News Briefs: Rugby Union picks Peter Harding, Balwyn Fa’otusia continues with Finance



Nuku’alofa, Tonga

Compiled by Kalafi Moala


Peter Harding – a new CEO for Tonga Rugby

Peter Harding, New CEO for TRU

The Tonga Rugby Union has elected an Australian rugby administrator, Peter Harding, as the new CEO replacing acting CEO Fe’ao Vunipola who has been in the job since 2015.

There were 10 applicants for the job, including some from overseas, but Mr. Harding, who is no stranger to Tonga where he lives, was elected for the job. He was the advisor and coach for the Tongan team’s high performance in 2012. Since then, Mr.Harding decided to live in Tonga, and worked as a consultant to Tonga Rugby representing World Rugby. He was also contracted to work in high performance consultation with the Kenya Women’s Rugby for a period of three months. But he spent most of his time in Tonga, as “he likes living here.”

Mr. Harding will be CEO of Tonga Rugby for the next 4 years. It is reported by the Talaki Online that his first duties includes setting up of the TRU office, as well as working out the contracts of other workers with the Union, and recruiting a head coach for the national team.

Balwyn Fa’otusia – re-appointment as CEO of Finance and Planning

Balwyn Fa’otusia, CEO of Finance

One of the most experienced and highly educated economist in Tonga has been re-appointed as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Ministry of Finance and Planning. Mrs. Pilimilose Balwyn Fa’otusia of Ha’ateiho, Tongatapu was announced by the Public Service Commission (PSC) to continue as CEO of Finance for the next 4 years, effective from 4 January 2021.

Mrs. Fa’otusia was first appointed as CEO of the Ministry of Finance in 2017 where she has served until the end of her contract on 3 January 2021.

She has a BA in Economics and Management from USP, Fiji (1989), and an MA in Economic Studies (1996) from the University of Queensland, Australia.

Her career in the public service began in 1990 when she was appointed as a Project Economist for the then Central Planning Department, followed by senior positions in various Government Ministries including Principal Project Economist, Deputy Director of Planning, Deputy Secretary for Finance, Deputy Commissioner of Revenue and Deputy Chief Executive Officer for the Ministry of Finance and National Planning.

In November 2010, she was seconded to the World Bank, Washington DC, as an Adviser to the Executive Director for a duration of two (2) years. In January, 2015, Mrs. Fa’otusia was engaged by the European Union as an Advisor for two (2) years before her CEO appointment at the Ministry of Finance on 3 January 2017.

Mrs. Fa’otusia has sat on various professional committees including the Board of Directors for the National Reserve Bank of Tonga from April, 2013 to October, 2013 and during the four (4) year duration of her first appointment as CEO for the Ministry of Finance.

Two repatriation flights to arrive on 14 January

There are two repatriation flights planned to arrive in Tonga on 14 January. The first is from Auckland, New Zealand, and the second from Samoa.

A total of 280 passengers are expected to arrive in Tonga; 259 from Auckland, and 21 from Samoa. The flight from Auckland is a scheduled Air New Zealand flight according to MEIDECC CEO, Paula Ma’u; and from Samoa is a chartered flight using a Lulutai plane to repatriate passengers.

A chartered flight from Brisbane, Australia is also planned to arrive in Tonga on 22 January, to pick up 152 seasonal workers.

Meanwhile, Air New Zealand will operate its first quarantine-free flight from Auckland to Brisbane this week. This means that passengers on the flight will not be required quarantine on arrival in Brisbane. However, they are required to have been in New Zealand for 14 days before travel.

Air New Zealand currently operates five return flights per week between Auckland and Brisbane. Three of these flights will be quarantine-free, for people whose travel originates in New Zealand. The two quarantine flights are for people who do not meet the Safe Travel Zone criteria and required to quarantine on arrival in Australia.


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