‘Aisea Havea Taumoepeau, SC
Mr ‘Aisea Havea Taumoepeau, SC was initially appointed on 24 October 2014 for a term of 5 years and extended through till 18 February 2023.
‘Aisea studied law at Victoria University of Wellington and graduated with an LLB, and was admitted as a Barrister and Solicitor of the High Court of New Zealand. He also graduated with LLM from the University of Melbourne.
‘Aisea made a career in the Tongan Government legal office, then known as the Crown Law Department (now the Attorney General’s Office). He worked his way up and became the Solicitor General (and ex officio member of the Civil Service Staff Board) for 14 years, before becoming the Attorney General and Minister of Justice for 3 years. He then spent 10 years in private practice, including being a member (or chairman) of various statutory boards and public enterprises, before his appointment as Ombudsman.
Formerly known as the Commissioner for Public Relations, the Commissioner for Public Relations (Amendment) Act 2016 bought about structural changes including a name change to the Ombudsman.
Other changes including the accountability of the Ombudsman to the Legislative Assembly (through the Speaker), rather than the government of the day, and can only be dismissed for cause, by the Legislative Assembly.
In August 2021, the Ombudsman gained constitutional status through amendment which means that the Ombudsman is now considered as a constitutional officer and is afforded the highest protection from political interference.
The Ombudsman may investigate:
- a complaint raised by any member of the public; or
- complaint by his own motion; or
- a complaint referred by the Prime Minister but through his consent.
The Ombudsman will not usually intervene until the aggrieved person has raised their concerns with the responsible agency.