Tongan parliament lost for words to include woman MP

King Tupou VI speaks at the opening of parliament in 2015 Image copyright Parliament of Tonga website
Image caption King Tupou VI listed healthy living, education and the economy as the country's main challenges when opening parliament

The Tongan parliament found itself in a bit of a bind this week when it struggled to find a word to encompass all its members, including the sole woman MP, Akosita Lavulavu.

The MPs were approving a letter in response to King Tupou VI's speech opening the current parliamentary session, and one word used in the letter - "matu'a" - was rejected by Lord Havea Tu'iha'angana, on the grounds that it referred to a group of old men, the Matangi Tonga Online website reports.

Mrs Lavulavu suggested they use two separate terms denoting a group of old men and one old woman. But another noble, Lord Tu'ilakepa, objected on the grounds that "finemotu'a" - "one old woman" - was not "a good word", the Matangi Tonga Online said.

The discussion went on beyond noon and, eventually, the MPs agreed to use the word "mau", which means "we", and voted unanimously to correct the letter accordingly.

The website also noted that Mrs Lavulavu reminded her colleagues that regardless of the term used, "remember there is one finemotu'a in the House".

The Kingdom of Tonga has a population of 105,000 people and moved away from being an absolute monarchy in 2010, when the country held partial elections for the first time.

Image copyright Facebook/AkositaH.Lavulavu
Image caption Mrs Lavulavu does not appear to have taken the matter too much to heart

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