Baron Vaea

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Baron Vaea
Baron Vaea.jpg
Prime Minister of Tonga
In office
22 August 1991 – 3 January 2000
Preceded by Tu'i Pelehake (Fatafehi)
Succeeded by 'Aho'eitu 'Unuaki'otonga Tuku'aho
Personal details
Born (1921-05-15)15 May 1921
Tonga
Died 7 June 2009(2009-06-07) (aged 88)
Houma, Tongatapu, Tonga
Spouse(s) Baroness Tuputupu Vaea

Siaosi Tuʻihala ʻAlipate Vaea Tupou, who was more commonly known as Baron Vaea, (15 May 1921 – 7 June 2009) was a Prime Minister of Tonga. Vaea was a nephew of Queen Salote, who ruled Tonga from 1918 until 1965, and a member of the Tongan nobility.[1] His career in the Tongan government spanned 54 years.[2]

Vaea was Prime Minister from 22 August 1991 until 2000 under the former King Taufa'ahau Tupou IV.[3] He had previously served as Tonga's first High Commissioner to the United Kingdom from 1969 until 1972, as well as in various ministerial posts from 1972 until his appointment as Prime Minister by King Taufa'ahau Tupou IV in 1991.[3]

The late Vaea and his wife, Baroness Tuputupu Vaea, are the parents of the current Queen of Tonga, Nanasipauʻu Tukuʻaho.

Biography[edit]

Early life[edit]

Baron Vaea was born on 15 May 1921, to parents Vīlai Tupou and Tupou Seini.[2] His father, Vīlai Tupou, was the half brother of Queen Sālote, while his mother, Tupou Seini, was the daughter of a Tongan nobleman named Vaea.[2] He attended Wesley College, Auckland, from 1938 until 1941.[2] He enlisted in the Royal New Zealand Air Force following his graduation from high school and the outbreak of World War II.[1] Vaea served as a pilot in the Air Force from 1942 until 1945[2] piloting PBY Catalina reconnaissance flying boats.[4]

Government career[edit]

Baron Vaea began working for the government of Tonga in January 1945 following his departure from the Royal New Zealand Air Force.[2] He served his aunt, Queen Salote, as Aide-de-Camp from 1953 until 1958.[2]

Vaea became the Governor of Ha'apai in 1960, a position he held until 1968.[2] He became Tonga's first High Commissioner to the United Kingdom from 1969 until 1972.[2][5]

He was appointed to numerous government ministerial portfolios in the Tongan Cabinet beginning in 1972.[3] Vaea was appointed as Tonga's first Minister of Labour and Commerce, and Industries, which he held from 1972 until 1991.[2] As labour minister, Vaea was responsible for the construction of the Small Industries Centre in Ma'ufanga.[2]

Vaea was simultaneously appointed Minister of Agriculture and Forestry in 1975, a position which he continued to hold until his official retirement from government in 2000.[2] Additionally, Vaea also headed the Tongan Ministries of Civil Aviation, Tourism, Education and Marine and Ports, at various points during his career.[2]

Prime Minister of Tonga[edit]

Baron Vaea applied for retirement from government and civil service in the early 1990s.[1][2] However, soon after submitting his retirement application, King Taufa'ahau Tupou IV appointed Vaea as Prime Minister of Tonga.[3] Vaea's predecessor, Fatafehi Tu'ipelehake had resigned from office in 1991 due to declining health.[6] He took office on 22 August 1991, becoming the 12th Prime Minister of Tonga since 1876.[6]

Vaea served as Prime Minister under King Taufa’ahau Tupou IV from 1991 and 2000.[1] He attended the inaugural Pacific Alliance Leaders Meeting (PALM) in 1997, a gathering of Pacific Island Forum nations spearheaded by Japan to enhance cooperation between the Japanese and Pacific Islands governments.[7] Each of Vaea's successors has attended following meetings since 1997.[7]

Vaea's resignation from office was accepted by King Tupou in 2000, and Vaea was able to retire from government at the age of 78.[2] With a career in the Tongan government and civil service spanning 54 years, Vaea remains one of Tonga's longest serving civil servants.[2]

Later life[edit]

In an interview with Matangi Tonga during his retirement, Vaea expressed concern for a number of issues affecting Tonga, including the decreasing supplies of the country's fresh water supplies, the environment, the need for additional capital funds and the negative outlook of many Tongan young people.[2] He also stated that the government should encourage Tongans to enter the business world.[2] Vaea seemed to encourage progress and change in Tonga saying in the interview, "Sometimes I think it would be best if Tonga changed, . . . we should let go of some of our beliefs and the way that we do things that seem to weigh us down."

