Tonga heads to the polls as a record number of women stand for election

Tongans will head to the polls today for their national election, with a record of 16 female candidates hoping to win a seat in parliament.

Voting will start at 9am local time when 169 polling stations open across the country.

It is only the second election the country has held since 2010 when voters were given the right to elect a majority of Legislative Assembly members.

A record number of women have also registered to vote in the poll. However, so far only four women have managed to get elected in Tonga since 1951.

2010 election photo

A woman votes in the 2010 Tongan election.

Women and Children Crisis Centre Director, Ofa Guttenbeil-Likiliki, said the odds were stacked against the female candidates.

“It’s going to be a really challenging hurdle… for all the women who have courageously put their hand up to run in this year’s elections,” she said.

Ms Guttenbeil-Likiliki said women in Tonga were often swayed by their husbands or partners when it came to decision making.

She said research showed more than 80 per cent of women in intimate partner relationships had to get the permission of a partner or husband before accessing health services.

“We’re struggling to get more women into parliament because of that strong belief that parliament is where men go and make decisions”, Women and Children Crisis Centre, Director, Ofa Guttenbeil-Likiliki.

“That speaks volumes as to how actually women would vote on the day,” she said.

A 2009 national study on domestic violence against women found a staggering 79 per cent of Tongan women had been the victims of sexual or physical violence.

“It’s quite a sad picture in the Pacific,” she said.

“Violence against women is unacceptably high in the Pacific, Tonga included, and women’s economic opportunities remain extremely limited in the Pacific.

“This is why we’re struggling to get more women into parliament because of that strong belief that parliament is not a house for women, instead it’s where men go in and make decisions.”

Ms Guttenbeil-Likiliki said the system needs to change.

“It always comes back to the pattern of voting and the behaviour of voters,” she said.

“It’s still very personalised in Tonga. Once we can move away from personalised votes into looking at what is the bigger picture, what is the vision, what is the mission, what are the policies?

“We need to go to a formalised party system. Once we do all that we can start seeing more women get into parliament.”

Strong voter turnout expected

Tonga’s Electoral Commission chairman, Barrie Sweetman, said more than 51,000 Tongans had registered to have their say in shaping the country’s next parliament.

“There’s a lot of excitement, of course, always leading up to the election with the candidates having their parades and festivities,” he said.

An average of six candidates are standing in each constituency and only 17 can be elected as the people’s representatives in parliament.

Another nine seats are voted on by the country’s nobility, to make a total of 26 seats in the parliament.

The Democratic Party is the only single party vying for all seats.

Mr Sweetman said he expected a close contest in many of the seats.

Many Tongans will also be voting for the first time.

Mr Sweetman said an education program has been in place over the last 12 months.

“I would say that the public is well educated now in what they have to do and how they go about voting,” he said.

“We’d just like them to turn up. Last time, in 2010, we had about a 91.5 per cent turnout. If we could beat that I’d be delighted.”

Tuku atu ‘e he Kominiueli ha Kulupu Vakai Tau’ataina ki he Fili Falealea ‘a e ‘Otu Solomone

Na’e fakaha ‘e he Sekelitali Seniale ‘a e Kominiueli , Kamalesh Sharma ‘e siofi ‘e he Kominiueli ‘a e Fili ‘a e ‘Otu Solomone ‘a ia ‘e fakahoko ‘i he ‘aho 19 ‘o Novema ,2014.


Na’e pehe ‘e Mr. Sharma , ko e Kulupu Vakai Tau’ataina ko eni mei he Kominiueli , ‘e taki atu ai ‘a Sir Mekere Morauta ko e Palemia fuoloa ‘o Papua Niukini. Ko hono ‘oatu ko eni ‘a e Kulupu ni makatu’unga mei he fakaafe mei he Komisiona Fili ‘a e ‘Otu Solomone.


“Ko e tangata’ifonua kotoa pe ‘o e Kominiueli ‘i mamani kau ai ‘a e ‘Otu Solomone , ‘oku ‘i ai ‘enau totonu kenau fili tau’ataina ‘o fakafuo mo fakafotunga ‘a e sosaieti ‘oku nau faka’amu kenau nofo ai. Ko e ‘aho 19 ‘o Novema ko e ‘aho ia ke fakahaa’i ai ‘e he toko taha Solomone kotoa pe ‘a ‘ene totonu ke fili tau’ataina mo melino foki,” ko e lau ia ‘a e Sekelitali Seniale.


“Ko e fili ni kuo pau ke ‘i he founga melino mo totonu koe’uhi ke ne fakahaa’i ‘a e loto totonu ‘o e kakai ‘o e ‘Otu Solomone. ‘A kinautolu kotoa ‘oku kaunga ki ai – ‘a e sino ‘oku ne pule’i ‘a e fili, kau taki ‘o e ngaahi paati fakapolitikale mo honau kau poupou, ngaahi kautaha le’o mo malu’i, ngaahi kautaha ongoongo, sosaieti sivile pea mo e kakai fili. ‘Oku totonu kenau taki taha fakahoko honau ngaahi fatongia totonu ‘i he ‘aho fili ke fakaha ‘e he founga mo e ola ‘a e mateuteu mo e falala ‘a e toko taha kotoa,” ko e fakaha ia ‘e Sharma.


