The passing of Lord Tufui ‘o Talaheu (Taniela Hoko’ila Tufui), one of Tonga’s most distinguished and exceptional Leader of its Public Service is an invaluable loss which is deeply felt with profound sorrow by the Hon. Prime Minister and the Government.
The High Commissioner of Tonga in Australia, H. R. H. Princess Latufuipeka Halaevalu Mata’aho, is representing the Government at the Funeral Service held today, Thursday, 28th April, 2016 at Ballarat, Victoria, in Australia.
A Memorial Service for Lord Tufui in the gracious presence of His Majesty King Tupou VI, and H. M. Queen Nanasipau’u, and the Royal Family was held at 2.30 p.m. today at the Roman Catholic Cathedral of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception at Ma’ufanga. Also present were Lord of the Realms, Government Officials, Church Leaders, Kindred, and many of the People of the Nation.
A Message of Condolence from the Hon. Prime Minister on behalf of the Government has already been conveyed to the widow, Dr. Kerry James (Lady Tufui), part of which is as follows:
The foundation of Lord Tufui’s Public Service career was unique in that he commenced as Crown Solicitor, and thus becoming the first Tongan to assume the l office of Head of the Crown Law Department. This office encompassed the dual responsibilities of Chief Legal Adviser at both the Executive Branch of the Government and the Judiciary, as well as Chief Parliamentary Draughtsman at the Legislative Branch.
In the course of implementing the responsibilities of the Crown Solicitor, it was the pleasure of Her Majesty Queen Salote Tupou III, in Privy Council, to appoint him as Acting Judge of the Supreme Court and the Land Court in the absence from the Kingdom, of the Chief Justice. Once again, this exceptional appointment culminated in opening the gateway for the appointment of a Tongan as Acting Judge of the Supreme Court.
After five years he was promoted in 1971 to the top position of the Public Service, as Secretary to Government, albeit retaining the responsibilities of the Head of the Crown Law Department, until the appointment in 1972 of a substantive Crown Solicitor.
As Government began to lay the foundation for Public Service Reforms, Lord Tufui’s position was re-designated in 1983 from Secretary to Government to Chief Secretary and Secretary to Cabinet. It also entailed other leading designations whereby he played pivotal roles such as Chairperson of the Civil Service Staff Board, Vice Chairperson of the Scholarships’ Committee, Member of the Law Reform Committee, Development Coordination Committee, Civil Aviation Advisory Board, and serving as a Director in the Board of the key Public Enterprises such as the Electricity Power Board, Communications Commission, Water Board, Broadcasting Commission, Dateline Hotel, and the Royal Tongan Airlines.
Similarly, he played a leading role in the formulation of plans and policy for the establishment of several Ministries such as the Ministry of Labour, Commerce and Industries, Ministry of Civil Aviation, Government Information Unit, Ministry of Marine and Ports, Department of Communications, and the Office of the Commissioner for Public Relations.
Given Lord Tufui’s dual extensive knowledge and far – reaching experience in both Management and Law, the scope of his professionalism and leadership was not confined to the national level, but it transcended the international arena. He presided as Chairperson of the Pacific Forum Line Board of Directors for many years.
He was a Member of the Commonwealth Consultative Group which was mandated by the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting to produce the Report entitled “ Vulnerability: Small States in the Global Society ” in 1985.
He played a leading role when representing the Kingdom at major negotiations pertaining to key international Agreements or Conventions for the betterment of the people of the nation, such as the Convention for the Law of the Sea, the Lome Convention (Trade and Aid Agreement between the European Economic Community and the African, Caribbean and Pacific nations), and the Multilateral Fisheries Treaty between the United States and Member States of the Forum Fisheries Agency.
The all-encompassing distinguished and exemplary legacy of Lord Tufui to the development and reform of the Tonga Public Service and, in turn the betterment of the people of the nation, are personified as follows:-
(1) Elevation to life peerage and appointment by His Majesty King Tupou V to the Noble Title of Lord Tufui of Talaheu, and one of the Kingdom’s four founding Law Lords in the Privy Council;
(2) Award of the Honours and Rank of Grand Cross of the Order of Queen Salote;
(3) Pleasure of His Majesty King Taufa’ahau Tupou IV, in Privy Council, on his request to retire from the Public Service.
(4) Appointment as foundational Chairman of the Higher Salaries Review Committee in 2003.
Lord Tufui of Talaheu accordingly retired in July 2001 after 36 years of exceptional and priceless Public Service.