Tupou Tertiary Institute (TTI) is at the current apex of the Free Wesleyan Church (FWC) Education System’s development in higher education. It had its beginning when the FWC decided to establish Tupou High School in 1963, a senior high school and the only one of its kind. It allowed students in Tonga to access overseas qualifications locally in the form of the Victorian State Intermediate, Leaving and Matriculation Certificates.  It did not take long for the vision to materialize and record a milestone in 1966 when it produced the first graduate to matriculate directly to an overseas university from Tonga.

History was in the making and Tupou High School was in the forefront paving the way. It was not the first time though for the FWC to be upbeat with education.  As a matter of fact, once the Church was permanently established in Tonga in 1826, it started the first primary school well before the government was able to make its contribution. Likewise, the Church also took the lead in founding Tupou College in 1866, the first secondary school to be established in the Pacific Islands. Towards the end of the 1970s and the beginning of the 1980s, almost all secondary schools in Tonga developed into complete high schools and were able to offer the overseas qualifications, which were for some time delivered only by Tupou High School.

Later developments, internally and externally, took away its mandatory mission and the school then faced an identity crisis.  Throughout the years, the title “SiakoMo’ui ‘Aonga” has been just another name for Tupou High School. It literally means “an abode where the school is located to nurture and produce useful and productive life;” both students and ex-students over the years have taken much pride in this identity. Invested in the uniform and the name were the status quo, the sense of achievement, the inclination for success and the aptitude for higher learning. The move to re-visit the vision of higher education and to bring back the integrity that Tupou High School enjoyed in its prime early years was initiated by the Ex-students Association in 1994.

After a series of fund raising activities in the following years in the villages of Tongatapu and then to the United States, Australia and New Zealand, the Tupou Business and Computer Education Centre was designated as the project to mark the effort of the ex-students.  The ceremony to mark the laying of the foundation of the Centre was officiated by Her Majesty Queen HalaevaluMata’aho on 29 June 1998 and construction work began in October of the same year. The grand opening of the Centre by His Majesty Taufa’ahauTupou IV on 4 May 1999 was celebrated together with the official launching of a Joint Venture Agreement for a working relationship between Tupou High School and the Whitireia Community Polytechnic of Porirua, Wellington, New Zealand.

This Joint Venture Agreement made possible the extension of the Whitireia’s NZQA accreditation to cover for the delivery of New Zealand accredited programs at Tupou High School. The first of these programs was the New Zealand Diploma in Business which began in February 14, 1999 with a cohort of 20 students. More programs were added in the later years and it did not take long for the project to gather momentum and make favourable impacts on higher education in Tonga. Students are now able to access New Zealand qualifications locally at a much reduced cost of about 10% of what they would pay to study overseas. All the above developments were brought about under the auspices of the Tupou High School’s management and commonly referred to as the Tupou High School Diploma Program. It was not to be for too long though - the ever increasing interest expressed by the public and students in the growing number of courses that were now available at this new development was a clear indication of the need for a post secondary institution. This led to the inauguration of the name Tupou Tertiary Institute (TTI) conferred in 2004 by the late King Taufa’ahauTupou 1V.

By 2008, TTI had grown in stature and nature thus requiring more space for its development. Like a hermit crab that has outgrown its current shell, the shift was inevitable. Hence, the separation of the high school programs from the newly introduced tertiary programs. It was like Tupou High School handing over the torch of higher education to be Tupou Tertiary Institute’s mandate. Such is the current situation with TTI. It has slowly but successfully located itself at the old Tupou High School Campus at Kolofo’ou.

It has expanded to include four main areas of NZ accredited study programs, namely, Business and Management, Information and Communication Technology, Architectural and Construction Technology and Teacher Education. The first two programs are delivered in collaboration with the Whitireia Community Polytechnic; the latter two are delivered in conjunction with the Wellington Institute of Technology and Bethlehem Tertiary Institute respectively. In addition to this, the USP Pre-degree studies courses, formerly known as USP Foundation/ Tupou High School Form 7 are also being taught at TTI. Partnerships in developments and expressions of interests are familiar news at TTI. ITU and Cisco Academy have established their training centre on campus.

The US Embassy has set up an American Corner in the Institute’s Learning Centre. Education USA have also found space in the same niche. The list is growing. It has been said that TTI mandates include facilitating higher education and enhancing employment capacity. To mark its 10th anniversary, statistics reveals that close to 500 have graduated with diplomas and 45 have graduated with bachelor degrees, and 3 with masters degrees.


The graduates who are serving in the workforce in Tonga and abroad are abundant in numbers and fortunes. The chapter 1 of TTI’s story is only unfolding and the adventure in the vast world of higher education promises more blessings amidst challenges. It is envisaged that the pages yet to be written will bring joy to the Free Wesleyan Church and Tonga and above all – glory and honour to the Almighty God, who is the source of all Wisdom and Understanding.