Tongan academic Dr Futa Helu, the founder of the Atenisi Institute, died last night.
The 75 year old had been ill for a number of years.
The Institute, which opened in 1966, initially provided night classes for public servants, but it became a secondary school and later a university.
Dr Helu was also a critic of the semi-feudal society which had developed in Tonga, as our correspondent, Mateni Tapueluelu, reports.
"He is seen as someone of academic background who is uncompared in Tonga. He knows classic history and he has been able to provide a philosophical and sociological justification for democracy in Tonga."