The king of Tonga named the Tuingapapai church’s new multi-million hall this morning the Lesieli Tonga auditorium.
His Majesty King Tupou VI opened the NZ$7 million building in Favona Rd, Māngere, South Auckland.
The hall was consecrated by the Free Wesleyan Church’s president Rev. Dr ‘Ahio.
The late Lesieli Tonga adopted the late Queen Sālote Tupou III after her mother, Queen Lavinia, died in 1902 when Sālote was two years-old.
His Majesty said his grandfather, the late Prince Tungi Mailefihi, Queen Sālote’s husband, once said the exceptional domestic work Lesieli did should be remembered.
Foreigners who came to Tonga in the early 20th century marvelled because they could see western etiquette and civilisation reflected in Lesieli’s domestic chores, the king said in front of hundreds who gathered at the opening event.
The king said Queen Sālote repeatedly mentioned Lesieli as her first teacher who taught her important lessons including linguistic and behavioural etiquette.
He said the Queen “confirmed” the majority of her success as Queen of Tonga was because of the good things Lesieli had taught her.
Queen Sālote is regarded as one of the most respected and successful Tongan monarchs.
Her work in Tongan music and composition as well as dancing were unique and still popular with today’s scholars and generation.
Michael O’Sullivan from Bull O’Sullivan Architecture in Auckland told His Majesty the auditorium was “seven years in the making”.
He said the duration was normal on big buildings like this, but for the auditorium it was not.
Sullivan said this was because many church buildings in the past were constructed with the help of the church community.
However, today’s construction environment meant everything must be done by contracted companies, which was time consuming and costly, Sullivan said.
The church’s treasurer Rev Filipe Sāmate read out a financial summary of the costs of the building and said the auditorium was 46 metres in length 46 metres in width with a height of 11 metres.
The cost for the building alone was NZ$6, 885, 415.11 with goods and service taxes (GST) making it a total of NZ $7,589,977.98, he said.
Rev Sāmate said the church could claim the GST charges.
The auditorium was designed with eight offices for the church and there is an indoor sporting facility.
It can hold large scale cultural activities and was open to any church or ethnic group at a very cheap price, he said.
The church had paid off all goods purchased on credit, including services offered by outside providers.
The President of the church, Rev. Dr ‘Ahio, consecrated the auditorium and thanked the congregation for setting a special ‘afio’anga (seat) at the auditorium for the king.
The programme began with a prayer service followed by a taumafa (lunch) and entertainments before the king left.
The main points
- The king of Tonga named the Tuingapapai church’s new multi-million hall this morning as the Lesieli Tonga auditorium.
- Lesieli Tonga adopted the late Queen Sālote Tupou III after her mother died while she was young.
- His Majesty King Tupou VI said his grandfather, the late Prince Tungi Mailefihi, Queen Sālote’s husband, once said the domestic work Lesieli did should be remembered.
- The king said Queen Sālote repeatedly mentioned Lesieli as her first teacher who taught her important lessons including linguistic and behavioural etiquette.