FORMER FIJI VICE PRESIDENT MADE TONGAN LORD

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Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi honored by King George Tupou V

NUKUALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, Jan. 4, 2011) – A Fijian artistocrat, Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi, today joined Tonga's Law Lords becoming Lord Madraiwiwi Tangatatonga, through a life peerage bestowed by Tonga's King George Tupou V.

In a brief closed ceremony at the Royal Palace in Nuku'alofa this morning Lord Madraiwiwi Tangatatonga was also awarded the honor of a Grand Gross of the Royal Order of Queen Salote. He becomes a Law Lord who advises the King on legal matters.

The other Law Lords are Lord Tevita Tupou, Lord Taniela Tufui, Lord Fielakepa and Lord Ramsay Dalgety.

Lord Madraiwiwi Tangatatonga told reporters that it was "great surprise" when he was informed that he was going to be given a Tongan noble title. "I am very proud."

His responsibility will be to give legal advice to the king and it can be carried out via e-mail, "but I will visit Tonga from time to time. We will also be responsible for the settlement of disputes over noble titles," he said.

A lawyer by profession and a former Vice President of Fiji, Lord Madraiwiwi Tangatatonga is currently engaged in the Solomon Islands as one of the two International Commissioners with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi was dismissed from office in December 2006 by the Military Commander, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, who seized power in a military coup. He was forcibly evicted from his official residence and from his office on the night of 6 December 2006.

Lord Madraiwiwi Tangatatonga said he has Tongan ancestors through his Lau connection, and he recalled an aunt and an uncle visiting Tonga and stayed with the father of the present Tu'ivakano.

Lord Tangatatonga is the Roko Tui of Bau, which is second in rank to the Turaga na Vunivalu ni Bau, the Paramount Chief of the Kubuna Confederacy, which belongs to the Tui Kaba clan.

Lord Madraiwiwi Tangatatonga is the son of the late Dr Ratu Dovi, a brother of the late Sir Ratu Lala Sukuna. Ratu Dovi and Ratu Lala Sukuna were sons of Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi who married Adi Litiana Maopa, the eldest daughter of the Tu'i Lau. The appointment of the holder of the Tu'i Lau title traditionally is a prerogative of the Tongan monarch.

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