Soana ‘Ungatea Havea Fonua was born at Neiafu, Vava’u on the 4th of December 1911. Her parents were Sione Havea of ‘Utui, Vava’u and Lu’isa Lakai Ma’u Havea from ‘Utulau, Tongatapu. During her childhood life, she attended the Free Wesleyan Primary School at Nafualu. During her high school, she attended Queen S’lote College from 1923 - 1927. In 1926 she achieved her Maamaloa award. In 1927, she gained a Maamaloa Loumaile Honour and was named the Dux of her year.
She married Samiuela Manitisa of Fo’ui, Tongatapu. Samiu was a minister for the Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga, so this meant that they would move to various places where they ministered including Niuafo’ou, Kanokupolu and Nafualu. They were also teachers at Queen S’lote College in 1946 and 1947 and retired for one year to ‘Utulau. A year later they returned to service and taught at Tupou College, Toloa. In 1953, her husband took ill and later passed away, five years later in 1958. This left ‘Ungatea with the task of looking after their four sons, Penisimani Tavalu, Siosiua Holitei, Kalisitiane Fekau’aki ’ kofe and Sione Hikaione.
It is clear that ‘Ungatea had really tried the best for her sons even though their father was gone. ‘We were very happy and enjoyed life tremendously while our father was alive and our mother tried her best to keep us that way after our father died.’ In the early days of ‘Ungatea’s widowhood, she faced hardships, ‘Trying to make ends meet. She was still living in the bush and had to collect dried coconuts in order to make copra so that she could have enough money to educate my younger brothers and to meet other demands such as local church quarterly and yearly fund collection and Q.S.C. ex-students fund raising etc.’ (Penisimani )
In one way or another ‘Ungatea made sure her sons learnt something from her and to Siosiua, it was, ’ To love God whatever we do, be of service to God. When in need, seek God’s guidance. She emphasized that God has an answer for every problem. I think she assumed that there would be hard times, there would be problems, trials and tribulations and she wanted us to be prepared.’ (Siosiua) ’’’’’’’’
‘Ungatea reached some high points in life in which she was chosen to speak on behalf of Queen S’lote Tupou III and the Langafonua Women of Tonga during the PSSEAWA Conference in Nuku’alofa in 1964. She was later chosen to represent the Methodist Women’s Conference in London in 1966 and in the U.S.A. in 1967. (Kalisitiane)
‘Ungatea was the chairperson of the school PTA and committee. She was a member of the FWC Women’s Department and Vice President until her death. ‘Ungatea was very active in all activities pertaining to women and an active member of the local church and gave her full support to education at all levels. To the youngest son, ‘Ungatea’s background is involved in church activities and encouraged us to follow her footsteps. ‘Ungatea’s way of abiding faith inGgod is by becoming a committed Christian. She was the first local woman preacher, conducting services of various kinds and attending conferences, seminars and workshops, etc… ‘I could remember ‘Ungatea’s faith being tested when Samiu passed away because she relied mainly on his income. As far as I know, she triumphed only because of her Christian faith in Christ.’ (Sione Hikaione)
Sione (Hikaione) recalls, ’ The last thing she ever said to me was to do my job properly and to be honest and faithful to my Lord. If I had the chance to speak to her today I would say, ‘Thank you for bringing me up and the sacrifice you faced in order to keep me going and be in this situation. Describing my mother in two words is a Christian and Loving mother. Her most enduring legacy is an upright and caring Christian mother and dedicated wife.’
… and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.’
Excerpts taken from a project done by
Lokini Vuki titled. Sioana ‘Ungatea Havea Fonua, through the eyes of her four
[ref: © Lokini Vuki 1999]