Concerns mount over SUTT name patent

A group of Tongan Free Wesleyan Church members in New Zealand have obtained the official right to be the only persons to make, use or sell the name SUTT.

SUTT is an acronym for the Siasi Uēsiliana Tauʻatāina ʻo Tonga, the Tongan translation for the Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga.   

The group, which are church members at the Free Wesleyan Church of Tuingapapai, in Mangere, Auckland included Sione Fono Latu, ‘Isileli Tonga and Siulolo Malamala, Kakalu 'o Tonga Newspaper reported.  

Lawyer Nalesoni Tupou who appeared for the group wrote on Facebook and confirmed to some concerned members the name SUTT has already been registered by a group of people.

“If one wants the name, he or she will have to ask the owner of the name to use the name. The name is the property of the people who have registered this name and nobody else,” Lawyer Tupou wrote.

The group endeavoured to reserve the name as it was left unpatented, meaning the church’s headquarter in Tonga has not attempted so far to claim patent for the name SUTT themselves.

The biggest Methodist denomination in Tonga is now registered in New Zealand as a trust board under the name Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga.

The Free Wesleyan Church’s pastor at Tuingapapai, Rev Lōpini Filise reportedly said they have talked to the group members about what they did regarding the name.

Rev Filise implied the SUTT Church is not interested in the matter.

“The name does not matter. It is the prayer that matter….the church’s name has already been registered but this group of people only wanted to reserve the right to it,” Rev Filise told the paper.

But the big question put forward by many was why the group spent money to acquire the patent for the name and not pushing for the SUTT church to do it as it is the owner of that property?

Would they be demanding money from the SUTT church in the future before giving the name back, a concerned member on Facebook asked.  

The move was strongly condemned by the Free Wesleyan Church lawyer in New Zealand, Mataitini Fotu.

Fotu expressed his fears that the people who have claimed the name, SUTT, would in the future tell the church to stop using it.

He reminded that the name was originally and traditionally known to belong to the SUTT church in Tonga and it should remain so.

 Fotu reportedly described the situation as “It would just like the proverb – dog in the manger”, meaning a person who stops other people from enjoying what he or she cannot use or does not want.  


Lawyer Tupou in his attempt to clarify the issue to a number of concerned members of the Siasi Uesiliana Tauʻatāina ʻo Tonga on Facebook wrote: (some punctuation marks edited by Kaniva News).

“Perhaps if I can be permitted to elaborate further this very interesting subject and the name known as Siasi Uesiliana Tau'ataina o Tonga also known as SUTT from hereon. In the mid 1970's here in Auckland and in the Tongan Community there was a trainee Church Minister of the SUTT from Tonga who was studying in the College for the Ministry.

"His name is Rev. Taniela Moala. Also here in Auckland during that era was another fascinating character Rev Sisosia Tuipulotu, who later helped to form the and be a Minister for the newly formed Uniting Church Of Tonga in NZ. Rev Taniela Moala was then appointed as the Faifekau for the Tongans who attended the Methodist church here in Auckland.

"Later the Setuata Lahi of the Tongans within the NZ Methodist his name was Kautau Lavulo. Mr Kautau Lavulo resign from his position as the Setuata Lahi and became the President of the breakaway group now known to be known as the Uniting Church of Tonga in NZ. However, there was another interesting character from Teekiu here in Auckland. His name was Mr Mateitalo Amato also known as Sefita Uia.

"He was the Setuata for the Otahuhu district in South Auckland. For many years Mateitalo Amato always put forward the idea that as he was baptised by his parents in Tonga to be a member of the SUTT he claims he is still a baptised member of the SUTT and not the NZ Methodist Church. But there was no SUTT here in NZ. Mateitalo raised that issue at the Quarterly Meeting in September 1982.

"There were strong words expressed by a lot of people at this meeting including people such as Mr Liuaki Saulala when he was still a member of this Congregation spoke emotionally about this subject. One community leader said that nobody and that means nobody will be able to register the name SUTT here in NZ and for matter here in NZ or the world.

"I can remember that vividly because that was when I was still a Law student in 1982 at Auckland University. I had learned that one can register such name and formulate a constitution into that named organisation. Welll..we'll..That is what happened I personally registered the name SUTT with the Registrar of incorporated Society part of the Justice Ministry here in Auckland.

"After obtaining the registered name I later gave it to Mateitalo Amato to formulate a Constitution with the help of his lawyer Mr Clive Edwards. That was how the name has travelled throughout the years until I recently earlier this year found out that the current church organisation situated at Tuingapapai was using the name known as Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga.

This means that the group purported to use the name SUTT was not in fact using the name SUTT? They were using the FWCT. They have discard the name SUTT into the rubbish bin. So that is what happened. I grab the name SUTT and assist other people who were very keen to keep the name. And they have registered the name to be their own property. That is intellectual property !!!Enough for now. Vahevahe atu ena pea liliu Kia nautolu ke tokonii…Maloo.."

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