By Tuifa’asisina Peter Rees
  Samoa and Tonga share a close and common bond that goes back hundreds of years. It used to be in the form of warfare. But the only war now is committed in the sports arena whenever Manu Samoa plays the Ikale Tahi.

The dawn of the 21st century now sees a friendlier bond with mutual respect enjoyed between the only remaining sovereign kingdom in Polynesia, and the first independent Pacific nation.

These ties are set to strengthen even more after the recent engagement of King Taufa'ahau Tupou IV's granddaughter, Hon. Titilupe Fanetupouvava’u Tuita to Papalii Malietau Sapatu-motu-pa Laupepa Malietoa, the grandson of Samoa’s Head of State Malietoa Tanumafili II.

A date has not yet been set for the wedding but the couple have been courting each other for several years since meeting as students attending Auckland University in the mid 1990’s.

When it happens, the wedding will be a special event on the Pacific Islands calendar. It will be a royal wedding of near celebrity status – the tall and handsome Samoan marrying the beautiful 27 year-old Tongan princess.

Papalii is the only son of the late Papali'i Milio'o Laupepa Malietoa, eldest son of Malietoa, and Aiono Sia. Princess Titilupe is the second eldest daughter of the King of Tonga’s only daughter, Her Royal Highness, Princess Salote Mafile’o Pilolevu Tuita.

Rumours of the couple tying the knot have been circulating for months and in early August, Papalii accompanied by family members and dressed in traditional attire, went to the Royal Palace in Nuku’alofa to seek King Taufa’ahau’s permission for Hon. Titilupe’s hand in marriage. Seeking the approval of the King is a must in Tongan tradition. It is known in Tonga as ma'u tohi.

His request was accepted and the official engagement proposal was in Auckland. The engagement was a grand affair held at the King of Tonga’s residence in Epsom (‘Atalanga) followed by a luncheon at the Grand Hotel. Among the attendees were the Maori Queen, Prime Minister of Samoa Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi, Samoa Deputy Prime Minister Misa Telefoni Retzlaff, Samoa’s Minister of Education Fiame Naomi Mataafa.

Papalii Malietau Sapatu-motu-pa Laupepa Malietoa, grandson of Samoa's Head of State Malietoa Tanumafili II, seen with Hon. Titilupe Fanetupouvava’u Tuita, granddaughter of the King of Tonga.
(Photo: Courtesy Lali Media / Taimi o Tonga)

Papalii accompanied by family members and dressed in traditional attire, walks to the Royal Palace in Nuku’alofa to seek King Taufa’ahau’s permission for Hon. Titilupe’s hand in marriage.
(Photo: Courtesy Lali Media / Taimi o Tonga)

A toast to his Highness by the King of Tonga, His Majesty King Taufa’ahau Tupou IV.
(Photo: Le Samoa Newspaper)

  Tonga’s Crown Prince Tupouto'a, the parents of the bride-to-be, Princess Pilolevu and Hon. Tuita, the King and Queen of Tonga, and other members of the royal family, as well as family members of the Samoa Head of State.

Papalii resides with his mother in Auckland where they have been since his father passed away in 1985. Hon. Titilupe was educated at Tonga High School in Nuku’alofa, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts from Auckland University before returning to Tonga to work in the Prime Minister’s office as Assistant Secretary of the Information Unit.

Inter-marriage between the Tongan royal family and high ranking Samoans is nothing new. Papalii’s first cousin, Alaileula Poutasi Jungblut, known officially as the Hon. Alaileula Tuku'aho, married the King of Tonga’s son, Hon. Ma'atu Fatafehi Alaivahamama’o Tuku’aho, who passed away last year. Hon. Alaileula Tuku'aho was by Papalii’s side when he went to Tonga to ask the King’s permission to marry Hon. Titilupe.

There is also a special significance between the royal family and the Malietoa clan. Many Samoans are familiar with the story of the end of Tonga’s occupation of Samoa some five centuries ago and the King of Tonga shouting the famous departing phrase “Malietoa Malietau” which in English means, “you fought brave, you fought well”.

It’s fitting then that the man soon to be married to the King of Tonga’s daughter, is named after this phrase.

Copyright Event Polynesia Ltd.


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