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Maatia Toafa

The Right Honourable
Maatia Toafa
Deputy Prime Minister of Tuvalu
Assumed office
10 April 2015
Prime Minister Enele Sopoaga
Preceded by Vete Sakaio
Minister of Finance
Assumed office
5 August 2013
Prime Minister Enele Sopoaga
Preceded by Lotoala Metia
Prime Minister of Tuvalu
In office
29 September 2010 – 24 December 2010
Monarch Elizabeth II
Governor General Iakoba Italeli
Preceded by Apisai Ielemia
Succeeded by Willy Telavi
In office
11 October 2004 – 14 August 2006
Acting: 27 August 2004 – 11 October 2004
Monarch Elizabeth II
Governor General Faimalaga Luka
Preceded by Saufatu Sopoanga
Succeeded by Apisai Ielemia
Member of Parliament
Assumed office
25 July 2002
Serving with Satini Manuella
Preceded by Kokea Malua
Lagitupu Tuilimu
Constituency Nanumea
Personal details
Born 1 May 1954
Political party Independent
Spouse(s) Pulafagau Toafa

Maatia Toafa OBE (born 1 May 1954) is a Tuvaluan politician, representing Nanumea who served two non-consecutive terms as Prime Minister of Tuvalu. He first served as Prime Minister from 2004 to 2006, from the resignation of his predecessor, Saufatu Sopoanga,[1] until the defeat of his Cabinet in the 2006 general election.[2] He was re-elected to parliament in the 2010 general election;[3] and regained the premiership on 29 September 2010;[4] however he lost the support of the parliament following a motion of confidence on 21 December of the same year.[5] On 5 August Toafa became the Minister of Finance and Economic Development in the government following Enele Sopoaga becoming prime minister.[6]

Prior to entering domestic Tuvaluan politics, Toafa worked for the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat in Suva, Fiji.


  • Prime Minister of Tuvalu (2004–06) 1
  • Succession and subsequent career 2
  • Prime Minister of Tuvalu (2010) 3
    • Historical note 3.1
  • Later career 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7

Prime Minister of Tuvalu (2004–06)

Prime Minister Saufatu Sopoanga resigned from Parliament on 27 August 2004, after his government was deposed in a no confidence vote. Toafa, who was deputy prime minister at the time, became acting prime minister as a result of Sopoanga's resignation from office. The Nukufetau by-election, 2004 was held on 7 October; Sopoanga was reelected to parliament and parliament reconvened to elect a new prime minister. Toafa was confirmed as Prime Minister on 11 October 2004 with a vote of 8:7,[1][2] Toafa also became Minister of Foreign Affairs.

During his term as prime minister Toafa undertook a review of the Constitution of Tuvalu and pledged to hold a referendum on whether the British monarch should be replaced as the Head of State of Tuvalu.[2] The Tuvaluan constitutional referendum, 2008, held during the term of Prime Minister Apisai Ielemia, resulted in a majority vote against establishing a republic.[7]

On Friday 16 September 2005, Toafa represented Tuvalu at the UN '2005 World Summit' discussing the problems faced by Small Island Developing States (SIDS), citing a lack of financial and technical access, Environmental security and infrastructural capacity. Toafa argued for the presence of permanent United Nations, activity in 'isolated' SIDS countries such as Tuvalu.[8] Maatia Toafa emphasized the impact of climate change as a "broader security issue which relates to environmental security. Living in a very fragile island environment, our long-term security and sustainable development is closely linked to issues of climate change, preserving biodiversity, managing our limited forests and water resources."[9][10]

Succession and subsequent career

Toafa was reelected to Parliament during the 2006 general election, but all of the members of his Cabinet were defeated. On 14 August 2006 he was succeeded as Prime Minister by Apisai Ielemia.[2] Toafa continued to serve as a member of the Parliament of Tuvalu as the Leader of the Opposition from 2006 until 2010.

Prime Minister of Tuvalu (2010)

Toafa was re-elected to Parliament from his Nanumea constituency in the 2010 Tuvaluan general election.[11]

A secret ballot was held on 29 September 2010, approximately one and a half weeks after the general election, to determine the country's next Prime Minister.[12] Incumbent Prime Minister Apisai Ielemia, who had succeeded Toafa for the office in 2006, was not returned to second term. Toafa won the ballot with eight votes to become Tuvalu's next prime minister. Toafa narrowly defeated Kausea Natano, who received the votes of seven MPs in the ballot. The election results were announced by Governor-General Iakoba Italeli and Toafa took office the same day.

