Lord Tu'ilakepa (L) and Lord Ma'afu

A debate after a petition by Tonga College ex-students was tabled in Parliament has divided the king’s nobles, with Lord Ma’afu telling Lord Tu’ilakepa he was “ta’emahino” (misunderstanding).

Lord Ma’afu said he had been trying repeatedly to tell the noble the land about which the petition complained belonged to the government, but the noble appeared to ignore it.

Lord Ma’afu, who is also the Minister of Lands, Survey and Natural Resources, told Lord Tu’ilakepa to check the quarry on his estate, which he often talked about, and see whether it was still in use or had run out of rocks.

Lord Tu’ilakepa told Lord Ma’afu to stop being personal.  

“’Oua te ke fakafo’ituitui. ‘Oua te ke fakafo’utuitui,” Lord Tu’ilakepa warned in Tongan.  

The petition

The nobles’ row came after the petitioners complained that 15 acres of land at Tonga College, ‘Atele which the government recently leased to the Tonga Football Association should be returned to the college.

The petition was backed by most Noble MPs and the Independent MPs.  

Lord Ma’afu told parliament two weeks ago that the late King Tupou IV decided to lease part of Tonga College’s lands for the establishment of a Football Association centre in Tonga.

Lord Ma’afu said the size for the land the king wanted for the centre was big, but as far as he understood FIFA, which was funding the centre, could only afford 15 acres of the land.

He said the Football Association recently asked for more land and he had given them another 15 acres.

He said the petition was based on that additional 15 acres.

The noble said the Football Association was entitled to more land, but he thought that was enough.

He said the Football Association’s lease was legal and went through his Ministry’s procedures.

Against

The Niuas MP Vatau Hui, who was an ex-student of Tonga College and whose son is studying at the college, insisted that the Minister should return the additional 15 acres to the college.

He said the value of a child being taught at the college was more important than the benefits the Football Association could bring.

Lord Ma’afu asked the MP why they did not submit a petition when the University of the South Pacific and the Tonga Communication Corporations leased parts of the land.

Hon. Hui argued that the land being given to the Football Association was fertile and therefore important for the College’s agriculture.

Lord Ma’afu said about TP$4 million every year came through football and was being spent on young people.

He said Tonga College had 186 acres of land to use.

The main points

  • A debate after a petition by Tonga College ex-students was tabled in Parliament has divided the king’s nobles, with Lord Ma’afu telling Lord Tu’ilakepa he was “ta’emahino” (misunderstanding).
  • The nobles’ row came after the petitioners complained that 15 acres of land at Tonga College which the government recently leased to the Tonga Football Association should be returned to the college.

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