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Langi Kavaliku, 1939 – 2008 

COL extends its condolences to the people of Tonga and the family of Dr. S. Langi Kavaliku, who died in a traffic accident in Tonga in December 2008. Dr. Kavaliku was a respected scholar, former Deputy Prime Minister and long time Minister of Education in Tonga (over 30 years). He was a member of COL’s Board of Governors from 1992-98 and was named an Honorary Fellow of COL in 2002. Prime Minister Feleti Vaka-uta Sevele paid tribute to Dr. Kavaliku: “A brilliant and eminent scholar, an outstanding national leader, and the beloved friend of all, his passing away is deeply mourned by Tonga and afar.”

A tribute to Dr. the Hon. Hu’akavameiliku from Dr. the Hon. Feleti Vaka’uta Sevele

From the Office of the Prime Minister, Friday 12 December 2008:

The Passing away of Dr. the Hon. Senipisi Langi Kavaliku, the traditional title holder Dr. Hu’akavameiliku, is a national tragedy to the Government and the people of Tonga.

A brilliant and eminent scholar, an outstanding national leader, and the beloved friend of all, his passing away is deeply mourned by Tonga and afar.

In his record 34 years of holding multiple Ministerial positions and Deputy Prime Ministership, he was an outstanding and faithful public servant to His Majesty and His Government. His appointment last month by His Majesty King George V as Government Representative and Alternate Chair to the Constitutional and Electoral Commission is another example of his constant willingness to serve His Majesty and His Government. His passing away leaves a void which will be difficult to fill.

To us in Government and in the nation, Dr. Hu’akavameiliku was also a great colleague and a true friend. For my part, I first worked with him from 1973 for some 20 years as members of the National Scholarship Committee.

Dr. Kavaliku and I, with my fellow non-Government Education Directors, also worked together on devising a scheme of Government financial assistance to non-Government schools – which began in 1987 and has continued since.

From then up to his tragic passing away last week, I have continued to share and treasure his wisdom and support, which will always be remembered with the highest respect.

Our deepest sympathies go to his widow Mrs. Fuiva Kavaliku and their family. May the Almighty grant them solace at this time of sorrow.

Issued by: The PMO Website Bureau, Prime Minister's Office, P.O. Box 62, Nuku'alofa, Tonga.


Citation, upon being named an Honorary Fellow of COL, August 2002

S. Langi Kavaliku, former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Education, Civil Aviation and Works, Tonga and former member of the Board of Governors of the Commonwealth of Learning

Dr. Langi Kavaliku carries a giant-sized torch for two passions. The first is his enormous love of and for humanity and the second is the education of the people of the South Pacific, particularly. Who, but this gentle person with such a big heart – and his wife –would readily give their love and affection to their family of 38 children, 26 of them adopted.

As the Minister of Education of the Royal Kingdom of Tonga for 30 years, and Deputy Prime Minister for much of that time, he not only shaped the educational services of his country, but also helped influence the educational policies of the 11 other Commonwealth nations in the region with about six million people and hundreds of cultural and linguistic groups. Widely considered to be the most knowledgeable and respected person on matters of education, Langi Kavaliku’s voice resonated throughout the South Pacific. Through his involvement with UNESCO, Commonwealth and other international fora, he brought the world’s attention to the South Pacific and tirelessly appealed for the preservation of its values: the gentleness of the people, their pride in the diversity of their culture, art, language, history, tradition, as well as a sense of their destiny.

Anyone involved in the delivery of education in the South Pacific cannot but be interested in the use of distance education. Dr. Kavaliku is no exception. Through the use of the early satellites floating over the Pacific in the early 1970s, the University of the South Pacific connected its faculty and curriculum to students on almost all of the island nations of the region. Dr. Kavaliku, along with his other ministerial colleagues, shaped the policies that governed and nurtured this innovative approach to embrace the new concepts of distance education. Langi became a natural choice as the representative of the South Pacific Commonwealth nations on COL’s Board of Governors and served in that capacity for six years.. He was always a supportive, encouraging and at times a provocative and challenging board member. He continues to do so even today.

Having retired from public service at the end of 2000, he now serves the region as Chancellor of the USP. Under his leadership, the University continues to break new ground. Mr. Chairman, for his contribution to the welfare and education of the people of the South Pacific, and indeed the greater Commonwealth, and for his role in the development of COL, I request you to confer on Dr. Langi Kavaliku, the Honorary Fellow of the Commonwealth of Learning.