Former Common Roll member of the Fono Ekepule Poni Kapaga passed away at his home at Tuapa Uhomotu this morning. He was 76 years old.
Poni Kapaga served in the 8th and 9th Niue Legislative Assembly, elected in 1993 and again in 1996, serving 6 years until 1999.
His funeral service was held this afternoon at the Apostolic Church in Alofi where he served as Pastor for many years.
After the funeral service, the procession of cars followed the family and casket to his village of Tuapa for the burial and what many were expecting, as is the convention at the funerals of former or current members of parliament that the Niue Police will perform the gun salute.
However, embarrassingly for Premier Dalton Tagelagi, the Niue Police were not present. The flag was removed from the top of the casket by a family member and another Pastor, folded, and handed to Premier Tagelagi to present to Mrs Liliani Kapaga.
Witnesses told BCN News that Premier Dalton Tagelagi was visibly disappointed at the absence of the Police.
The Chief of Police Tim Wilson is on leave in New Zealand with his church youth group but it was unclear where the other Police officers were.
Despite the heavy rain, people gathered to pay their final respects to a man widely known in the fishing community and endeared to many for his jokes and his laughter.
Last year, while in New Zealand on medical referral the family was delivered the tragic news that he had cancer. It was his wish to return home and when he did, he went back fishing.
He was also a businessman running a bus company for many years, a business he passed on to one of his children.
From Jan 2009 to July 2014 he was the Chairperson of the Public Service Commission.
One of his colleagues in the Fono Ekepule Olove Jacobsen told BCN News that she worked with Poni Kapaga in the Bills Committee and she recalls fondly those times. Jacobsen extended her condolences to Mrs. Lili Kapaga and the Kapaga family.
Pastor Poni Kapaga is survived by his wife Lili, their 7 children, many grandchildren, and the extended family.
BCN News extends our condolences to Mrs Lili Kapaga and the family on your loss. Pastor Kapaga is an avid rugby fan and was a regular at BCN always asking for the rugby games and never leaving without cracking a joke, he will be missed.