On or about 1998, the late Crown Prince Tupouto‘a set up an Interim Committee for Public Complaints under the Ministry of Justice. This was an initiative to promote quality service delivery, good administration (fair and responsive), accountability and good governance within the public sector.
The Privy Council appointed Mr Siaosi T. ‘Aho as the first Commissioner for Public Relations. Mr. Siasosi T. ‘Aho held this position until 2004. There were 4 staff who assisted the Commissioner in this new role, Mrs. Suliana Vi, Mr. Ma’afu Tonga, Mrs. Mo’onia Taufa and Mr. Mosese ‘Elone.
Mr Pita Vuki and Ms Lupe Ha’amoa ‘Ilaiu alternated as Acting Commissioners before Rev. Penisimani Tavalu Fonua was appointed Commissioner in late 2005 until his retirement on 2nd of November 2006.
From 2006 – 2012 there was no appointed Commissioner which meant the Office existed in name but was ineffective because there was no Commissioner to invoke the powers under the Act.
On 21st of March, Mr ‘Aisea H. Taumoepeau, SC was appointed Acting Commissioner and was confirmed in November 2014 as the incumbent Commissioner.
On 2nd December 2016, legislative changes achieved:
- Change of Commissioner of Public Relations to Ombudsman
- Accountable authority from Privy Council and Cabinet to Speaker and the Legislative Assembly
- Powers to make reports public based on public interest
July 29th – received Royal Assent by His Majesty constitutionalising the Ombudsman as a constitutional officer protected from political interference.
August 18th – celebrated vicennial (20th) anniversary with an opening of sub-branch at Neiafu, Vava’u.