Former ‘Ikale Tahi number eight and coach Tēvita Latailakepa’s favourite Bible scriptures were revealed this morning as hundreds gathered in mourning to farewell him in Fasimoeafi today.
They were St Paul’s Letter to the Phillipians, chapter 4, verse 13 and Psalm 121.
Phillipians 4:13 says: “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”
Psalm 121: 1-2 says:
“I look up to the mountains;
Does my strength come from mountains?
No, my strength comes from God,
Who made heaven, and earth, and mountains.”
Rev. Lōpini Filise, who described himself as a very close friend of Rev. Latailakepa, said Tevita had used these Biblical verses whenever they travelled overseas.
He said Rev Latailakepa’s personality, discipline and teaching skills reflected these scriptures.
He described Rev. Latailakepa as charming, easy-going and determined.
It is understood, Rev. Filise joined Rev. Latailakepa in his role as a tutor at Tupou College and to looking after the college’s rugby union team.
During Rev Latailakepa’s tenure as teacher and coach for the Tupou College 1st XV, the school regularly won the Inter-College Rugby Tournament Cup in the 1990s.
Rev. Latailakepa’s wife Sela described his cause of death as unexpected. He was admitted to hospital in recent weeks, but doctors said they could not save his life.
Rev Latailakepa died on Saturday, March 7 at Vaiola Hospital. He was 60.
The Fasi Moe Afi Free Wesleyan church, where Rev. Latailakepa was the minister, was packed with mourners this morning.
In reading his biography to the congregation, Sela said God has given her husband with many talents.
She said her husband not only captained the Tonga National Rugby Union Team but he also coached local rugby union teams including the Mailefihi College, Hango Agricultural College, Kolovai and Hihifo. These local teams became top and won trophies while Rev Latailakepa was their coach, Sela said.
She said Rev. Latailakepa was chosen, together with former rugby union player Rocky Fotu, in 1999 to join former All Blacks such as Ande Haden in a team which played at the World Rugby Classic in Bermuda.
He was elected chairman of the Tonga Rugby Union Board in 2011 to replace its Australian head, Bob Tucker, amidst turmoil in the organisation and a warning from the International Rugby Union.
Rev. Latailakepa was born on 9 February 1960 in Neiafu, Vava’u.
He is survived by his wife Sela and their four children.