Tongan princess dies in Auckland, aged 75

Her Royal Highness Princess Mele Siuʻilikutapu Kalaniuvalu Fotofili has passed away in Auckland at age 75.

The oldest child of Prince Fatafehi Tuipelehake and his wife Melenaite Tupoumoheofo Veikune, Princess Siu’ilikutapu was born in May 1948. She was also the eldest granddaughter of Her Majesty, the late Queen Salote.

Princess Siu’ilikutapu pioneered the way for women in politics in Tonga by becoming the first elected female parliamentarian in Tonga from 1975 to 1977, 15 years after women’s suffrage.

Her son, Prince Kalaniuvalu Fotofili, followed in her footsteps and in 2021, was elected to the Legislative Assembly of Tonga. Her eldest son died suddenly in 2010, at the age of 37, also in Auckland.

She previously served as president of the Langafonua Gallery & Handicrafts Centre, a national organisation established by the late Queen Salote to empower Tongan women with traditional skills and talents.

She served as the Tonga Health Society Langimalie Clinic’s patron since 2018. Additionally, she served as the patron of Tonga’s first village council, the Lapaha Council.

The Consulate of the Kingdom of Tonga posted news of her death on social media, and said their “thoughts are with HM King Tupou VI, Queen Nanasipauʻū Tukuʻaho, and the Royal Family during this tough time”.