A new cultural heritage society is being formed in Tonga. Perhaps, long overdue, the Tonga Heritage Society is a group of interested people with the aim of helping to identify, preserve and promote the cultural and natural heritage sites and artifacts of Tonga.
The group includes Tongan business people, academics and “concerned citizens.” It is anticipated that the formalized society would be able to respond to some immediate concerns for the future of some heritage sites. In fact, one of the impetus for the formation of such a group was the recent threat to the Sia Heu Lupe complex at Popua where the site is endangered by a settlement subdivision.
It is planned that the Tonga Heritage Society will have an advisory board of academics from Tonga, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Hawai’i and the US. It is hoped that the group will be of service to the government, the people of Tonga, and also be a source of knowledge for the tourism industry.
“The significance of the Sia Heu Lupe and other remarkable structures are the subject of ongoing research and enrich our lives. We are only just beginning to understand the vastness and complexity of Tonga’s ancient Maritime Empire, the remarkable voyaging, the depth and significance of the chiefly culture and the immense earthworks and stone structures involved.”
Additionally, Egan states that when the Tonga Heritage Society is formalized it would also be able to encourage the establishment of a much-needed national museum in Nuku’alofa- the capital of Tonga.