Pastor Tavake Tupou laid to rest, Tonga’s Prime Minister attends services

Friends, family and Christian followers of Rev Sione Tavake Tupou bid him farewell at an open family funeral service Saturday 23, House of Grace, Upper Room, Otahuhu.

Hundreds of mourners also attended his funeral service before he was escorted to his final resting place at the Manukau Memorial Garden in South Auckland.

Tonga’s Prime Minister ʻAkilisi Pohiva attended his wake on Friday night at Rev Tupou’s church building at 31 Huia Rd.

Hon Pohiva and the Tongan Consulate at ‘Atalanga Mr. Stafford ‘Aho were warmly welcomed at the ceremony by Rev Tupou’s wife Heukuoa’u Tupou.

Princess Mele Siu’ilikutapu also attended the funeral services.

Rev Tupou’s death on January 16 was not only deeply felt by the Tongan community but by the New Zealand wider community as well.

READ MORE: Prominent Tongan pastor dies in Auckland

“Dear Tupou family,you probably don’t know us, but please accept our deepest sympathy at the passing of Tavake. We didn’t know he was suffering until very recently, so his passing comes with great shock and sadness”,  a tribute made on NZ Herald’s Memories and Condolence page  by David and Rebecca Cheeseman of Christchurch.

“I knew Tavake as a fellow student at the Bible College of NZ. He was a lovely Christian man, unafraid to stand for Biblical truth, and loyal to his Lord and Saviour. He will be sorely missed by you as his loving family, and no doubt by the Tongan people in his church and wider community,” the Cheesemans wrote.

PM Pohiva
Tonga’s Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva attends Rev Tupou’s wake service. Photo/Courtesy of John Nicholas Pulu

Another tribute on Herald read: ““Dear Heu, Judith, John and extended family……my heart is with you on the death of your precious husband and father. Tavake was an incredible man of God for whom I had such great respect. My time working with him at St. Stephen’s was a joy and privilege. May his primary message of God’s grace endure in your lives and keep you in the days, weeks and months ahead. With love, Vicki Morris”

Debbie Sorensen, chief executive of the Pasifika Medical Association  in a statement from the organisation said: “Rev Tupou has given so much to the Tongan community in New Zealand and in his role as a Minister and a church leader. He took care of so many families. He was a pioneer in the Tongan community.”

“On behalf of the Pasifika Medical Association (PMA) and its many members in New Zealand and the Pacific region, we wish to extend our sincere condolences to Rev Tupou’s wife, Hekuo’au and children and extended families during this difficult time of mourning,”  Sorensen said.

Rev. Tupou was born on 02-08-1948 and passed away on 16-01-2016. He was the first Pacific Islander to be appointed president of the Methodist Church in New Zealand in 1996.

All his funeral services were held at his church, the House of Grace , Upper Room,  31 Huia Rd, Otahuhu.

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