Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Remembering Princess Mele Siu’ilikutapu Kalaniuvalu Fotofili

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air
Princess Mele Siu’ilikutapu Kalaniuvalu Fotofili of Tonga has passed away at the age of 75
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Gladys Hartson | Senior Journalist

“The apology is a move in the right direction of the healing process…however, the vā could be better and complete should the government respond to the immigration related needs of our community.”

This was the message delivered by Her Royal Highness, Princess Mele Siu‘ilikutapu Kalaniuvalu Fotofili of the Kingdom of Tonga at the historic Dawn Raid Apology in 2021.

A member of the Tongan Royal family, Princess Siu‘ilikutapu passed away in Auckland on Sunday morning (28 May 2023) at the age of 75. She will be remembered for not only her service and commitment to the people of Tonga but her emotional speech to the New Zealand government during the Dawn Raid Apology held in Auckland by former Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

It was fitting that the Princess delivered the response on behalf of the Kingdom as she was the first woman to be elected to the Legislative Assembly in Tonga from 1975 till 1978 during the Dawn Raid period. Her father, the late Prince Tu’ipelehake was the Prime Minister at the time.

In a statement released by the Palace office in Nuku’alofa, the Princess passed away peacefully surrounded by family in Auckland, New Zealand. It is reported that she had been living in Auckland for the past few years.

Princess Mele Siu’ilikutapu addressed Jacinda Ardern at the Dawn Raids apology event. Photo: 1News

Born 12 May 1948, Princess Siu‘ilikutapu, is a cousin of King Tupou VI (current Monarch), and is the second of ten grandchildren of the late Queen Salote Tupou III.

Princess Siu’ilikutapu is the eldest daughter of Prince Fatafehi Tu’ipelehake and his wife Melenaite Tupoumoheofo Veikune. Her father was a brother of the late Taufa’ahau Tupou IV.

She attended Auckland University in the late sixties. She continued to play an active role in Tonga and became the Deputy President of the National Women’s Organisation.

Prime Minister Chris Hipkins has expressed his condolences on behalf of New Zealand on the passing of Tongan Royal Princess Siu‘ilikutapu.

Minister Hipkins says, “Princess Mele Sui’ilikutapu was a formidable leader and a proud advocate for women. She played an instrumental role in the Government’s apology for the 1970s Dawn Raids, and courageously fought for causes that were important to both her people, and the wider Pacific, like the preservation of the Tongan language.

A thanksgiving service will take place on Wednesday evening (NZT) at Morrison Funeral Directors in West Auckland. Princess Siu’ilikutapu will then be returned to Tonga on Friday (NZT) for burial at the Royal Tombs of Mala’ekula, Nuku’alofa.

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