A group of Tongan women enjoyed welcoming feasts and entertaining activities in Kelston, Auckland on September 8 – 11 to formally mark the 43 anniversary of the first ever women to join the Tonga police force in September 8, 1970.
Eight female pioneers who first recruited to the force were Fapiola Matāpule, Loukinikini ‘Ahio, Heleine Tu’ihalamaka, Paea Kalavi, Ane Kinahoi, Saane Inukiha’ananga, Simaima Halapua Finau and Mele Ma’afu Halapua.
All eight still alive and well but only some of them were able to attend the reunion.
Fapiola Matāpule remembered the time when they first joined Recruitment Four at the Tonga Police academy.
“It was challenging but rewarding you know we were equally trained with the boys in everything like physical activities that were needed for us to fulfill. And I remember there was always rival between us women and the men especially when it came to exam times because you know the men always think they can do better than us in police,” Matāpule told Kaniva News.
The three days reunion which began with a prayer service at the Domion Methodist Church was the first ever formal occasion for the former police women to meet and reminisced about their past.
Matāpule said she resigned from the force after 16 years of employment and relocated with her family to New Zealand in 1986.
She said others worked until they were pensioned off including Mele Maʻafu Halapua and Simaima Halapua Finau who had the chance of holding the post of police inspector.
The group decided to meet in Tonga next year to celebrate the 44 anniversary.
Matāpule said the reunion is expected to be returned to Auckland in 2015 when they will celebrate their 45 anniversary.
Other ex-women officers who joined the reunion from Tonga were Heleine Tu’ihalamaka, ‘Ileiana Taulua, Teti Leha’uli Kava, Mafi Taulahi, Toa Fifita, Milise Fakakovi, Veuki Lavemai Teisina and Hakalo
The police-women who are currently in the force were represented in the reunion by Folola Halahingano Vaikona and Sokopeti Faletau.
The Group Officials – President: Simaima Halapua Finau, Treasurer: Fapiola Matāpule, Secretary: Saunaleva Halaifonua Hēhēpoto and the campaigner (angi) is Tupou Lyden.