‘E vakai ‘a e Kulupu ki he ‘atakai mo e ngaahi teuteu kotoa pe kimu’a he fili. ‘I he ‘aho fili mo e ‘osi ‘a e fili, te nau vakai ai ki he founga fakahoko ‘o e fili, lau ‘o e fili mo hono tanaki pehe ki hono fakaha ‘o e ola, ke taau mo e maama ‘o e ngaahi tu’unga fakavaha’apule’anga mo fakamamani lahi ‘o e fili fakatemokalati ‘a ia kuo tukupa ki ai e fonua.


‘I he fakahoko fatongia ‘a e Kulupu ni te nau tu’u tau’ataina ‘o ‘ikai kau ki ha fa’ahi pe paati pea muimui foki ki he ngaahi tu’utu’uni ‘a ia ‘oku ha ‘i he Tala Fakahaha Fakamamani lahi ki he Ngaahi Founga Ngaue ki he Vakai mo Siofi Tau’ataina ‘o e Fili ‘a ia ‘oku fakamo’oni ki ai ‘a e Kominiueli.


‘I he lava ‘enau ngaue, ‘e fakahu atu leva ‘e he Kulupu ‘enau lipooti ki he Sekelitali Seniale ‘o e Kominiueli ‘a ia tene toki tuku atu ‘e ia ki he Pule’anga Solomone, Komisiona Fili ‘a e ‘Otu Solomone, ngaahi paati fakapolitikale, ngaahi pule’anga ‘o e Kominiueli pea ki he kakai foki.


‘Oku ‘i Solomone ‘a e Kulupu mei he ‘aho 11 ki he ‘aho 29 ‘o Novema 2014. ‘E tokoni ki he Kulupu ha timi fakaSekelitali ‘a ia ‘e taki ai ‘a Albert Mariner, ko e ‘Ulu ia ‘o e Tafa’aki FakaPolitikale ‘o Kalipiane mo e Pasifiki.


“ Oku tukupa ‘a e Kominiueli ki he kakai ‘o e ‘Otu Solomone pea ‘e kei hokohoko atu ‘enau ngaue ke fakamalohi’i ‘a e ngaahi founga ngaue fakatemokalati pea mo e tulitulifua ki he’ene ngaahi kaveinga mo e taumu’a ngaue fakalakalaka ‘o fakatatau ki he ngaahi palani fakafonua pehe ki he ngaahi tefito’i tui mo e founga ngaue ‘a e Kominiueli ‘a ia ‘oku ha pe ia ‘i he Siate ‘a e Kominiueli, pea fengaue’aki fakataha foki mo e ngaahi hoa ngaue ‘o e fonua,” ko e fakamuimanoa ia ‘a e Sekelitali Seniale.


Ko e Kulupu Vakai Tau’ataina eni ‘a e Kominiueli ki he Fili ‘a Solomone;


Sea: Sir Mekere Morauta, Former Prime Minister, Papua New Guinea

  • Senator Linda Reynolds, Member of Parliament, Australia
  • David Lambourne, Legal Expert, Kiribati
  • Aiman Rasheed, Project Coordinator, Transparency Maldives, Maldives
  • John Hayes, Politician and Diplomat, New Zealand
  • Lydia Faisal, Lawyer and Human Rights Expert, Saint Lucia
  • Leiataualesa Daryl Clarke, Former Assistant Attorney General, Samoa
  • ‘Ofakilevuka Guttenbeil Likiliki, Gender Expert, Tonga
  • Jessica Babihuga Nkuuhe, Gender and Conflict Resolution Expert, Uganda
  • Vera Baird, Former General of England and Wales, United Kingdom.



16 women to contest Tonga election

A record 16 women are to contest next month’s elections in Tonga, up from 11 last time.

Nominations closed on Friday with the total number of candidates down considerably at 106 compared with 144 in 2010.


The director of the Women’s and Children’s Crisis Centre, Ofa Guttenbeil Likiliki, told Don Wiseman she is delighted with the courage shown by the women putting their names forward, but they had hoped for more.


OFA GUTTENBEIL LIKILIKI: Yes particularly in light of we just recently held a practice parliament for women so the assumption was that there would be a greater interest to actually stand for this year’s elections but unfortunately we haven’t got those numbers as we would have wished for. But I think the big highlight for me is Tongatapu One constituency which is probably the biggest challenge for any woman to take on. The People’s Number One representative MP Akilisi Pohiva has had that seat for almost 30 years and for the first time ever a woman is standing for the Tongatapu One constituency and we’ve got three women out of the eight candidates who have registered under that constituency, so you know, that’s a good sign. We’ve also had some surprises in the other constituencies in some of the outer islands’ constituencies so although we didn’t have as many female candidates as we would have wished for we are quite happy and content with those who have put their hand up and taken the huge step and courage to stand.


DON WISEMAN: How do you think they’ll go?

