Tokelau Farewell a Humbly Committed Leader

20 May 2015
Ionatana Kolouei O’Brien farewell by families, friends and colleagues at a family service held today at the Ligaliga Funeral Parlour at Motootua, Samoa.
Ionatana Kolouei O’Brien, 75, died on May 11, 2015 in Fakaofo, Tokelau, surrounded by the family and friends whom he loved so dearly throughout his life.
Born in Fakaofo 1939, before moving to New Zealand where he married his wife Limalei Anne O’Brien and raised six kids. Mr O’brien return to Tokelau in 1991 and entered the political scene in 1999, elected as the Faipule of Fakaofo, holding Finance, Transport and Energy portfolio under his ministerial period. Kolouei was elected Faipule for three consecutive terms before being reappointed as the current Minister of Transport this year.
Eulogies given during the service, humbleness and commitment to serving Tokelau was what he is best known for.
Minister of Telecommunication, Pulenuku Mose Pelasio conveyed the Government’s condolences to the mourning family. Pelasio spoke of his leadership attributes of a committed and humble type of leader to providing quality of life for the nation, and how those that work for Tokelau should be encourage and strive to be.
His wife, Limalei Anne O’Brien, spoke off her husband caring and loving personality that will be hard for her to forget. He had little time spent with his beloved family during his times as the Minister. She highlighted that her husband was much more passionate about Tokelau then she was, and that very much reflected his level of commitment to his work.
Kolouei during his time as Minister of Finance was instrumental in allocating the trust fund capital which currently sits at NZ$80 million. He was the Minister of Energy in 2004 and led the renewable energy transition with carrying out feasibility projects on the island. He was among the leaders that discussed Tokelau’s new transporting vessel, which is now set to make its maiden journey in July.
Ionatana Kolouei O’Brien visited the construction site of its new boat in Bangladesh last month as the Minister of Transport to assess and ensures the new boat “Mataliki” was fit for the need of Tokelau. During the visit, Mr O’Brien conveyed the Government’s appreciation for the work done on the new boat, and ensured Tokelau that the new vessel will improve the quality of life for his people.
Ionatana Kolouei O’Brien served Tokelau for 15 years, not only as Minister of Finance, Minister of Transport and Minister of Energy during his times as Faipule but was also a member of the Council of Elders for Fakaofo (Taupulega). He was also a member of the Council of Faipule, now known as the Council for the Ongoing Government of Tokelau.