Education icon and democratic activist Fīnau Tūtone dies aged 82

    He and his family were regarded as role model when in comes to education particularly teachings, parenting and discipline.

    Fīnau Tūtone

    Finau Tūtone, 82, has died in Tonga and his body is expected to arrive in New Zealand this week, his son Dr Viliami Tūtone has confirmed to Kaniva News this morning.

    All of his four children have university degrees and most of them are specialists in their various professions.

    Two of them were named duxes at Tonga High School, the school where top students from primary schools are taught.

    They are nephrologist Dr Viliami Tūtone, and physician Dr Siosaia Tūtone. Both are currently working as specialists in Middlemore Hospital, Counties Manukau in New Zealand.

    Finau’s daughter Senitila was dux at Teachers’ Training College, now known as Tonga Institute of Education (TIHE). She is now the principal of TIHE.

    His daughter ‘Ana Tūtone Tu’alau has a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in genetic.

    As a teacher at primary and secondary schools and also an education officer in the Ministry of Education, Finau believed there were special blessings for teachers if they did the job well and to their best and if they have neglected it, it would put a curse on them.

    He was instrumental in establishing Tonga teachers’ association known as The Friendly Islands Teachers’ Association (FITA). After he retired from teaching the association became a platform for his continued supports for teachers and giving advices on how to do the job well.

    “Talk with your children and allow them to speak independently so that you can listen to what their opinions are,” was one of the common advices associated with Finau.

    His teaching career began in 1958 after leaving Tupou College.

    While there was general consensus in Tonga that physical discipline and smacking were some of the best ways of disciplining children Finau believed otherwise.

    He said if a child at school or one of his own children misbehaved he just called them up and he stroke their hairs in a manner to persuade them to change their attitudes.

    Political career

    Finau was one of the six members of a group of Tongan students at the USP university in Fiji in 1976 who were known to be the first academics to formally meet and discuss a proposal to reform Tonga’s political structure.

    Late Prime Minister and Opposition Leader ‘Akilisi Pohiva told Kaniva News in an interview the group members were him (‘Akilisi Pohiva), Finau Tutone, Lōpeti Senituli, ‘Uhila Liava’a, Sione Ma’ilei and Tēvita Kolokihakaufisi.

    Pōhiva said they were interested in Tongan politics and wanted to pursue a proposal by former Minister of Education Late Dr Langikavaliku to the King’s Privy Council asking His Majesty to set up a commission to review the constitution so the government could be made more democratic.

    They returned to Tonga in the 1980s and the group continued supporting Pōhiva in his attempts to pursue their political agenda.

    In 2006 Late King George V agreed to relinquish his power to run the government to an elected-executive government. Tonga’s first democratic system of government came into fruition in 2010.


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