Tributes flow as Capt Sam Tatafu is laid to rest in an emotional funeral

Members of His Majesty’s Armed Forces’ navy and military honoured Samuela Tatafu at an emotional funeral at Ma’ufanga yesterday.

Mourners gathered at the St Mary’s Cathedral to honour the man who was described as “he has an ambition to work for the nation.”

The 52-year-old former Navy Lieutenant Commander was reported missing at sea on April 23, after failing to arrive in Nuku’alofa at 10am after leaving ‘Eua at 6am.

Search and rescue team finally located Tatafu’s body on the beach area at Tu’aliku cliffs of Lapaha.

Samuela Tatafu. Photo/Facebook

The body of his colleague Litani Taufa was still missing.

Tatafu was first recruited into His Majesty’s Armed Forces in 1989 until 2000 when he retired and became a member of the military reserve force.

Since the sea accident, friends and family are sharing their thoughts and prayers for Tatafu and his family online.

A number of tributes have been sent via Facebook.

“This is just a small tribute to a man who lived larger than life- on, in and around the water. Sam tragically passed on Tuesday 23 April in a small boating accent during a rough sea passage from ‘Eua to Tongatapu,” the Tonga Heritage Society wrote on Facebook.

“I have known Sam for the best part of 35 years and send our sincerest condolences to his family.

“In 2010 Professor David Burley and I chartered Sam’s boat for a research expedition through the remote southern Ha’apai Islands looking for ancient rock art. Sam went out of his way to get us to the places we needed to go, we ate fresh fish and shared many a good laugh. He will be missed by all who knew him.

Rest in peace Sam.”

“Very sad sounds like a lovley (sic) man,” a commenter responded.

Tatafu was the owner of two businesses, the Ovava Tree lodge and Deep Blue Diving.

He is survived by his wife Ana Tu’ifanga Tukia Naufahu Tatafu with their five children. He had two other daughters from a previous relationship.


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