The first female land surveyor in Tonga: A voice for change in the Pacific


Siotasia Malolo is the first woman in Tonga who dared to take up a career path in one of the Island Kingdom’s male dominated professions, Land Surveying. Did she choose this profession or did the profession choose her?

According to the 23 year old, her biggest inspiration in achieving this success came from her father, who was also a land surveyor.

‘Growing up seeing my dad inspired me so much, just by seeing him do the type of work he used to carry out so seeing him I just had so much interest in surveying, because his whole life he was a surveyor as well, he worked for the government, so seeing my dad drove the interest in me in surveying’, she said.

Her parents may have had some glimpse of their daughters future very early on when they chose a name. Siotasia is a Tongan word which, when translated directly in English means ‘Geodesy’, the branch of mathematics that deals with the size and area of earth.

‘Siotasia is the surveying scientific word for Geodesy, which literally means, “I divide the earth”’, she explained.

Growing up, Siotasia was a very open-minded person, one who did not let the usual stereotypes hold back her ambitions. During her tertiary studies, she took up courses in land surveying, knowing very well she that was entering a field dominated by men. But as Siotasia explained, this challenge was part of the attraction. She wanted to prove that women could stand as tall as men in any position.

According to the young land surveyor, the development of new technology has empowered women to carry out tasks and jobs, previously dominated by men.

‘I believe surveying was a male dominated field because back then, the equipment and technology was not as good and easy as it is now. I think technology makes it easier for women to carry out the job then how it was back then’, she said.

Siotasia currently works at the Ministry of Land and Resources in Tonga, under the Geodic Network. She is involved in collecting data, marking pieces of land which have been changed due to climate change or other factors and locating existing marks on land. She uses this to setup and update Tonga’s Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) GPS.

Siotasia Malolo, Tonga

The talented woman from Tonga advises young girls to be bold and passionate about their interests, even though that interest area is currently male dominated, be the first to change that.

‘Be strong, believe in yourself and come out of your shell and don’t be so shy and nervous because everything’s possible, if men can do it, women can do it too’.

Geoscience, Energy and Maritime (GEM) Division