Late Princess Mele Siu'ilikutapu is laid to rest at Mala'ekula, Nuku'alofa, June 3rd. Photo: Matangi Tonga Online/Tupou Vaipulu/23060504
One of Tonga's most celebrated royals, the late Princess Mele Siu'ilikutapu, has been laid to rest in Nuku'alofa.
The coffin of the late Princess was lowered in the
royal tombs of Mala'ekula near the Royal Palace of Tonga on Saturday morning,
Her flag-draped coffin was carried towards Mala'ekula
by high ranking officers of the Tongan military (His Majesty's Armed Forces).
King Tupou VI, his family and chiefs made up a
procession that accompanied the coffin.
Matapules (King's/Chief's spokesmen) and Students from
Queen Salote College, which Princess Siu'ilikutapu attended, sat in formation
outside the tombs.
The Mala'ekula cemetery is reserved for the members of
Tonga's royal family and has served as a burial ground since the Tonga's first
Christian king Tupou I was buried there in 1893.
Princess Siu'ilikutapu passed away on Sunday May 28
aged 75 in Auckland where she lived in retirement.
New Zealand's Prime Minister Chris Hipkins issued a
public statement expressing his condolences and a tributary speech was
delivered by Minister of Pacific Peoples Barbara Edmonds in Parliament.
"Note that she was a formidable leader and a
proud advocate for women, and she played an instrumental role in the dawn raids
apology. She courageously fought for causes that were important to her people
and the wider Pacific and the preservation of the Tongan language," said
A visitation service was held in West Auckland for the
late princess, attended by the Maori king Tuheitia.
The legacy of Princess Siu'ilikutapu
Princess Mele Siu'ilikutapu was the eldest daughter of
Tu'i Pelehake, the brother of King Tupou IV.
By Tongan royal custom, cousins are considered to have
the same social status as brothers/sisters although in not direct line to the
In 1975, she became the first woman to serve in
Tonga's Parliament, elected as a people's representative, and is widely
credited as an inspiration to women in Tonga wanting to pursue politics.
She actively advocated the empowerment of women in
Tonga through various projects. She was president of the Langafonua Gallery and
Handicrafts Centre, and deputy president of National Women's Organisation.
The Late Princess would continue her advocacy in New
Zealand where she later retired.
She backed calls to grant better rights for
But perhaps the most memorable moment in her legacy
was her speech at the Dawn Raids Apology ceremony in 2021 where she formally
accepted a public apology from Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
"I was in parliament in Tonga...when the dawn
raids occurred," said Princess Siu'ilikutapu.
"We were very concerned...the Government's (New
Zealand) policy in the Dawns Raid era was racist and unjust because it was
targeted against my people and other brown people at the time.
"The trauma of the dawn raids is
intergenerational...and will be for years to come if we don't do the right
"Aotearoa is extremely beautiful and vibrant
country to live in compared to many countries worldwide...let us make Aotearoa