The calibre of female parliamentarians is impressive most of them were raised or came from families with a history of politicians and are now themselves a part of Niue political history as the highest ever number of female MPs accounting for 30 percent of the 18th Fono Ekepule.
Sonya Talagi is a university graduate and was the Director of Transport before she decided to become a politician. She is also the daughter of the former premier the late Sir Toke Talagi.
Ms Talagi told BCN News that taking the oath yesterday was an emotional experience for her. ““Evidently quite emotional, still a bit emotional now as you can see but a lot of mixed emotions including pride and privilege. It’s so humbling to be selected by the people and I look forward to serving the people of Niue and working with all of the members to achieve a prosperous Niue.”
She said that her father was with her yesterday because she wore one of his jackets and felt his presence as she took the oath.
Another new Common Roll member is lawyer Sinahemana Hekau who is the daughter of former MPs. Her late father Makamau Hekau is a former representative of Alofi South and her mother Maihetoe Hekau is a former Common Roll MP. Sina Hekau wants to use her skills as a lawyer to better the lives of Niueans and also to improve legal awareness of the population.
And the youngest MP of the Fono Ekepule is Rhonda Tiakia Tomailuga representative for Lakepa who was very happy and excited about the work ahead. “I am very happy that my village has chosen me, a young woman, the first to represent the village of Lakepa. It’s not to say that I can’t do the job or they are putting me on the judgement block but I am ready to take on this job and I am ready to take Lakepa forward and Niue forward.”
Returning to the Fono Ekepule after a three year hiatus is the MP for Mutalau Florence Maureen Melekitama who lost her seat in 2020 in a lot draw of the hat but reclaimed the confidence of the village last Saturday.
Mrs Melekitama is also from a family of former politicians, following the footsteps of her late father Don Vilitama who was one of the youngest MPs in his time and his father, Maureen’s grandfather the late Hafe Vilitama was also a former MP for Mutalau.
Returning unopposed to her seat as the representative of Tuapa is Hon. Esa Mona Ainuu who was first elected to the Fono Ekepule in 2017 and is now into her third term. In the last three years she was the Minister of Natural Resources.
The sixth woman MP in this Assembly is veteran politician and former diplomat Hon. O’love Tauveve Jacobsen, whose grandfather Viliko and her brother Okani Viliko were former MPs. The seasoned politician was nominated to contest the leadership yesterday and delivered an impressive concession speech noticed by many overseas based Niueans who were watching the live stream of the proceedings.
In her speech, Jacobsen said “Now that the government is formed, my attitude is that you will be supported by me and the others who will follow me. We will support that which is good, but that which does not comply with the laws, the rules of the Niue Assembly, we will say something about that. Be rest assured that we will keep an eye on you and your team and don’t think it’s going to be an easy three years.
“I have allowed these three years for you to show your true colours given that the last three years, the sickness around the world has spoilt your term in office. I expected the result I see today. I also expect good things to come from you and for that purpose I finish off by saying to you all fakaaue lahi.”
After the ceremony BCN News spoke with Premier Dalton Tagelagi who expressed his admiration for the women leaders of the country and the caliber of candidates wanting to be politicians and the elected female MPs. He told BCN News that he does not intend on staying long in the role of Premier because he also wants to spend time with his family.
Premier Tagelagi said that he is optimistic that soon Niue will see its first female Premier.