At the closing of yesterday’s opening ceremony Speaker Hima Douglas looked around the Chambers and saw the many descendants of former leaders and former members of the Island Council before the birth of the Fono Ekepule in 1974.
He told BCN News that he looked down at his prepared speech but all he could see were the faces of those old members so he decided to forego his speech and instead paid tribute to the leaders of days gone.
“I felt it was important because as time goes by we tend to focus too much on just the present. We don’t have an opportunity to reflect on what came before us.
It’s far too easy, sometimes, in our quest to deal with the current problems that we are facing. Sometimes we tend to forget that we are here because of all those old folks that came before us”, reflected the Speaker.
As he mentioned some of the former leaders, with the offsprings of two former premier’s before him and the grandchildren of some of the original members of the Island Council, the crowd inside Chambers who were minutes earlier clapping in admiration of the women MPs were now silent and in emotional reflection as they listened to the Speaker call out the names of some of the past leaders.
“I thought okay but I didn’t quite realise just how emotional that was going to be, because I took it right back. Fortunately I can remember the old folks in the days of the island council. Without those folks we wouldn’t be here.”
Afterward in an interview with BCN News, Hima Douglas said that of course he didn’t mention all the names, he missed out a few but it was important to remember them. He reflected on the ancestors of the Island Council who he recalled the disparaging comments leveled against those folks back in those days, with people saying that they were only there to earn their tin of bully beef.
It was though a fitting end to the ceremony as reflected by the MP for Hikutavake Ian Hipa who said that when he heard his name called out to take the oath, he thought of his parents, and wished that they were still here to witness this most important day for him.
His father, the late Dr. Dick Hipa was one of Niue’s first doctors and later in his career became a politician along with his brother the late Morris Tafatu. Ian Hipa also thought of his brother Richard Hipa who topped the Common Roll in 2020 but has since relocated to New Zealand because of his health.
For many of the members of the 18th Niue Assembly they remembered their elders who served before them, some were only paid with a tin of bully beef.