OGL: Well look it’s a huge challenge in terms of, there’s no discrimination in the electoral law so it’s very equal in terms of men and women standing as candidates. But the reality is you know, the attitudes and the behaviour of voters is that parliament is still a house for men, it’s a place where men make decisions. And that translates throughout everyday life, you know we don’t have any female town officers or female district officers. You know the numbers of women in statutory boards and private sector boards are very low in number. The highest decision making places across the civil sector are still largely dominated by men. In the confines of the family home it’s still considered that the father makes the final and last decision so you know in everyday life this is what we’re being told, this is how we’re living and so I’m quite sceptical of the outcome for the elections coming up, but at the same time I’m so proud of the women who’ve stood up and have taken the courage to take the challenge on. What I’m advocating for and other women’s rights groups are advocating for, is that come this election if we still don’t get any women into Parliament then we need to seriously take action and we need to address this with our government in terms of ‘what are the other approaches, what is the alternative?’ One of which is of course is the temporary special measures which I have advocated for years, so hopefully we do get women this coming election and if we don’t then we have to take some more dramatic measures.


Hoha’a WCCC ki he Ngaahi Tala Tu’utu’uni Tautea Ngaahi Hopo.




Hoha’a WCCC ki he Ngaahi Tala Tu’utu’uni Tautea Ngaahi Hopo.


[NUKU’ALOFA 10 NOVEMBER 2014] ‘Oku ‘i ai ‘a e hoha’a mo e tokanga ‘a e Women and Children Crisis Centre (WCCC) ki he ngaahi tala tu’utu’uni ‘o e ngaahi hopo ‘e ni’ihi tautautefito ki he ngaahi hia pa’usi’i fakalielia ‘o e fanau iiki mo e tohotoho ( hufanga he fakatapu ). Ko e ngaahi hia mamafa eni pea ‘oku makatu’unga mei ai ‘a e hoha’a ni.


‘I he Nusipepa Tonga Weekly ‘aho 31 ‘Okatopa peesi 2 na’e ha ai ‘a e ‘Ulu’i tohi ko eni “ Malu’i Angalelei Tamai ki he fanau ‘e toko 2 ki he angahala’i ‘o ha ta’u si’i .” Pea mo e Matangi Tonga Online Pulelulu ‘aho 5 ‘o Novema , na’e ha ai ‘a e ‘ulu’i tohi ko e lava ‘a e ngaue ‘a e konga ua ‘o e ngaue ‘a e Fakamaau’anga Tangi. ‘I he tu’utu’uni koeni na’e ha ai ‘a e tali ‘o e tangi fekau’aki mo e tokotaha na’a ne tohotoho’i ha ki’i fefine na’e ‘ikai fu’u kakato ‘ene tukunga fakakaukau. Na’e tali ‘a e tangi ‘o holoki mei he ta’u ‘e 10 ki he ta’u ‘e 5 kae toloi ‘ a e ta’u ‘e taha ‘i ha ta’u ‘e 2 kae ngaue’i pe ‘a e ta’u ‘e 4.


‘Oku pehe ‘e he Talekita ‘o e WCCC ‘Ofa Guttenbeil-Likiliki, “Oku faka’apa’apa’i pe ‘e he WCCC ‘a e ngaahi tu’utu’uni ni ka ko e hoha’a he ‘oku ngali fu’u si’isi’i ‘a e tautea fakatatau ki he hia. ‘E hanga ‘e he me’a ni ia ‘o faka’ai’ai e kakai fefine mo e fanau ‘oku hoko ki ai e faingata’a ni ke ‘oua ‘e toe omi ‘o lipooti he ‘oku hange ‘oku to’o ma’ama’a pe ‘a e tautea.”


Ko e taumu’a foki ‘o e tautea ke ne fakamanavahe’i mo fakateteki’i ha taha ‘oku fakakaukau ke ne fakahoko ha hia pehe ke tuku , he ko e me’a e ‘e iku ki ai. Ka ‘o kapau ko e anga e ‘o e tautea ke malu’i angalelei ‘a e ngaahi hia pehe, pea ‘oku ‘i ai ‘a e kole mo e faka’amu ‘a e Senitaa ki he kakai ‘o e fonua ke fai mai ha tokoni ketau fetakinima ‘o ngaue fakataha pea mou lea mai fekau’aki mo e kaveinga ni. He ‘oku fakatokanga’i ‘e he Senitaa ‘oku ‘alu pe taimi mo e fakautuutu mo e kaka ki ‘olunga ‘a e hia ki hono pa’usi’i fakalielia ‘o e longa’i fanau. Pea ‘oku totonu ketau tuku atu e fekau ki he kakai ‘o e fonua ‘oku ‘ikai ke tau tali ‘a e fa’ahinga to’onga ni ‘i he ngaahi tautea ‘oku tuku atu  mei he ngaahi hopo.




Ka to e fie ma’u ha fakamatala fekau’aki pea mo e me’a ni, kataki ‘o fetu’utaki hangatonu mai pe ki he ‘emau ‘Ofisi kia Lesila Lokotui To’ia ‘i he telefoni 22240.