A poet and a teacher from Tonga

One of the longest serving staff of the University of the South Pacific in Fiji, Konai Helu Thaman is currently Professor of Pacific Education and Culture and was the UNESCO Chair in Teacher Education and Culture from 1998-2016. Ms Thaman was born and raised in Tonga where she received her primary and secondary education. She studied at the University of Auckland (BA in Geography), Auckland … Continue reading A poet and a teacher from Tonga

Empowering adolescent girls in Tonga

Thirty-nine-year-old Vanessa Heleta has been a women’s rights activist in Tonga for more than a decade. As a young woman herself, she has made it her mission to empower adolescent girls through learning and awareness raising. Vanessa is the founder and Director of the Talitha Project, which runs a ‘drop-in centre’ for young women and girls in Tonga, providing security, counselling, training, income generation skills … Continue reading Empowering adolescent girls in Tonga

She fights for the LGBT community in the Pacific

As a transgender woman herself, Joey Joleen Mataele knows firsthand the struggles that the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersex (LGBTQI) communities face in her native Tonga and the greater Pacific region. As a singer and entertainer, she also understands the importance of oral culture and the role of song, humour and dance in Pacific cultures, which she has been using to elicit support … Continue reading She fights for the LGBT community in the Pacific

‘Utoikamanu is the highest ranking Pacific Island person at the UN

In April, Tonga’s Fekitamoeloa Katoa ‘Utoikamanu was appointed the United Nations’ High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States and Under Secretary General, making her the highest ranking Pacific Island person at the UN. Ms. ‘Utoikamanu has a wealth of national, regional and international experience in various senior leadership positions. Prior to her latest appointment, she was Chief … Continue reading ‘Utoikamanu is the highest ranking Pacific Island person at the UN

Meet Neta, a scientist from Tonga who united the Pacific islands against climate change

As the former director of the Climate Change Division at the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) for the past seven and a half years, Dr. Netatua Pelesikoti, or Neta as she is widely known, led Pacific Island efforts in tackling the single most pressing issue facing the region today. She brought over 20 years of experience in climate change, coastal management and … Continue reading Meet Neta, a scientist from Tonga who united the Pacific islands against climate change

Police loses 4 kg of marijuana in Tonga

According to the newspaper Matangi Tonga, the police of Tonga “lost” 3.8 kg of cannabis. The unusual accident was revealed at the trial of the owner of the confiscated cannabis on July the 27th. According to the newspaper, “The prosecutor told the court the exhibits had been lost during the refurbishment of the police station, when they were removed to the Longolongo Police Station.” The photos … Continue reading Police loses 4 kg of marijuana in Tonga

This film-maker changes Tongan society by telling its sad stories

Women’s rights activist and filmmaker ‘Ofa Guttenbeil-Likiliki believes in the power of story-telling, even when they’re not feel good stories. By daring to tell the harrowing stories of real life survivors of violence against women and girls (VAWG), she has made this pressing issue hard to ignore in her native Tonga and brought about change in the face of strident opposition. “When one chooses to … Continue reading This film-maker changes Tongan society by telling its sad stories

Fantastic creations by Tongan fashion designers

For the 2017 Miss Heilala Pageant, in Nuku’alofa, Tonga, the 16 aspiring beauty queens wore “unique island creations made from local materials, including coconut shells and fibre, dry and green coconut leaves, tapa cloth, fine woven mats, pandanus and shiny sea shells” explains Matangi Tonga Online, an information website covering the event. An account of the evening and a lot of pictures of the creations are available … Continue reading Fantastic creations by Tongan fashion designers