The Tongan community in Auckland is mourning the death of Rev Sione Tavake Tupou.
Details surrounding the death of the 67-year-old were not immediately available to Kaniva News.
However a relative who did not want to be identified has confirmed that Rev Tupou passed on Saturday 16.
Rev Tupou was prominent in the Tongan Christian community in many respects but what was significantly stood out was when he strongly spoke out and opposed the appointment of a practicing homosexual into the Methodist leadership in New Zealand in 2012.
This was led to a breakaway of hundreds of Tongans from the mainstream Methodism and established a Methodist parish in Otahuhu known as Upper Room church under his leadership.
Rev Tupou also publicly spoke out on mainstream media against issues that linked to financial problems Pacific Island Christians had faced in what he described as it was because church leaders put their emphasis on raising money from them to build large churches.
Sēfita Haoʻuli, a Tongan broadcaster and journalist in New Zealand has shared with us a tribute for the death of his former Tonga High School classmate.
“Sad to note the passing of colleague and former Tonga High School classmate, the Rev Sione Tavake Tupou here in Auckland. Born in 1948, the son of Ane and Tevita Etueni Tupou of Pangai, Lifuka Haapai.
“Got to know him when I boarded with an aunt as a 5 year old to go to Pangai Primary and we were neighbours. His mother Ane was a soft-spoken woman who was considered unusual in that she never hit her children. She offered sanctuary to many of us when things got too hot at home or at school. Tavake and I entered THS in 1959 as the only two 10 year olds from our school who “made it”.
“His elder brothers, ‘Etueni and Paula were also at THS at the time. We both came to Auckland as scholarship students and spent the late 60s and early 70s here in New Zealand where he took up an apprenticeship and became an electrician.
“He learned his craft when the government of the time were building the state houses of Otara and Mangere. He had his father’s musical talents and was the most accomplished guitar player at Atalanga hostel at the time. He also took money off most of us at poker only to give it all back as he was earning while learning his craft.
“Latterly, he led a breakaway ministry from mainstream Methodism and established a parish in Otahuhu and is survived by his widow Heu. Fellow 1959ers who will mark his passing will include lawyer Laki Niu, broadcaster Kalafi Moala, theologian Viliami Fukofuka in Tonga.
“In Auckland are retired sea captain Kepueli Funaki, travel agent, Totoa Laume and mechanical enginner, Sione Fakalata. Looking at a 1963 class photo and sadly more than half of the 1959ers are no longer with us”.