Jaedyn respect), Feveitokai’aki (sharing, cooperating and fulfilment of mutual

Jaedyn Pavao

Mr. Puleloa

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Honors English 11

9 January 2018

Oceania: Life and Literature of Tonga

Located in the Southwestern Pacific
Ocean stands the profound sovereign country of Tonga, also known as the
Friendly Islands and known officially as the Kingdom of Tonga. This archipelago
consists of more than 170 volcanic and coral islands that are divided into
three groups based on their location. The south islands are called Tongatapu
while the center islands are called Ha?apai and the north islands are known as
Vava?u.  Like many other places, Tonga
has its history and culture, political and social issues, and their own
literature that was produced based on their people’s past and values.

The people of Tonga are guided by four
core values. According to the website “Kingdom of Tonga,” the four 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).” Just like the Hawaiian people that live by
certain values and know their place in their family, Tongans do too. “Today,
many Tongans still live in villages, especially in the outer islands, and
traditional village life has not changed greatly from earlier days.” Not only
do they preserve the same living style, Tongans continue to do traditional
practices. As stated on the “The Kingdom of Tonga Today” website,

“Tonga’s traditional dances include
the Me’etu’upaki, ‘Otuhaka, Ma’ulu’ulu, Ula, Tau’olunga, Kailao and Soke, and
most famous is the Lakalaka, a dance practised throughout the kingdom.
Expressing stoies of Tongan history and legends, the Lakalaka is performed by
both men and women, sometimes in spectacular groups of up to several hundred.
Dancers step their feet and move their arms in intricate gestues, and
decoration includes beautiful bracelets, neck garlands and the tekiteki (a
feather headpiece).”

Tongan people keep their culture alive in many different ways and another way
is through weaving mats. According to “The Kingdom of Tonga Today,” “Like tapa
making, mat weaving is an everyday part of Tongan life. Women gather in small
groups weaving, and sing or talk together to keep themselves inspired. Mats are
the most treasured possessions in Tongan households…” As readers can tell, it
is a priority for the Tongan people to perpetuate their culture and some may
wonder about how their culture continues to
thrive and how their monarchy came about.

            In 1616 Dutch navigators, Wilhelm
Schouten and Jacob LeMaire discovered the northern most islands of Tonga, the
Niuas. The Dutch continued to explore the Tongan archipelago in 1643. Dutch
explorer, Abel Tasman, went to ‘Ata, ‘Eua, and Tongatapu.  In 1773 and 1777, Captain James Cook visited
the southern islands and began charting the Tongan archipelago. He was pleased
with the hospitality of their people and called them the Friendly Isles. Little
did he know, the Tongan people were planning on raiding his boats, killing him,
and killing his crew. According to “The Kingdom of Tonga Today,” “The northern
island group Vava’u was discovered in 1781 by Spanish navigator, Don Francisco
Antonio Mourelle, commander of the ship La Princesa” (Kingdom of Tonga). After
claiming the islands in the name of Spain, tension continues to grow between
Europeans and Tongans. Eventually Mourelles crew was killed except for a young
boy, William Mariner. This young boy learned the Tongan language and lived a
Tongan life, and later wrote a book. According to “The Kingdom of Tonga Today,”
 “Mariners book ‘An Account of the
Natives of the Tongan Islands’ is now recognized as a significant insight into
early Tongan life, customs and culture” (Kingdom of Tonga). With the arrival of
European explorers also came a quick pace of changes and the teachings of
Christianity, which is still part of the Kingdom today.

            Tonga is a sovereign country
currently ruled by King Tupou VI. According to Latukefu, Sione, and Sophie Foster, “Between 1799 and 1852 Tonga went
through a period of war and disorder. This was finally ended by Taufa’ahau, who
was converted to Christianity in 1831 by the Methodist missionaries”
(Britannica). In 1845, he took the title King George Tupou I and was the
reigning king from 1845-1893. During this time, Tonga became an independent
country, Christianity spread throughout the islands, and Tonga was recognized
for its independence by Germany in 1876, Great Britain in 1879, and the United
States in 1888. When George I passed away, he was succeeded by his great
grandson George II who ruled until 1918. In 1900, the kingdom became a British
protectorate in efforts to keep German advances away and in 1918 Queen Salote
Tupou III became the reigning ruler. She ruled until 1965 then was succeeded by
her son, Prince Tupouto’a Tungi, who rules as King Taufa’ahau Tupou IV.

            Although Tonga has a thriving
kingdom, they face political and social issues like many other places. According
to Latukefu, Sione, and Sophie

“In 1970 Tonga regained full
control of domestic and foreign affairs and became a fully independent nation
with the Commonwealth. A pro-democracy movement took shape in the late 20th
century, and, from the 1990s, reform advocates won significant representation
in the legislature. The government, however, resisted change. Pro-democracy
leaders, including ‘Akilisi Pohiva, a member of the legislature, were
occasionally arrested and imprisoned” (Britannica).

1983 to 1991, the government sold about 6,600 passports to foreign nationals
resulting in a $30 million profit. By 2001, the money had lost all of its value
due risky investments including a lawsuit against Bogdanoff in U.S. courts. (MORE INFORMATION TO BE ADDED)

            Happening now is the review of
Tonga’s human rights record. According to Tonga’s Leading News Website, “Tonga,
which has dropped over ten places in the World Press Freedom Index over the
last year, has not met UN reporting obligations for some core human rights
treaties, or cooperated with international human rights mechanisms, according
to the Joint Submission of the UN Country Team for Tonga for the UN
compilation” (Matangi Tonga). To be specific, certain rights will be reviewed
including women’s rights to health and education, the practice of child
marriage, gender discrimination in terms of wage and work conditions, and the
few women representations in parliament. Those are just a few problems being
reviewed and will also be followed by creating a society with access to
healthcare, control of sexual violence, and creating inclusive communities for LGBTI