Tributes are pouring in after the death of Dr Netatua Prescott Taufatofua has been widely reported on Facebook this evening.
Dr Taufatofua’s family could not be reached for comment.
Her sister-in-law Elenoa Koloamatangi Prescott said on Facebook there was plan for Dr Taufatofua and her siblings to meet in Tonga when the border restrictions were lifted.
“‘Ikani (Dr Taufatofua’s brother) was crying and wishing he could kiss you goodbye,” ‘Elenoa wrote in Tongan.
A Tongan community leader in Australia, Uanivā Havea who goes by the name Touhuni Halapuopua on Social Media wrote on Facebook: “Netatua I can’t believe you’re gone. What a shock to learn just now of your passing, here on Facebook.”
“You only responded yesterday to the pictures I posted, suggesting that they’d be good for our Museum in Tonga. It’s as if you’ve now left me a chore to consider.
“Thank you for your leadership and for going the extra miles to ensure that there is a sense of purpose and that people would benefit in significant ways.
“ You’ve left Kolomotu’a, and Tonga for that matter, in a better place with people working together in one spirit of peace and harmony.
“My deepest condolences to the widow, Pita Tāufatofua, and your immediate family. Also to your siblings Lesieli, ‘Īkani, Kolopeaua, and the rest of your family. May God’s peace be with you all during this very difficult journey. Rest in God’s eternal peace dear Dr. Netatua. You’ve finished the race, now receive your crown from our Heavenly Father.”
Dr Taufatofua stood as candidate for Tongatapu One last year in the by-election for Late ‘Akilisi Pohiva, the former Tongatapu One constituency MP. She was defeated by MP Siaosi Pohiva.
She held a PhD Degree in Environmental Science, specialising in Sustainable Coastal Resource Monitoring and Assessment, coastal water quality, coral reefs and sea grass from the Environmental Science Department, University of Wollongong, Australia (2003).
As a scientist, Taufatofua was a Director of the Climate Change Division at the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP).
Last year she became a new member of the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) Scientific Advisory Panel, an elite group of 15 scientists worldwide who are experts on weather, climate and water.