Royal Oceania Institute Board

About us

The Royal Oceania Institute (ROI) is a new, independent, Tongan think tank. ROI’s goals are to support and pursue Pacific-centered, ethical, fact-based research and analysis. It will also facilitate open dialogue on topics relevant to community, sustainable development, and regional relations.

ROI grew out of an identifiable need for a non-partisan, permanent, accessible and reputable platform for building confidence and cooperation, and encouraging broad information sharing and understanding. One of the many advantages of this approach is that through better research and open dialogue, investments in development have a better chance of reaching their full potential for the benefit of all involved.

ROI will stringently pursue a policy of independence. Funding will not influence the direction, integrity or quality of its research. We are deeply committed to ROI’s vision for a resilient, prosperous, secure and independent Tonga in a strong, prosperous and secure Pacific.


Board Members

Lord Fakafanua, Chairman

Lord Fakafanua embarked early on his political career. At age 24 he became one of the youngest Members of Parliament in Tongan history. At age 27, Lord Fakafanua assumed the role of Speaker of Parliament as the youngest ever elected by parliament to that office in Tonga and, at the time, the youngest Speaker in the world. Over the course of his political career, Lord Fakafanua has been engaged with monumental changes in the Tongan Parliament, including presiding over major political reform, and passionately advocating for greater representation for women in Parliament. During his term as Speaker, Lord Fakafanua sat on the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Executive (CPA – EXCO) as a representative of Australasia, and entered the Tongan Parliament into the Inter Parliamentary Union (IPU) as the 164th member. In 2014 Lord Fakafanua took a break from politics to pursue further studies at the University of the South Pacific, Fiji and recently completed a Master of Arts in Diplomacy, Law and Business at the O.P. Jindal Global University, India. Lord Fakafanua has since resumed his role as the incumbent Speaker of Parliament after successfully getting re-elected in the November 2017 general elections.


Her Royal Highness Princess Mele Siu’ilikutapu

Her Royal Highness, Princess Siu’ilikutapu is the eldest granddaughter of Her Majesty, the late Queen Salote. Princess Siu’ilikutapu was the first elected female parliamentarian in 1975-1977 in Tonga after fifteen years of women’s suffrage, and therefore paved the way for women in politics. She was previously the President of Langafonua Gallery & Handicrafts Centre a national organisation founded by the Late Queen Salote to empower Tongan women with traditional skills and talents. Since 2018, she has been Patron of the Board of the Tonga Health Society Langimalie Clinic. She is also the Patron of the Lapaha Council, which is the first village council of Tonga. She is a board member of the Pasifika Laidlaw Bible College in Auckland, New Zealand. Amongst her many other responsibilities, she is a cultural authority for the Pacific Collection Access Project at the Auckland Museum.


His Eminence, Cardinal Mafi

Cardinal Mafi studied for priesthood at the Pacific Regional Seminary in Suva, Fiji. He was ordained a priest in 1991 at the age of 29. He spent four years in parish work in Ha’apai, Tonga. In 1995 Bishop Foliaki appointed him Vicar-General of the diocese at the age of 34. He spent three years studying religious education at Loyola University, Baltimore, Maryland, graduating in 2000. He was then stationed for six years in Suva (Fiji), engaged in the formation training of local priests. He spent four years in parish work in Ha’apai, Tonga. Cardinal Mafi was appointed consecrated bishop in 2007. When he succeeded Bishop Soane Lilo Foliaki as Bishop of Tonga on 18 April 2008, he became the first diocesan priest to be bishop of the diocese of Tonga. He participated in the Third Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization held on October 2014. Cardinal Mafi has been president of the Episcopal Conference of the Pacific since 2010. On 14 February 2015, Pope Francis appointed Cardinal Mafi a cardinal with the title of Cardinal-Priest of Santa Paola Romana. On 13 April 2015, he was appointed a member of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum for Human and Christian Development.


