Prime Ministers Fellowship marks Tongan coronation

Friday 1 August 2008, 12:55AM
By Rt. Hon Helen Clark

A Fellowship to foster the leadership and governance skills of future generations of Tongan leaders will be New Zealand’s gift to mark the Coronation of King George Tupou V, Prime Minister Helen Clark announced during her visit to Tonga.

"The Prime Minister’s Tonga Coronation Fellowship will be awarded annually to a Tongan citizen. The award’s focus will be on developing leaders and potential leaders in the public and private sectors, including Members of Parliament, academia, business and the media," Helen Clark said.

"It is modelled on the Prime Minister’s Fellowship created for Samoa in 2005, and on existing schemes with Japan, South Korea, and Latin America.

"It is designed to reinforce and enhance understanding of the New Zealand-Tonga bilateral relationship, and create opportunities for dialogue and co-operation.

"Fellowship programmes will include the opportunity to travel within New Zealand, spend time with our country’s public service leaders, and participate in short study programmes at relevant New Zealand institutions," Helen Clark said.

The Fellowship selection process will involve the New Zealand High Commissioner in Tonga providing advice on potential candidates to the Prime Minister, who will make the final decision.

Helen Clark said that the presence of New Zealand’s Governor-General and Prime Minister at the coronation reflects the close ties between New Zealand and Tonga.

"Our two countries work closely on matters of regional importance, and many Tongan migrants have made positive contributions to New Zealand’s society and economy," Helen Clark said.

The estimated annual cost of the Fellowship is $12,000, to be funded jointly by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and the Visits and Ceremonial Office of the Department of Internal Affairs.


Tonga’s current Prime Minister, Hon Dr Feleti Sevele, was the first recipient of a scholarship established by New Zealand to mark the coronation of King George’s father in 1967. That scholarship has since been absorbed into broader NZAID programmes, and had a more academic focus than this Fellowship.