Baron Vaea began working for the government of Tonga in January 1945 following his departure from the Royal New Zealand Air Force. He served his aunt, Queen Salote, as Aide-de-Camp from 1953 until 1958.
Vaea became the Governor of Ha'apai in 1960, a position he held until 1968. He became Tonga's first High Commissioner to the United Kingdom from 1969 until 1972.
He was appointed to numerous government ministerial portfolios in the Tongan Cabinet beginning in 1972. Vaea was appointed as Tonga's first Minister of Labour and Commerce, and Industries, which he held from 1972 until 1991. As labour minister, Vaea was responsible for the construction of the Small Industries Centre in Ma'ufanga.
Vaea was simultaneously appointed Minister of Agriculture and Forestry in 1975, a position which he continued to hold until his official retirement from government in 2000. Additionally, Vaea also headed the Tongan Ministries of Civil Aviation, Tourism, Education and Marine and Ports, at various points during his career.
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