A special coronation for minister
Being recognised for service to the community is nothing new for Kilifi Heimuli.
The walls of his Sandringham home are lined with certificates including a Queen’s Service Medal and membership to the New Zealand Order of Merit.
He spent 17 years as a police officer, more than 10 years as a Methodist minister and helps out various community groups around the country.
His latest achievement was being named a commander in a ceremony at the coronation of Tongan King George Tupou V on August 1 for services to the king and kingdom.
But when asked about the honour, Mr Heimuli is reluctant to accept any praise.
“I just love working with and serving people, both individuals and in the community,” he says.
Mr Heimuli has enjoyed a varied career since he came to New Zealand from Tonga in the 1970s.
He trained as a police officer, graduating in 1983 and spent 17 years in the force, earning a Queen’s Service Medal during that time.
Alongside his work as a police officer, Mr Heimuli was actively involved with the St Johns Methodist Church in Ponsonby.
He has spent many years helping youth who immigrated from Tonga to integrate into society, find jobs and learn life skills, and has participated in local and national government.
He has also offered his services to the community as a driving instructor helping people of various cultures gain their driver’s licences after moving to New Zealand.
In 1997, Mr Heimuli decided to work in in the church fulltime.
He trained as a minister and was ordained a year later.
He is now part of Vahefonua Tonga o’ Aotearoa – a Tongan synod of the Methodist Church and is a district co-superintendent of the Methodist Church of New Zealand.
In 2006, Mr Heimuli was rewarded for his long service to the community by being made a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit.
He was surprised to hear he was also receiving an honour at this year’s coronation of King George Tupou V.
“I was very pleased and honoured to get the phone call and to be invited to the celebrations,” he says.
Reverend and friend Tevita Fuinau has known Mr Heimuli since he came to New Zealand.
He says he deserves the honour because of his long service to the community, not only in Tonga but New Zealand as well.
“He has multi roles at multi levels and the awards demonstrate his passion and compassion for the people,” he says.
Proud day: Kilifi Heimuli of Sandringham was named a commander in the Tongan Coronation ceremony held last month.