Dr ‘Ana Taufe’ulungaki

‘Ana has been a teacher for more than 50 years. She worked for more than 30 years at the Ministry of Education in Tonga, before taking up an academic career at the University of the South Pacific, Laucala Campus, Suva. When she returned to Tonga at the end of 2007, she was at the time Pro Vice Chancellor for Research and Post-Graduate Affairs. She was also Director of the Institute of Education of the University, which is the University’s outreach arm to the Pacific region on research and educational matters, for two separate periods. Over the years, she has been involved in various educational development work, consultancies, research projects, and authored many articles, particularly in relation to language issues, literacy, gender, and culture. Throughout her career she has been passionate about the critical importance of promoting and sustaining Tonga’s language, culture, and traditional heritages. She is currently Dean of the School of Education at Christ’s University in the Pacific, where she is unapologetically involved in the training of Christian teachers for Tonga and the promotion of the Christian Education Framework “Ko e ‘Otua mo Tonga ko Hoku Tofiʻa”, as the way forward for education in Tonga.


Joyce Mafi

Joyce Mafi was Governor of the National Reserve Bank of Tonga for 10 years until July 2013. Before joining the Reserve Bank in 1993, she was an Economist for the Tonga Ministry of Finance. She is a part time Chairperson of the Remuneration Authority of Tonga and a private consultant. Joyce holds a Bachelor of Commerce from Otago University, New Zealand, and a Master of Economics from the University of Queensland, Australia.


Dr Kaitu’u Funaki

Kaitu’u ‘i Pangai Funaki holds an MBA, and a PhD in Asia Pacific Studies from Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University (Japan). His interdisciplinary research covers theoretical approaches from anthropology, economics and psychology in addition to his field as a Political Scientist. His scholarship explores how Oceania’s cultural value of reciprocity and generosity can contribute to sustainable solutions for the global challenges we face today. His research proposed the new vision of Gross National Generosity (GNG), a sustainable development framework designed to articulate what ODA receiving countries could contribute to the SDGs from what they possess, and at the same time preserve these global resources for future generations. In 2018, Dr. Funaki founded the Dignified Pacific Initiative (DPI) and in 2019, he co-founded The Eden Seminars to further explore this potential, promote research, and encourage adoption of solutions identified for the betterment of society overall. For two decades with experiences in Asia, Dr. Funaki developed a strong network of contacts around the globe, including contacts in academia, business, and government ministries and diplomatic posts.


Minoru Nishi

Minoru Nishi Jr is the Managing Director of Nishi Trading Co. Ltd in Tonga, a company that has been commercially farming exporting and importing fresh fruit and vegetables for over 40 years. Since Minoru Jr joined the family run company, it has diversified its operations to the Nishi Quarry and manufacturing plant (2002), an Agri-Store (2005) and the Nishi Foundation. Minoru Jr is also responsible for building a HACCP certified pack house in Tonga (2014) and the first pack house to be certified with SCHS (Sea Container Hygiene System) in the Pacific. The Nishi foundation is a charitable arm of Nishi Trading and has successfully implemented a TNQB approved Horticultural Certificate Course Level 2, a healthy eating educational program (Mai e Nima) and many research projects with development partners such and Tokyo University of Agriculture, University of the Sunshine Coast, Brother International, ACIAR and CSIRO. Minoru has also had extensive experience on boards of regional bodies such as PIFON and PHARMA PLUS (MAWG), and local boards such as MORDI, Tonga Development Bank and Tonga Post.


Magistrate Loupua Pahulu-Kuli

Senior Magistrate in the Magistrate Courts of Tonga. Holds a Masters in Law with professional diplomas in Legal Drafting and Legal Practice. In her pursuit of a Bachelors in Law (L.L.B), she was honoured as the Valedictorian for 2010 at the University of the South Pacific (USP), Emalaus graduands and a Gold Medalist Awardee for Best USP All Round Female Graduate. She has vast experience and in-depth knowledge of Tongaʻs legal system as former translator, transcriber, interpreter, tutor, researcher, legal drafter and adviser, and as a consultant. She has been trained locally and internationally on various subject matters including, but not limited to, budget analysis, fundamentals of judging, crime prevention, leadership and time management, and other legal matters. Her working experiences extend to government ministries, Parliament, the United Nations Development Programme, and the community at large offering pro bono basis services at times. She has published work on juvenile offenders, land systems of Tonga, and womenʻs rights to land in Tonga. As the President of the Tonga Law Society, a hectic schedule is an understatement. She is friendly and approachable, enjoys helping people who are less fortunate, and spending time with family. She is happily married to Maʻafu and is the mother of two wonderful children.


