Feleti Sevele

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Lord Sevele of Vailahi
14th Prime Minister of Tonga
In office
30 March 2006 22 December 2010
Acting: 11 February 2006 – 30 March 2006
Monarch Taufa'ahau Tupou IV
George Tupou V
Preceded by ʻAhoʻeitu ʻUnuakiʻotonga Tukuʻaho
Succeeded by Sialeʻataongo Tuʻivakanō
Personal details
Born (1944-07-07) 7 July 1944 (age 76) [1]
Ma’ufanga, Tonga
Spouse(s)Ainise Sevele
ChildrenMaliana, Frederick Stephen and Pisila
ParentsViliami Vaka'uta Sevele
Mele Yarnton
Alma mater University of Canterbury

Feleti Vakaʻuta Sevele, Lord Sevele of Vailahi (born 7 July 1944) was the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Tonga from 30 March 2006 to 22 December 2010.



Early life

Lord Sevele was born in Ma’ufanga, Nuku’alofa. He began his high school education at Apifoʻou College in Tonga, then went to school in Fiji at St John's College in Levuka on the island of Ovalau, and the Marist Brothers High School, Suva. He then attended St Bede's College in Christchurch, New Zealand, before going to the University of Canterbury where he graduated with a BSc degree in mathematics, and a BA, an MA [2] and a PhD degree in economic geography titled 'Regional inequalities in socio-economic development in Tonga' . [3] He was awarded an honorary doctorate in 2003. [4]


Upon returning to Tonga he was employed by the Tonga Commodities Board, then as chief economist for the South Pacific Commission, and as a councilor for the University of the South Pacific. He subsequently worked as Director of Catholic Education, a consultant, and businessman.

Sevele was first elected as one of nine People's Representatives to the Legislative Assembly or Fale Alea in the 1999 election and re-elected in subsequent elections. In March 2005 he was appointed to the Cabinet as Minister for Labour, Commerce and Industries, becoming one of the first two elected representatives to be appointed to Cabinet. As Minister he negotiated Tonga's becoming a member of the World Trade Organization in December 2005. In early 2006 he presented an Employment Relations Bill to Cabinet, based on the Fijian Bill of the same name, as a response to the public service strike of 2005.

Prime Minister

Sevele is the country's third non-noble Prime Minister after Shirley Waldemar Baker and Siosateki Tonga. He was appointed Acting Prime Minister after the sudden resignation of ʻAhoʻeitu ʻUnuakiʻotonga Tukuʻaho (at that time commonly known as: ʻUlukālala Lavaka Ata) on 11 February 2006, [5] six months after a series of pro-democracy protests that called for a lesser role in government for the royal family. Sevele's role was made permanent by King Tāufaʻāhau Tupou IV, when he appointed Dr Sevele as the Prime Minister of Tonga on 30 March 2006.

On 19 September 2007, Sevele was received by Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in Malacañang. He attended the Asian Development Bank's "Mobilizing Aid for Trade" conference (18 to 20 September). [6]

Following the resignation of Finance Minister Siosiua 'Utoikamanu, Sevele temporarily took over his portfolio on 26 February 2008 [7] until 'Otenifi Afu'alo Matoto was appointed as Finance Minister on 20 March. [8]

Sevele did not seek re-election at the 2010 elections. Following the completion of his term as Prime Minister he was created a Tongan life peer by King George Tupou V with the noble title of Lord Sevele of Vailahi. [9]

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  1. "Prime Minister – Hon Dr. Feleti Vakauta Sevele". Tongan Government. Archived from the original on 6 June 2009. Retrieved 7 April 2009.
  2. https://ipac.canterbury.ac.nz/ipac20/ipac.jsp?index=BIB&term=354795
  3. https://ipac.canterbury.ac.nz/ipac20/ipac.jsp?index=BIB&term=354915
  4. https://www.canterbury.ac.nz/alumni/our-alumni/uc-hon-docs/feleti-sevele/
  5. "Tonga gets first elected leader". BBC. 13 February 2006. Retrieved 31 March 2009.
  6. "Arroyo to host lunch for Tonga PM". GMA News. 18 September 2007. Retrieved 31 March 2009.
  7. "PM heads Finance Ministry". Matangi Tonga Online. 26 February 2008. Archived from the original on 27 May 2011.
  8. "King appoints new Finance Minister". Matangi Tonga Online. 20 March 2008. Archived from the original on 27 May 2011.
  9. "Former PM appointed Lord Sevele of Vailahi". Ministry of Information & Communications. 30 December 2010. Retrieved 21 July 2015.
Political offices
Preceded by
ʻAhoʻeitu ʻUnuakiʻotonga Tukuʻaho
Prime Minister of Tonga
Succeeded by
Sialeʻataongo Tuʻivakanō