She has served this country well, housing generations of Niue’s leaders for the past forty-three years. Today current and former lawmakers and staff who used to work at the old parliament building gathered to celebrate her for the final time.
Fale Fono was officially opened on the 19th of October 1977 by former New Zealand Prime Minister the late Sir Robert Muldoon in the presence of Niue’s first Premier Sir Robert Rex and the members of the Niue Assembly.
The words on the plaque located in the foyer of the Fale Fono, are barely legible more than forty years later but these halls of power have seen and heard the footsteps of six premiers, seven speakers in seventeen assemblies.
Today before striking the gavel (traditional nafa) at the Fono Ekepule Chambers for the final time at Fale Fono Speaker Hima Douglas paid tribute to those leaders who occupied the twenty seats in Chambers in years gone and those who work behind the scenes in the machinery of parliamentary processes.
“Honourable members I am fully aware of the task that I’m about to perform and I do so with a sense of humility, I do so with a sense of honour but with a tinge of sadness”.
“Let us take a moment to reflect on those who came before us, those people who sat in the very seats you occupy now, and those who work behind the scenes. Quite a lot of them are no longer with us. Let us remember them all. May they be our anchor for the past and our compass for the future”.
The original Fale Fono was a gift of the New Zealand government to the then very young government, at just three years old.
Warwick Keen and Associates were the architects of the iconic building and constructed by Colson Builders of New Zealand.
Premier Dalton Tagelagi told BCN News today that he had mixed feelings thinking about his ‘Pa’ Sir Robert Rex Senior, the first premier and his father the first Speaker of the Fono Ekepule, the late Hon. Sam Pata Tagelagi. Today during his premiership, they draw the curtains on 43 years of history at the original Fale Fono, Sialekula in central Alofi.
An emotional day but all good things must come to an end, the halls that used to host many cocktails, state visits of foreign dignitaries, and a few royal visits, Fale Fono has served Niue well. Whatever will happen to her is yet to be decided but Fale Fono will still be there, no longer the halls of power, but will always be that iconic reminder of the early days of Niue’s journey of nation-building.