Sione Taumoefolau

Sione is the Secretary General to the Red Cross since 2000. As the Secretary General of Tonga Red Cross Society (TRCS), he has invested substantial endeavors in improving operational capacity as well as effectiveness and efficiency of service delivery in four core programme areas – promotion of Fundamental Principles and humanitarian values, disaster response, disaster preparedness and health and care in the community, all of which are described in Strategy 2010. He is a Board of Director for Civil Society Forum of Tonga and Treasurer since 2003, and is member of the National Emergency Management Office (NEMO) since 2000 National disaster management at Ministry of Meteorology, Energy, Information, Disaster Management, Environment, Climate Change, Communications, and CERT/E-Government.


Viola Ulakai

Mrs. Viola Ulakai, has been working for Tonga Broadcasting Commission (TBC) as a Journalist by profession for 30-years. She was recently appointed to her new role as the Chief Executive Officer of TBC. Amongst her many responsibilities, she is also a Director of the Executive Board of the Pacific Islands News Association (PINA), a member of TASANOC’s Executive Board of Directors, a Treasurer of the Fasi mo e Afi Town Council and Vice President of the Board of Directors – Tonga Netball Association. Mrs. Ulakai is also a former Lecturer of the Tonga Institute of Higher Education and Community Development and Community Centre (TIHE). Mrs. Ulakai joined the Office of the Minister for Finance as a Media Consultant, in the Reform Information Office. She was seconded from Tonga Broadcasting Commission at the beginning of the Revenue Reform in February 2005. With her extensive experience as a broadcast journalist, her role was crucial for the accelerated public education for the implementation of the first stage of the Revenue Reforms. Mrs. Ulakai in 2006 became a media person for the National Committee for Political Reform chaired by the late HRH Tu’ipelehake, as the terms of reference of the Finance Minister’s Reform Information Office had broadened to include its political and public consultations. She went to the Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IMMC – New Delhi) for her further studies in Development Journalism.


Tevita Motulalo,

Veteran journalist, academic and analyst, Mr. Tevita Motulalo is a non-resident Senior Researcher at Gateway House (the Indian Council on Global Relations) in Mumbai, where he specializes in Pacific geopolitics and security, as well as being a 2015-2016 Pacific Island Society (USA) Security Scholar. Mr. Motulalo received his MSc in Geopolitics and International Relations from Manipal University.


Core Team

Eunji Lee,

Director of Research

Eunji Lee has an international background in public, private and non-profit sectors. She studied International Relations (BSc) at the London School of Economics and Political Science (MA) at the University of Paris II Pantheon-Assas. She started building experience in policy research at the Business & Industry Advisory Committee to OECD in Paris and in diplomacy at the United Nations Institute for Training and Research in Geneva. She also helped to set up the Korean Consulate in Melbourne, Australia; worked as an Analyst in business consulting focussing on the Middle East and Africa and worked in environmental campaign and project coordination in South Korea. Her volunteer experiences include Amnesty International, Red Cross and NGO work in Jordan. Most recently she was a Research Assistant at the Sultan Qaboos University in Oman working on developing Oman’s tourism and SMEs. 

With diverse country experiences, Eunji is a South Korean from Tonga with deep interests in the development and future projects for the Kingdom. Eunji speaks fluent English, Korean, advanced in French and with a working knowledge of Arabic and Tongan.

Fane Fakafanua,

Director of Operations

Fane has over 12 years of local and international work experience, with an emphasis on Organizational Development. Her education in Tonga, Australia, UK and India has allowed her to acquire a wealth of international exposure from an early age. Fane contributed to the strengthening of Tonga-Japan relations, for several years, during her role as Private Secretary to the Japanese Ambassador to Tonga. Fane holds a BA (Gender Studies) from the University of Sydney, Australia and an MA in Diplomacy, Law and Business from O. P. Jindal Global University, India.