Tonga’s first participation in PPSEAWA was as observers during the Sixth International Conference held in New Zealand in 1952. Tonga was represented by Miss Dilys Rowlands,Mrs. Nanisi Helu, Miss Mafi Finau and Miss `Alisi Manu. Upon their return to Tonga, they visited HMQueen Salote with a report on the Conference. Queen Salote encouraged the founding of a national organization forwomen, Langafonua, in 1953, and an international organization, Pan Pacific Women’s Association, in 1954.
The 10thPan Pacific Women’s Association’s InternationalConference was held in Tonga, 15-27 August 1964. The Conference theme was ‘The Role of Womenin Preserving the Cultural Heritage of Mankind’. The leader of the Tongandelegation was HRH Princess Mata`aho Tungi. The 202 delegates from 13 countries were accommodated in the homes ofPPSEAWA Tonga members.
Tonga continued to send delegations to thePPSEAWA International Conferences. Mrs.Oto’oto Eva represented Tonga on the PPSEAWA International Council as SecondVice President, 1964-1965, as First Vice President, 1965-1968, and as VicePresident, 1968-1972.
In 1990, HM Queen Halaevalu Mata`ahoTuku`aho attended the 18thPPSEAWA International Conference inThailand. During the Conference hergracious invitation to host the 19thInternational Conference in theKingdom of Tonga was accepted by the Council.
Just as the women of Tonga had supported the late Queen Salote in the preparation of the 1964Conference, they supported HM Queen Halaevalu Mata`aho Tuku`aho in the preparation of the 1994 Conference. The Conference included trips to both the west and the east side of Tongatapu where women in the villages prepared traditional displays of handicrafts and shared their culture with the PPSEAWA international delegates
The theme of the Conference was “Women of Wisdom Are Pillars of Nations”. HE Datin Seri Dr. Siti Hasmah Binti Haji Mohamed Ali, the Prime Minister of Malaysia’s wife, was the guest of honour. HRH Princess Nanasipau`u Tuku`aho, who had attended the cultural evenings of the1964 Conference as a little girl with her mother, was the 1994 Conference Chairperson.
During the 1994Conference HRH Princess Nanasipau`u Tuku`aho was elected International Vice President.
Following the Conference PPSEAWA Tonga continued their environment project and began hospital and girls’ scholarship projects. PPSEAWA Tonga has sponsored a variety of projects, but these have been the three areas of their ongoing concern.
In 1997 `Ala Luani led a full Tongan delegation to the Conference in Malaysia in support of HM Queen Halaevalu Mata`aho Tuku`aho who was the guest of honour.
In 2000 `Ala Luani rallied in her fight against cancer to again lead a full Tongan delegation. The 21st International Conference was held in the beautiful Cook Islands. The Sunday afternoon peace service featured HRH Princess Nanasipau`u Tuku`aho speaking on “Peace in the Pacific”.
At the final business meeting Her Royal Highness was elected PPSEAWA International President and served from 2000–2004. Captain Kalo Fohewas International Secretary (2001-2004) and By-Laws Chairperson (2000 -present).
HRH Princess Nanasipau`u Tuku`aho’s goal as International President was and Directors to strengthen PPSEAWA as an international organization. She began her endeavor by calling Interim Executive Meetings, assigning countries for International Vice Presidents and Directors to oversight, improving the English standard of the By-Laws and finally by bringing the By-Laws in line with PPSEAWA practices and printing a PPSEAWA directory.
HRH Princess Nanasipau`u Tuku`aho was unable to attend the 22ndInternationalConference in Singapore in May 2004, but she hopes that future PPSEAWA International Presidents will continue to build on her endeavors. First Vice President, Valerie Hogan, who originally joined PPSEAWA while residing in Tonga, presided as Conference Chairperson on behalf of Princess Nanasi.
Tonga was represented at the Conference by a delegation led by Melenaite Tangi. During the last business meeting of the Conference, the International Vi was elected to serve as a Director on the International Council.
Upon their immediate return to Tonga, PPSEAWA members participated in the June Environment Week Village inspection.
The Jubilee Celebrations
What a tremendous privilege it was to be able to attend the celebration of the Golden Jubilee of PPSEAWA Tonga at Queen Salote College Hall on Saturday, December 11th.
Queen Salote College Hall was well decked out, reminiscent of the International Conference in 1994. Her Majesty, the patron of PPSEAWA Tonga, Queen Halaevalu Mata'aho was the Guest of Honour.
The programme began with a Commemoration Service. Music was led by ‘Alisi Fotu who conducted her Kolofo’ou District Women’s Choir.
I felt very honoured to bring the greetings from PPSEAWA International President Dr. Viopapa Annandale, as well as those from the Auckland President Dr. Niva Thakaduras.
I thanked Her Majesty for inviting me in 1973 to my first PPSEAWA meeting in Tonga. It was an opportunity not only to look back with pride at the women who proceeded us, those far-seeing women who over fifty years ago came to New Zealand (not an easy journey in those days), but also to recall those dear sisters who were no longer with us.
HRH Princess Nanasipau’u Tuku’aho was the guest speaker. Her Royal Highness explained the details of the flower garden competition that had been held throughout Tongatapu and was, as usual, very encouraging to all the members.
I blew out the candles on the Jubilee Cake with Fuiva Kavaliku who was representing Langafonua, the sister organisation of PPSEAWA Tonga.
The focus on the celebration was the annual Prize Giving, first for the cleanest villages in each district, then for the flower gardens, and finally for the floral arrangements. Wow, what they can do with island flowers!!
An extravagant tea accompanied by entertainment followed. The whole programme was recorded and televised.
Tuesday we had an early start. Princess Nanasi gave us a special treat - breakfast 7:30 a.m. with the PPSEAWA executive at a new restaurant, 'Escape'
Captain Kalo Fohe and I had dinner at Waterfront Restaurant. The waterfront in Tonga is so pretty at night with all the Christmas lights. Tonga PPSEAWA are sorry to be losing the services of Kalo – this is of course Auckland’s gain. A special 'thank you' to my host Rev Toe’umu Fineanganofa, and my chauffer the PPSEAWA Tonga President, Mrs. Melenaite Tangi.
May Tonga continue to be an example to us all in upholding the aims and objectives of PPSEAWA.
They are such an inspiration in their dedication and their focus.
Malo aupito PPSEAWA Tonga.