On 5 October 2010 a week after his appointment as Prime Minister, Toafa was interviewed on Radio Australia by presenter Geraldine Coutts. Asked if the 15 member parliament had become more stable, after the election of five new MP'S Toafa replied (in reference to his new 8 member cabinet including 5 new MPS) 'Yeah, I think the idea is to get the number right, meaning turn five because 15 altogether. Yeah, once I get the number right, then things can be more stabilised'. He also talked of the challenges the country faced due to the effects of climate change citing coral bleaching, changing weather patterns, water degradation and the effects of increased water salinity upon agriculture as evidence.[13]

Upon taking office, he told Tuvalu News that his government would "work for human security ensuring the basic human needs" of the inhabitants of all nine islands and atolls, in particular by rapidly "build[ing] up the[ir] economic infrastructure". This would require partnerships with donor countries, which he would seek to expand. He would also "work aggressively on the world society to protect small countries" from the effects of climate change.[4]

On 21 December 2010, Toafa and his government were toppled by a parliamentary motion of confidence, by eight votes to seven. His Minister of Home Affairs, Willy Telavi, crossed the floor and enabled the Opposition to bring down the government. The motion was reportedly initiated due to MPs' concerns over certain aspects of the budget, in particular the prospect that the government may no longer fully fund patients' medical costs abroad.[5] With a new Prime Minister due to be chosen on 24 December, Toafa announced that he would not be standing for the job, but that he hoped his deputy and Foreign Affairs and Environment Minister, Enele Sopoaga, would be chosen by Parliament in his place.[14]

Historical note

In the history of independent Tuvalu, Bikenibeu Paeniu has been the only other Prime Minister apart from Maatia Toafa to have served a second period in that office.

Later career

Toafa was appointed to the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2014 New Year Honours list, "for public and community service".[15]

See also

Preceded by
Saufatu Sopoanga
Prime Minister of Tuvalu
Succeeded by
Apisai Ielemia
Preceded by
Apisai Ielemia
Prime Minister of Tuvalu
Succeeded by
Willy Telavi


  1. ^ a b "New Tuvalu leader seeks stability". Radio New Zealand. 11 October 2004. Retrieved 11 April 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Palamene o Tuvalu (Parliament of Tuvalu)". Inter-Parliamentary Union. 2006. Retrieved 7 March 2013. 
  3. ^ "Current Members (including Ministers and Private Members)". The Parliament of Tuvalu. Retrieved 7 March 2013. 
  4. ^ a b "Interview with New Prime Minister of Tuvalu", Tuvalu News, 23 November 2010
  5. ^ a b "Nominations open for new Tuvalu PM", Radio New Zealand International, 22 December 2010
  6. ^ "Enele Sopoaga Sworn-in Today as Tuvalu’s New PM". Islands Business. 5 August 2013. Retrieved 5 August 2013. 
  7. ^ "Tuvalu votes to maintain monarchy", Radio Australia, 17 June 2008
  8. ^ "Statement by His Excellency, The Honourable MAATIA TOAFA" (PDF). Retrieved 7 December 2011. 
  9. ^ "2005 World Summit - 60th Session of the UN General Assembly" (PDF). UN. 16 September 2005. Retrieved 26 April 2015. 
  10. ^ Taafaki, Tauaasa (2007). "Polynesia in Review: Issues and Events, 1 July 2005 to 30 June 2006, Tuvalu". The Contemporary Pacific 19 (1): 276–286. 
  11. ^ Cannon, Brian (16 September 2010). "Tuvalu Election Results".  
  12. ^ "Tuvaluan Prime Minister to be named Wednesday".  
  13. ^ "Tuvalu PM vows to continue climate fight". ABC Radio Australia. Retrieved 6 December 2011. 
  14. ^ "Tuvalu’s deposed PM seeks majority to vote in his deputy", Radio New Zealand International, 22 December 2010
  15. ^ The London Gazette, 30 December 2013

External links

  • Islands Business: Prime Minister Maatia Seeks Another Term
Political offices
Preceded by
Saufatu Sopoanga
Prime Minister of Tuvalu
Succeeded by
Apisai Ielemia
Preceded by
Apisai Ielemia
Prime Minister of Tuvalu
Succeeded by
Willy Telavi
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