Posted by Grant Paice on May 22, 2019
“My Journey” by Veitomoni Siufanga
We had the pleasure of hearing Veitomoni Siufanga’s interesting journey from his upbringing in Tonga to his current position as a Reverent in a local Methodist Parish.
Veitomoni began his story by telling us that Tonga is known as “The Friendly Islands” and that his name is Fijian and means “love”.  He comes from a family of 12 and grew up in the place Captain Cook landed when visiting Tonga for the 1st time.
His family was passionate about education and his father initially worked for the Govt. but later on was unable to work and his mother had to work to support the family.  They earned money selling produce and food including jelly fish and coconuts.
After Veitomoni finished primary school he went to Methodist College and then in the early 1980s he attended High School but was told to leave as he had organised strikes.  He eventually found another Christian school to study at but had to promise not to organise any more strikes.
After this he took a management job with the Department of Transport on low pay.  He found that his income was not enough as he also now had a girlfriend and so left and started selling goods under the table which significantly increased his income.  When his brother realised what he was up to selling goods under the table and put a stop to it.  Veitomoni had to then move to New Zealand in the mid-60s.
He settled in Otara but found that he was no longer interested in schooling at this time. He got some factory work but as he was living the high life was sacked and needed to find something else to do.
He next developed a friendship with a person in a gang and he began to associate and become connected with them.  At this time there was a lot of friction between Tongans and Samoans which was becoming very dangerous.  The churches tried to stop this and Veitomoni next moved to Hamilton to escape it.  While the same issues were present there it was not as violent.
In one fight, however, he was badly injured and when he woke up a young lady was sitting beside him.  “Why are you here?” he asked to which she replied: “I saved your life.”  When he asked why she said she wanted to stop the fighting.  They had four children during their time together.
In the early 90’s Veitomoni needed to get away from New Zealand as he had got into some trouble and went back to Tonga for a while before returning some years later.  He next met a young Tongan girl and she helped him realise he needed to change as life was too short to keep putting himself at risk. 
She was a Mormon but decided to leave and go to a Methodist church and they had four children over the next 7 years.  “Some people are unsure if they are my children or grandchildren” said Veitomoni with a chuckle.
He next completed a Diploma at the Bible College of New Zealand and also ran a small business which he later gave up and got into Parish work which included working for a Trust that supports Pasifika youth and children.
Recently he was delighted to be seen as worthy of his current position as a Reverent and credits this to being able to gradually and progressively turn his life around.
He told his parish that he never dreamed that he would achieve this in his early years and that, going forward, we all need to be supportive of everyone as human beings regardless of who they are or what they have done in their past.
He feels that New Zealand is now a truly multicultural county and he likes the motto: “We are one.”
We thanked Veitomoni for sharing his journey with us and wished him well in his current and future roles.