The Pacific Islands News Association says the sudden death of Tavake Fusimalohi, the editor of Tonga's Kele'a newspaper, is a great loss to Pacific media.
In a statement PINA says Mr Fusimalohi was a great defender of the freedom of media in the region.
In October, he was presented with the Media Association of Solomon Islands Award for his contribution to media freedom in the Pacific.
The award had been announced at the PINA Convention in Honiara in May but could not be presented because Mr Fusimalohi was not allowed out of Tonga.
The organisation says in recognition of his commitment, the PINA Media Freedom Award will now become known as the TAVAKE FUSIMALOHI Media Freedom Award.