It is small enough to walk around and with only a handful people living there you always feel like it’s your own little island. I had the chance to learn about sustainable living, water conservation, eco toilets, carpentry, fishing, garbage management, and so many other things. I have tried delicious bread fruit in all styles and local food. A good amount of work, a good amount of culture immersion. The only thing from all activities I didn’t like was to carry a lot of beach sand from one side to the another hahaha but sometimes we got to do things we don’t like so much, right?
Most vegetation is derived from Indonesia and New Guinea, and its generic variety declines eastward across the Pacific. Local environmental differences and relative isolation have resulted in the evolution of numerous new endemic species. The introduction of new species from throughout the world has also markedly altered island flora. Only a small proportion of the total land area is arable and, outside New Zealand and Papua New Guinea, is devoted mostly to the cultivation of coconut and cassava. As much as two-thirds of the Pacific Islands’ total land area is forested.
The trilithon is oriented so that carvings on the top lintel indicate the shortest day, longest day and when the sun is directly above the equinox. Being able to track the seasons, just as we do today with calendars, would have been priceless expertise in a community dependent on subsistence farming and fishing. Tonga is still an independent monarchy, the only such example in the South Pacific. Unencumbered, by the animosity long-suffered by colonial nations, perhaps this is why it’s still customary in Tonga, to cheerfully welcome visitors from overseas. Several hundred distinct languages are spoken in the Pacific Islands; these are mostly Austronesian in origin.
In the village of Mu’a, the site of Tonga’s third ancient capital is Lapaha. This network of 22 royal pyramidal tombs or ‘langis’ date back to the 13th Century. They are platforms of earth, three steps high, supported by walls made of massive coral-limestone slabs. The stonework would have been an enormous-enough feat in itself, were it not also believed they were transported from the island of Wallis Futuna, located some 800km away. From Cook’s visit and arrival of the first Christian missionaries to the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh’s stopover in March 1970, Tonga proudly displays these moments, in plaques and monuments throughout the island.
From time to time, you will have to compromise on any one of many things you’d normally take for granted. If you come expecting hot water and internet to work seamlessly, like at home, you could be disappointed. While freshwater is plentiful and the meals are good but basic, restaurant food provisions can vary day to day. This change heralded homemade priest costume a period of unprecedented stability for the people of Tonga, ending millenia of tribal feuding over land and islands. Farmland was apportioned to its citizens on condition it could never be sold, only leased, or handed down through generations. The current royal lineage started when Taufa’ahau Tupou of Ha’apai, united the islands.