Biographical entry: Waena, Nathaniel Rahumaea (1945 - )

1 November 1945


Nathaniel Rahumaea Waena was born on 1 November 1945 at Su'utaluhia on Ulawa Island. His father was Joseph Talo and his mother was Matilda Tahalata. He attended Ripo village elementary school (1954-1955) until in January 1956, at the age of eleven, his parents sent him to St. Barnabas' Primary School at Alangaula (q.v.) on Ugi Island, which he attended until 1959. From 1960 to 1964 he completed his upper primary and secondary education at All Hallows' School at Pawa (q.v.). In January 1965 the BSIP Chamber of Commerce sponsored him to attend a year-long course in commercial training at Lae Technical Institute in Papua New Guinea. When he returned to the Solomons he worked for the Mobile Oil Company from January 1966 until 1971, when he joined the public service.

His first posting, on 15 September, was at Kirakira on Makira as Executive Officer to the District Commissioner. In 1972 he served with the first Solomon Islander District Commissioner, Frederick A. Osifelo (q.v.), and in 1973 he moved to Santa Cruz. He returned to Kirakira in 1974 to serve under District Commissioners Francis Talasasa (q.v.) and Peter Kenilorea (q.v.). Waena became Deputy Clerk to the Makira Local Council under Francis Billy Hilly (q.v.). During these years he was involved in the amalgamation of Local Councils. In 1975 he qualified as a lay Magistrate and was posted to the Guadalcanal Local Council as Deputy Clerk. The next year he moved again, this time to Isabel, as Clerk to the Isabel Local Council. In 1977 he was posted back to the Eastern Outer Islands District as Clerk to the Local Council there, and in 1980 he returned to Guadalcanal as Provincial Secretary (1980-1982). Next Waena was based in Honiara as Chief Administrative Officer in the Ministry of Transport, Works and Utilities (1983-1984). He then returned to his home area as Permanent Secretary with the Makira-Ulawa and Temotu Provincial Affairs Ministry, and subsequently served a term as Permanent Secretary of Western Province, during which he helped establish Choiseul Province. He also held Permanent Secretary positions in the ministries of Provincial Government and Rural Development; Natural Resources; Transport, Works and Utilities; and Agriculture, Lands and Surveys. At the direction of Prime Minister Mamaloni (q.v.), Waena was responsible for the capture of the vessel Jeanette Diana, which was illegally fishing in Solomon Islands waters. The ship's seizure sparked a major dispute with the United States, where the ship was registered (Kengalu 1988).

In 1970 Waena contested the election for the Makira constituency against Mamaloni (a former Pawa schoolmate) and Geoffrey Kuper, with Mamaloni the victor. In the 1973 election he stood for the West Makira electorate, receiving 446 votes against Mamaloni, who once again won, with 1,272 votes. Waena says that he did not campaign in either election. His maintained his interest in politics and in 1980 he joined Mamaloni's Peoples' Alliance Party. In a bye-election in December 1987, he entered National Parliament unopposed as the member for Ulawa-Uki constituency, serving until 6 July 2004. In 1989 he was appointed roving election manager for Mamaloni's People's Alliance Party. Both Waena and Mamaloni stood unopposed in that election. Wanea served as Minister for Provincial Government and Rural Development in Mamaloni's one-party Government in 1989-1990, but he was sacked along with four other Ministers for supporting the party's President, Sir David Kausimae (q.v.), in a dispute with Mamaloni. Waena remained as leader of the parliamentary wing of the People's Alliance Party, and took part in the negotiations to form the Ulufa'alu government (1997-2000). He first served as Deputy Speaker from 1997 until June 2000, when the Ulufa'alu government was overthrown.

Between 1999 and 2002 Waena became the Executive Committee Representative of the Pacific Region (including New Zealand) for the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, and travelled to Gibraltar, Jersey, London and Edinburgh. In 2000 he became Minister for Provincial Government and Rural Development in the first Sogavare government, when he was responsible for brokering the ceasefire agreement with Harold Keke. He also served as Minister for National Unity, Peace and Reconciliation from 2001 to 2004. Waena was elected as Governor-General on 7 July 2004 and remained in that position until 2009. He received a Cross of Solomon Islands in 2003 and was knighted in 2005 (GCMG and KStJ). In 2010 the Prime Minister appointed him as a member of the Eminent Persons Advisory Council within the Constitutional Congress to help develop a state government system. In the 2010 general elections he stood unsuccessfully for the Ulawa-Ugi Constituency. In 2011 he became Chairman of the College of Higher Education, tasked with converting the College into a National University. On Easter 1972 Waena married Alice Ole Unusu from Simbo, and over time they adopted six children: Reginald, Patricia, Raphael, Ian, Maureen and Alison. (NS 30 Nov. 1965, 21 Dec. 1965, 22 June 1973; Sir Nathaniel Waena, personal communication, 22 Mar. 2012)

Related Concepts

Related Party

Published resources


  • Kengalu, Anne M., Embargo, the Jeanette Diana Affair, Robert Brown and Associates, Bathurst, 1988. Details


  • British Solomon Islands Protectorate (ed.), British Solomon Islands Protectorate News Sheet (NS), 1955-1975. Details