Former Premier of Niue Sir Toke Talagi dies aged 69
Niue’s longtime premier, Hon Sir Toke Tufukia Talagi (KNZM), has passed away.
The 69-year-old joined his ancestors on Wednesday afternoon after years of ailing health.
Talagi had flown to New Zealand last week, where he received medical treatment in Auckland, and returned to Niue on Sunday.
In a statement on Facebook, Talagi’s family acknowledged Niue and New Zealand’s medical services for returning their father and husband to the island.
“We are forever grateful to the medical teams of the Niue Foou Hospital, the Auckland City Hospital and the New Zealand Air Ambulance Service, for the unwavering care given to our dearest father, and the Government of Niue for honoring all of our wishes to bring him home to spend his final days.”
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her deputy Winston Peters extended their condolences to his family and the people of Niue.
“Sir Toke was an elder statesman of the Pacific and a long and close friend to New Zealand,” said Ardern.
“He will be remembered for his lifelong commitment to safeguarding Niue’s future security and prosperity, as demonstrated by his steadfast championing of sustainable economic development, education, and the protection of Niue’s taoga (cultural treasures).
“I spoke with Sir Toke only a few months ago. We talked about Niue’s Covid response, the people of Niue and his recent book. He was fiercely proud of Niue, and rightly so. It was a place he dedicated his life and service to.”
Peters acknowledged Talagi’s influence over Niue’s external engagement across the Pacific and the globe.
“He remained a steadfast advocate for Niue over the years, resolutely guiding and shaping Niue’s future course and influencing the lives of Niueans across generations,” said Peters.
“Our thoughts are with the people of Niue and the extended Talagi family at this difficult time.”
Talagi was first elected in 1999. He served an impressive 12 years as Premier from 2008 to June 2020 and was knighted by Governor General Patsy Reedy in the 2017 New Year honours.
He lost his bid to a fifth term in office in the country’s general elections in May.
By Moana Makapelu Lee
Below: Tagata Pasifika’s 2017 interview with Sir Toke Talagi.