19 Nov 2010

Talanoa advocated to keep Tongans engaged in decision making after poll

2:30 pm on 19 November 2010

A Tongan academic, who has returned to contest the country's elections, wants to ensure a broad consultative democracy emerges after next week's historic poll.

Dr Sitiveni Halapua has spent much of the past 23 years out of Tonga and achieved prominence across the Pacific as an advocate of talanoa, or traditional Polynesian consultative discussion, as a means of diffusing disputes.

He wants to see similar techniques applied in Tonga to encourage what he calls participatory democracy, to ensure that the parliamentarians stay connected to the people.

"Election is important but it's also more important is what happens after, what kind of consultative talanoa process that we must put in place for the people to continue, and for the government to continue, to engage the people in the decision making process."

Dr Sitiveni Halapua.