Tonga’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Mahe Tupouniua?

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Mahe ‘Uli’uli Sandhurst Tupouniua Jr. presented his credentials as Tonga’s ambassador to the United States to President Barack Obama on September 17, 2013. Tupouniua is also his nation’s representative to the United Nations and is based in New York as Tonga has no embassy in Washington.


Tupouniua was born July 15, 1966. His father, Mahe ‘Uliuli Tupouniua, was a long-time government official who at various times was Tonga’s finance minister and deputy prime minister, among other positions. Tupouniua attended school in Fiji, then college in New Zealand, graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in 1989 from the University of Auckland. He also has a Master’s in foreign affairs and trade from Australia’s Monash University and a B.S. in business from the University of Phoenix, a U.S.-based for-profit enterprise with a dubious reputation.


Tupouniua joined Tonga’s Ministry for Foreign Affairs in 1990. He served as an assistant secretary for two years until being named Tonga’s consul in San Francisco. In 1996, Tupouniua was made a member of his country’s legislative assembly, serving until 2001. He was also senior assistant secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from 1999 until 2004. After that, he was first secretary in Tonga’s mission in London and then was deputy permanent representative to their UN mission.


In 2009, he was made ambassador to China for two years. Tupouniua then returned home as secretary for Foreign Affairs and subsequently as secretary of Foreign Affairs and Trade. In 2013, Tupouniua went to New York to assume his posts at the UN and as ambassador to the United States.


Tupouniua is married and has three children.

-Steve Straehley


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