Tongan Prime Minister visits Law School

04 August 2016
Tongan PM visit - delegation
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The Prime Minister of Tonga, the Honourable Akilisi Pohiva, visited the Auckland Law School on 28 July.

The veteran democracy campaigner was accompanied by Lord Vaea (the Leader of the Opposition), ministers and other officials. They spent time discussing ways to encourage and support Pacific law students.

Distinguished Fellow of the Law School Sir Anand Satyanand introduced the members of the delegation, who were then formally welcomed by Dean of Law Professor Andrew Stockley.

During his introduction Sir Anand mentioned the similarities shared by Tonga and New Zealand, including both countries’ large number of islands and volcanoes, as well as our shared common heritage of being constitutional monarchies overlaid by democracy.

Sir Anand also talked about the need for modern states to maintain standards such as those relating to the separation of powers and transparency in government- and how the Auckland Law School was a place for learning those skills.

Many graduates of the Auckland Law School have returned to work in Tonga, such as Lord Justice Tupou of Kolofo’ou, Honourable William Clive Edwards and Laki Niu.

Tonga’s former Supreme Court Justice Dan Finnigan had also been a graduate of the Auckland Law School and the present Justice Charles Cato previously taught here. 

The Auckland Law School’s first Pasifika Lecturer Helena Kaho, Student Academic and Support Adviser Harry Toleafoa and Associate Professor Treasa Dunworth reported on the number of Pacific law students, their achievements and the ongoing development of the School’s Pacific profile.

Dr Bill Hodge thanked the Prime Minister for returning to the Auckland Law School, noting that he had talked to one of Dr Hodge’s classes many years ago when campaigning for a more democratic Tonga.

This was followed by a vigorous discussion about the legal and institutional needs of the Pacific such as legal drafting, judicial support, law harmonisation, and judicial education.

The Honourable Akilisi Pohiva is Tonga’s first democratically elected Prime Minister. Prior to this he served as the Minister for Health, a member of Parliament, and Chairman of the Select Committee for Investigating of the China Funds for the Reconstruction of the Nuku’alofa CBD.

Before entering politics, the Honourable Akilisi Pohiva taught history and sociology at the Tongan Campus of the University of the South Pacific.