From Tofoa, in the Tongan capital of Nuku’alofa, Pita Tahitu’a is an officer in the Royal Tongan Police.
Pita Tahitu’a began his 12-month deployment as a RAMSI Participating Police Force Adviser in December 2009.
During his deployment, Pita worked in Auki, the capital of Malaita Province, as well as a member of the RAMSI Community Policing team, and in general duties at Central Police Station in Solomon Islands’ capital, Honiara.
From Tofoa in Tonga’s capital, Nuku’alofa, Pita is a member of the Royal Tongan Police, and takes a strong team approach with other Participating Police Force Advisers from more than 15 Pacific nations. During his time in Solomon Islands, Pita also found time around his work schedule to teach Solomon Islanders more about his passion, rugby.
Former Solicitor-General of Tonga, Linda Folaumoetui brings a wealth of expertise to her role as Litigation Adviser for the Solomon Islands' Attorney General’s Chambers.
After more than four years as an adviser to the Attorney-General’s Chambers in Solomon Islands, Linda Folaumoetui’s still brings an irrepressible smile and can-do attitude to her work.
It is these traits that have won over her Solomon Island counterparts.
“Linda has given me the confidence to stand up and talk in court,” says John Muria, a senior crown counsel with the Attorney-General’s Chambers. “I used to be hesitant about going to court and would get butterflies. But she always gives me a confidence boost and tells me I can do it; she pushes me, and now I can.
“Linda has also helped me develop my ideas and legal arguments. I know my legal issues now. I know where to go and what to look for.”
Mrs Folaumoetui comes from Loto Ha’apai, in the Friendly Islands of Tonga, where she once served as Solicitor-General.
Brought to Solomon Islands under RAMSI’s Law and Justice Program, she now provides legal advice to government departments and represents litigation cases in courts. She also works with her Solomon Islands counterparts to build their capacity in drafting legal opinions, developing trial techniques and researching case law.
For Mrs Folaumoetui, professionally and personally, it has been an easy transition across the Pacific from Tonga to Solomon Islands.
“I came from a small island state and from offices that had limited resources. It helps me see things in a different light if there are a few hiccups along the way here. I relate well to my counterparts and can understand the hurdles they can face in their work, such as language.”
Originally Mrs Folaumoetui, who is accompanied by her family, intended to come to Solomon Islands for just one year but has now stayed for nearly five. Over that time, she has seen the skills of her counterparts grow.
“They are now very capable at identifying the issues, and carrying out full trials on their own. When I arrived, they couldn’t do that.”
The efficiency of the office and reputation has also increased.
“When I first came, a lot of files were still in limbo and there was a backlog. One of my first jobs was to audit all the civil files, and decide which files should still progress. Some of them had been hanging around for a long time, when simple things could have finalised the cases.
“When I came, I also tried to rebuild confidence in our office by other ministries and departments. They were doing their own thing without seeking advice from the Attorney-General’s chambers, resulting in cases brought against the government and the government being liable for large sums of money.
“So we went out and spoke with government ministries and officials, and explained the role of the office and our endeavour to improve things.”
But for Mrs Folaumoetui the biggest achievement has been the working relationships she has developed with her team and the growth she has seen in their confidence and capacity to do their jobs effectively.
“The ability to work together and be able to discuss legal issues, freely with each other is the biggest achievement. I have always had an open door policy. That working relationship has paid off in a lot of respects, especially in cases of successful litigation cases whether they be short trials or full cases.
“I think I’ve managed to establish a confidence in me from my local staff, and have been able to also get back government’s confidence in the office.”
Mrs Folaumoetui has achieved all this professionally, while being a mother of four children, and providing support to Solomon Islands' Law Week and offering herself as a mentor to other women in Solomon Islands government.
For Mrs Folaumoetui , it has been the diversity of Solomon Islands that has made her life in the country so memorable.
“I am quite in awe of the richness and diversity of culture in Solomon Islands – in language, race and custom. I come from a culture that speaks one language, and we are just one race. Here there are Polynesians, Micronesians and Melanesians, and I am amazed by the ability of Solomon Islands to live and work together and be able to approach issues from all those different backgrounds, and yet still be able to consider Solomon Islands their home and their country.”
“I have learnt a lot coming here, and I will leave this place more aware and more appreciative of diversity.”