THE PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE
Ko e ‘Otua mo Tonga ko hoku tofi’a
The Kingdom of Tonga is known as the Friendly Islands. With 176 islands to explore, you will be spoiled for choice in the Kingdom of Tonga. Only 40 islands are inhabited, so it is easy to imagine yourself on one of the deserted islands and become friends with the local sea life.
Tonga is made up of four major island groups: Tongatapu and ‘Eua in the south, Ha’apai group in the centre and Vava’u group in the north, each have their own flavour. Further north you will find Niua Fo’ou and Niuatoputapu, two islands that make up the Niuas island group. Tonga is a unique Polynesian Kingdom where the King and his Royal Family and Nobles are similar to many European Monarchies.
Tonga’s motto is “Ko e ‘Otua mo Tonga ko hoku tofi’a”, “God and Tonga are my Inheritance”.
Come to Tonga for a truly relaxing holiday and experience the true South Pacific.
The Kingdom of Tonga’s history stretches back over 3000 years, beginning with the migration of the Lapita people from the mainland and islands of Southeast Asia. Tongan culture and customs began with these earliest of Polynesians, and many ancient traditions have continued respectfully through to the present day. The arrival of European explorers and navigators from the 17th century saw the introduction of Christianity, now an integral part of the modern Kingdom of Tonga. Experiencing the beautiful harmonies filling Tongan churches every Sunday is an essential experience for all visitors to the Kingdom. Across the ensuing centuries, Tonga’s authentic culture has continued to be respected and maintained across the pristine islands of this Polynesian archipelago.
CAPTAIN JAMES COOK
In 1773, the British explorer and navigator Captain James Cook visited Tonga’s southern islands of Tongatapu and ‘Eua. He returned in 1777 and spent two months exploring and charting the Tongan archipelago, with his legendary skill as a cartographer producing accurate charts still in regular use until recent times. During this voyage, a lavish feast for Cook and his men was presented by Chief Finau in the village of Lifuka in the Ha’apai island group. Cook was so impressed by Tongan hospitality he dubbed Tonga the ‘Friendly Isles’, not realising the amiable and social nature of the locals actually concealed a plan to raid his boats and kill Cook and his crew. The conspiracy was only foiled at the eleventh hour after a dispute between Finau and other village nobles, and Cook sailed away oblivious of his intended fate. Ironically his positive and complementary name for the Kingdom of Tonga remains in common use.
Tongan society is guided by four core values, all of which combine to ensure a genuine welcome to visitors to the Kingdom. The four core values are Fefaka’apa’apa’aki (mutual respect), Feveitokai’aki (sharing, cooperating and fulfilment of mutual obligations), Lototoo (humility and generosity) and Tauhi vaha’a (loyalty and commitment).
Family is the central unit of Tongan life. Older people command the most respect and each family member knows their role. A typical family unit may consist of adopted children, cousins and other distant relatives, alongside siblings and grandparents. Their respect for family is a reflection of the people’s love of the Tongan Royal Family.
FOOD & FEASTING
Expect to be well fed on your travels. Traditional Tongan favourites to try include ‘ota ‘ika (raw fish marinated in lemon and coconut cream), and lu pulu (corned beef and coconut milk wrapped in taro leaves). Food and feasting are an integral part of Tongan society, and the feasts of the Kingdom are renowned throughout the Pacific for their size and diversity.
Tonga’s climate is warm, tropical and welcoming. Temperatures are warm all year round and can get hot in the summer, but seldom reach above 35°C (95°F). Trade winds from the East-Southeast bring year-long cooling breezes in the late afternoon and early evening. Tropical rains fall from December through February, coinciding with the warmest summer months. However, there are no significant differences in temperatures between summer and winter. In general, the winter temperatures (April to September) are only slightly cooler than summer temperatures (November to February).