Australian High Commission
Kingdom of Tonga

Latu SVP

Latu's visit to Australia a great success

The Australian High Commission and Ministry of Finance and National Planning congratulate Natalia Palu Latu, Deputy Secretary for Policy and Reform on her participation in the Australian Special Visits Programme (SVP) 2014. Ms Latu visited Australia from 26 April – 2 May.

“The Australian High Commission was delighted that Ms Latu agreed to participate in this year’s Special Visits Program,” said H.E. Brett Aldam, Australia’s High Commissioner to Tonga.

“Ms Latu’s nomination reflected her significant contribution to donor coordination and the development of economic policy in Tonga as part of the Finance Ministry team. Ms Latu’s very busy program was, by all accounts, a great success.”

The SVP invites emerging leaders in their field to undertake a high level program in Australia to increase the understanding of shared foreign and trade policy interests. During her visit, Ms Latu met with government representatives, departments, business groups and policy think-tanks, including the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, the Australian Reserve Bank, Pacific Trade and Invest, Westpac and ANZ.

“I am grateful to have met such a diverse group of people and organisations. It has given me a renewed perspective of reform and how the Ministry of Finance as a central agency can play a better role in terms of whole of government reform,” said Ms Latu.

“I have a better understanding and appreciation of government systems and how a much smaller administration like Tonga can learn from the experiences of a neighbouring country such as Australia.”

Throughout the visit Ms Latu said organisations and individuals had positive feedback on the progress Tonga continues to make in terms of policy reforms, governance and government initiatives that are considered leading the way in the region or accepted as good development practice. She intends to apply the knowledge and connections made during the visit to improve her work and better support colleagues and relevant stakeholders.

“This is yet another win for the Ministry and we are pleased to have such dedicated civil servants working for us,” said Hon. Dr Aisake Eke, Minister for Finance and National Planning. “Mr Tatafu Meoaki, CEO for the Ministry, was the recipient of the New Zealand Prime Minister’s Fellowship 2013, so we are very pleased because it is the Ministry’s success as well.”

The Minister for Finance and National Planning 'Aisake Value Eke welcomed the award saying it was yet another win for the Ministry.

“We are pleased with the recognition of the dedication and demonstrated commitment that exists within our ranks of staff,” the Minister said. “CEO Tatafu Moeaki was the recipient of the New Zealand Prime Minister’s Fellowship in 2013 and now Ms Latu’s special award continues to build the depth of our senior staff in the Ministry.”

In recognition of Ms Latu’s significant contribution to managing the overseas development aid programme, she has recently been promoted to Deputy Secretary for the newly established Policy and Reform Division. Prior to that, she was Principal Economist in the Project and Aid Management Division since June 2008. In this role, Ms Latu successfully led the negotiations for a more coordinated agreement amongst development partners on policy reform action for the Government of Tonga. This process is now a recognised development practice in the region.

Previous recipients of this award from Tonga are Ms Mishka Tu’ifa in 2008-09 and the late Lord Tu’a Taumoepeau-Tupou in 2010-11.

Ms Latu’s interview with ABC can be accessed here.