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Tonga, unique among Pacific nations, never completely lost its indigenous governance. The archipelagos of "The Friendly Islands" were united into a Polynesian kingdom in 1845. Tonga became a constitutional monarchy in 1875 and a British protectorate in 1900; it withdrew from the protectorate and joined the Commonwealth of Nations in 1970. Tonga remains the only monarchy in the Pacific.
Getting started with Tonga research
Understanding the history of Tonga is critical. Click here to access guidelines for doing Tongan research. When you are done, click on the upper left hand arrow of the tool bar to return to this page.
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- To learn about the noble, chieftan, and royal lines, click here for a website established by Christopher Bayers of the UK. Mr. Bayers also provides Niu'atuputapu lines of those who ruled the Tongan island of 'Eua.
- German and Tonga government relationship
- BYU Research Guide for Fiji, Samoa, Tahiti, Tonga
- Pacific Island Guide to Family History Research
Did you know?
That the marriage of Sinaitakala Ilangi Leka, Tu'i Tonga Fefine of Tongatapu, to the Fijian chief, Tapu'osi from the village of Vasivasi, Fiji shifted the political alliance from Samoa to Fiji. Sinaitakala Illangi Leka was the daughter of Uluakimata the 1st, also known as Tele'a, and his Ma'itaki wife [premier wife], Mataukipa, daughter of Kau'ulufonua Hua, Chief of Mataliku. Uluakimata the 1st was the 29th Tui Tonga [King] reigned in Tonga as King and is calculated to have started his reign about 1561.
Taxation Tongan Style. Taxation took three basic forms.
1. Taxation by tribute was given twice a year. The first was the first fruit 'inasi ceremony that was a form of prayer to the gods for ample crops in the forthcoming season. The second 'inasi ceremony was a tribute where district chiefs occasionally determined the amount and kind of items demanded from their district landowners. At this second tribute offering, the choice of tribute was often left up to the individual. However, if the tribute was deemed lacking, that individual could find his or her property taken away. Therefore, the second 'inasi tribute ceremony was often termed a "gift of respect" and resulted in individual tax payment greater than was expected.
2. Taxation by corvee which means enforced labor. Major efforts were carried out through corvee and were essentially carried out on larger landholdings of important chiefs. At times, two or three times a week, laborers from inferior chief's entourage would work for other chiefs to plant and work the plantations such as for the Tu'i Kanokupolo.
3. Taxation by fono was a public meeting and compulsory. Decrees, advise, and warnings were issued at these meetings. Tribute might be in demanding food for special occassions such as feasts or burial ceremonies. A fono could also be used to organize and appoint work details. Chiefs seldom attended these fono events and sent their matapule advisors. Lesser chiefs would hold smaller fono meetings for their tenants. There was no give and take discussions at fonos. Essentially the work was accomplished by those under the rule of the lesser chiefs.
Things you can do
In order to make this wiki a better research tool, we need your help! Many tasks need to be done. You can help by:
- Gifford, Edward Winslow. Tongan Society, Bernice P. Bishop Museum, Bulletin 61, Bayard Dominick Expedition, Publication Number 16, Honolulu, Hawaii, Published by the Museum 1929, Kraus Reprint Co., New York, 1971.
- Ferdon, Edwin N.Early Tonga As the Explorers Saw It 1616-1810, The University of Arizona Press, Tucson, Arizona.