Death[edit]

Baron Vaea died at his residence, 'Tali ki Ha'apai', in Houma, Tongatapu, Tonga, on 7 June 2009, at approximately 10 pm[2] He was 88 years old.[3] Vaea had sought medical treatment in New Zealand, before returning to Tonga in late May 2009.[2] He had been bedridden since May.[2] Vaea's body was kept at his home in Houma until his funeral.[2]

Baron Vaea was survived by his wife, Baroness Tuputupu Vaea, as well as five of their six children and one adopted daughter.[2] The couple's children are HM Queen Nanasipauʻu Tukuʻaho, 'Alipate Tu'ivanuavou Vaea, 'Amelia Luoluafetu'u Vaea, Luseane Luani, Moimoikimofuta Kaifahina Vaea and Cassandra Tuku'aho of Tu'ivanuavou Vaea).[2] Vaea was predeased by one son, Ratu Edward Vaea.[2]

Vaea's funeral began at 11 am on 13 June 2009.[8] A funeral procession commenced from his residence, called Tali ki Ha'apai, in Houma, to nearby Kolomanatau Cemetery for funeral ceremonies and burial.[8]

Dignitaries in attendance included King George Tupou V, Princess Pilolevu Tuita and other members of the Tongan royal family.[9] Several foreign heads of state also attended including the O le Ao o le Malo of Samoa Tupua Tamasese Efi, his wife, Masiofo Filifilia Tamasese, and Fijian Vice President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau.[9]

Tongan historian Elizabeth Wood-Ellem noted that Baron Vaea remained highly respected by the Tongan people throughout his life, "They certainly held him in enormous respect."[10]

Succession[edit]

Baron Vaea's son ʻAlipate Tuʻivanuavou Vaea was bestowed the title Lord Vaea shortly after his father's death.[11]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d "Tonga’s Baron Vaea passes away". Radio New Zealand International. 8 June 2009. Retrieved 9 June 2009. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y "Baron Vaea passes away after a long life of service". Matangi Tonga. 8 June 2009. Retrieved 9 June 2009. 
  3. ^ a b c d e "Former Tongan PM dies, aged 88". Australian Broadcasting Corporation News. AFP. 8 June 2009. Retrieved 9 June 2009. 
  4. ^ "Former Tongan PM's funeral this weekend". Radio Australia. 12 June 2009. Retrieved 13 June 2009. 
  5. ^ The London Gazette: no. 45840. p. 14297. 1 December 1972. Retrieved 16 June 2009.
  6. ^ a b "The Hon Baron Vaea of Houma biography". Archived from the original on 11 November 2004. Retrieved 9 June 2009. 
  7. ^ a b "Tongan PM to attend Pacific Alliance Leaders Meeting in Japan". Matangi Tonga. 15 May 2009. Retrieved 9 June 2009. 
  8. ^ a b "Tributes for Baron Vaea". Matangi Tonga. 12 June 2009. Retrieved 13 June 2009. 
  9. ^ a b "King and Head of State attend funeral". Matangi Tonga. 13 June 2009. Retrieved 13 June 2009. 
  10. ^ "Tonga prepares for ex-PM's funeral". Australia Network News. 12 June 2009. Retrieved 13 June 2009. 
  11. ^ "Tu'ivanuavou appointed to noble title Vaea", Pacific Islands Broadcasting Association, 17 June 2009

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Fatafehi Tu'ipelehake
Prime Minister of Tonga
1991–2000
Succeeded by
ʻAhoʻeitu ʻUnuakiʻotonga Tukuʻaho
(ʻUlukālala Lavaka Ata)