climate change as part of their delegation,” Prime Minister Hu’akavameiliku said.

Act MP Nicole McKee (right) meets Ha’atafu Community representative Mele Sifa at the Ha’atafu Tree Planting ceremony. Photo: Gladys Hartson
Greens MP Teanau Tuiono plants a new tree on the coastline of Ha’atafu. Photo: Gladys Hartson

And we’ll be continuing to have a discussion on how we work together in advocating for issues that are important, especially dealing with climate change.”

Minister Sepuloni announced at a tree planting ceremony at Ha’atafu Beach, the New Zealand government’s partnership with the SPC, and would commit $30 million dollars towards its Climate Change Flagship programme.

The programme aims to accelerate climate change action in the Kingdom.

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