Whenever news about language in the Pacific Islands is announced, I always like to share the story. Why? Well, it is because language is culture. If the language dies, the culture will die too. This is why it is so important to preserve languages- world wide.
Recently, the Matangi Tonga Online Website published a story about a new book called “Tonga: Fonua ‘a Kainga” (Tonga: the land of Kings, Chiefs and their Relatives). It was launched by Princess Mele Siu‘ilikutapu at the Queen Sālote College Hall on 3 July. A portrait of King Tupou VI is featured on the cover.
Princess Mele Siu‘ilikutapu, Tonga
The book reminds Tongans who they are and the social structure that they are living in, and notes that since Tonga was given to God by Tupou I at Pouono, Vava’u, for its protection and thereby stamped the national motto – God and Tonga are our Inheritance.
The Forward was written by Princess Siiu’ilikutapu, and eight chapters were written by Tongan scholars. These include:
- Tongan Values by Dr. ‘Ana Taufe’ulungaki
- Tongan Myths, the Tu’I Tonga Dynasty and the Tu’I Ha’atakalaua Dynasty by Dr. Siotame Havea
- The Tu’I Kanokupolu Dynasty by Mele Lupeha’amoa ‘Ilaiu
- Tupou I 1845-1893 by Lady ‘Eseta Fulivai Fusitu’a
- The era of Tupou II and Tupou III by ‘Eseta Fulivai Fusitu’a
- His Majesty Taufa’ahau Tupou IV 1918-2006 by Lady ‘Eseta Fulivai Fusitu’a
- Hereditary Leadership and the government by Nobel Tu’ivakano
- An era for changes and improvisation: King George Tupou V and King Tupou VI by Dr. ‘Ana Taufe’ulungaki
- Conclusion by Dr. ‘Ana Taufe’ulungaki.
Tonga’s history is quite fascinating. Captain James Cook was impressed with the islands because of the gracious and pleasant reception he was given by the natives during his first visit to the archipelago in 1773. He was even invited to a festival. Ironically, some historians believe that the chiefs actually wanted to kill Cook during the gathering but could not agree on a plan. Before they could act, Cook sailed away labeling the place, “Friendly Islands.”
Tonga consists of 171 islands, with only 45 inhabited. Although a Treaty of Friendship in May 1900 saw the islands become a British protected state, it is a constitutional monarchy. Tonga is the only country within the South Pacific to have never been colonized by a foreign power. In 1970, the protectorate status ended, and the country joined the Commonwealth of Nations in 1970, then the United Nations in 1999.