ʻATENISI INSTITUTE

An institute for critical education in the South Pacific

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Aug. 2019 – Former NZ High Com. Analyses Transition of Four Monarchies to Democracy

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Dr Christine Bogle (right) presents a copy of her thesis to Vasalua Helu

Dr Christine Bogle – who was New Zealand High Commissioner during Tonga’s transition to quasi-democracy from 2008 to 2010 – revisited the issue of democratisation at informal colloquium Monday evening, 26 August. The event drew an accomplished audience including veteran journalists Kalafi Moala, Pese Fonua, and Mary Fonua, civil society advocate Drew Havea, economist Peter Poulsen, archaeologist Shaun Egan, and Lopeti Senituli, advisor to Hon. PM ‘Akilisi Pōhiva.

Bogle summarised the PhD thesis on Thailand, Nepal, Bhutan, and Tonga that she recently defended at Victoria University of Wellington. The study found that both George Tupou V of Tonga (r. 2006-12) and Jigme Singye Wangchuck of Bhutan (r. 1972-2006) pledged to democratise their nations at the outset of their reign. On the other hand, Nepal’s last monarch – Gyanendra Shah (r. 2001-08) – contemptuously dismissed democracy until dethroned by his nation’s legislature. As for Thailand’s Bhumibol Adulyadej (r. 1946-2016), there was ambivalence, at times punctuated by opposition.

Following her talk, Dr Bogle presented a copy of her thesis to ‘Atenisi's acting dean of faculty Vasalua Helu, M.A. The copy will be housed in the Institute’s recently renovated library at Latu Selu Hall.