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Perspective of reporter Haas on Pousima Afeaki
Historical milestones
Pacific Citizens:
Lifting our game
List of oral archives
Career of a Parliamentarian
Coping with the depression
Putting things together in Ha’apai
Gifting fish in Ha’apai
Export bananas to NZ through the Produce board
Organising people to produce bananas
Respecting commoners
Respecting Queen Salote
Expanding secondary education options
Expanding education options
Andrew Afeaki arrives for education in NZ
Early Tongans at Victoria University of Wellington
King Dick, the British and Tonga
Closeness of annexation
Queen Salote and New Zealand
Maori and Tongan leaders contact
Lawyer into Parliament
Previous generation also in Parliament
Leader of the opposition, Pousima Afeaki
Working through government marketing then and private sector now
Son's perspective on a giant of a man Pousima Afeaki
Andrew Afeaki’ s hopes for his time
Lifiting our game - 2003



The Honourable Angelika Latufuipeka Halaevalu Mata’aho Napua ‘O-ka-lani Tuku’aho, daughter of HRH Prince ‘Ulukala Lavaka Ata, former Prime Minister, and HRH Princess Nanasipau’u Tuku’aho, with Wellington's Tongan community and New Zealand National Library representatives watch the dancing to celebrate the opening of the Siu Ki Moana Exhibition on 19 November 2005.

The exhibition, subtitled "Reaching Across the Pacific", about Tongan New Zealand Pathways 1870 -1950, displayed at the New Zealand National Library for three months to March 2006, following an earlier showing in Auckland. Tonga New Zealand 1950 educational resources, available here, were assembled by Anthony Haas as a foundation, particularly to assist social science teachers to build students' understanding.

Pictured here with Princess Angelika is the National Library Director of services for Maori, John Mohi and Siu Ki Moana researcher Lois Webster. The opening address from the Princess is published in full, below the following milestones.

Historical milestones:Tonga, and Pousima Afeaki

King George Tupou dies.
Tonga New Zealand trade route studied.
Diplomatic struggles continue.
Complex links with European and New Zealand colonisers


Political and social differences.

Problems from the outside world hit Tonga.
Tongans fight at Gallipoli alongside the Anzacs.
Pousima Afeaki born in 1914.
Salote becomes Queen of Tonga, 1918.

Technology, such as wireless communication and the cinema, come to Tonga.
Queen Salote visits Rotorua.
New Zealand attempts to place Island affairs more firmly in hands of Islanders.
Pousima Afeaki takes educational opportunities that open for Tonga.

Depression days reverberate around Tonga’s world.
Pousima Afeaki gets work with Japanese traders.
Copra from the coconut tree – the tree of life – continues to bring cash.

NZ and US forces in Tonga during World War 11.
Tongans join the NZ Maori Battalion.
Pousima Afeaki’s father continues his matapule role, as Afeaki for Ha’apai.
Pousima Afeaki in Tonga’s Defence Force at home.
Pousima Afeaki supports Queen Salote fundraising for scholarships.
Pousima Afeaki works as a locally trained lawyer in Tonga.
Andrew Afeaki born to Lisia and Pousima in Tonga in 1940, sent to Marist schools in Fiji.
Memory of Afeaki’s great uncle Siaki Lolohea period as a Parliamentarian recalled.

And beyond

King Taufa’ahau Tupou IV ascends to Tongan throne.
Pousima Afeaki starts 20 year plus career as a Tongan Parliamentarian.
Andrew Afeaki one of few Tongans at a NZ university.
Anthony Haas meets Andrew Afeaki at Victoria University.
Andrew introduces his father Pousima Afeaki to journalist Anthony Haas in Tonga.
Pousima starts to organize ‘Api Fo’ou Old Boys to grow bananas on Ha’apai.


I am most honoured to have been invited to open this exquisite and enlightening exhibition, Siu ki Moana, and to see so many friendly faces. I was born here and I am always happy to visit Aotearoa/New Zealand and to strengthen the long established links between our two countries.

Today this important occasion has provided a crucial opportunity for our people to reflect on the consolidation of vital relations which have been nurtured and developed over a particular 70-year period.

Tongans and the Maori people are Polynesian peoples, but they did not meet until recent times. Polynesians migrated from southeast Asia via Melanesia about 3500 years ago. Those who remained in Western Polynesia became Tongans and Samoans. Other Polynesians, who had originally settled in Eastern Polynesia came in groups to Aotearoa and are now know as Maori.

Various European explorers touched at both Tonga and Aotearoa/New Zealand in the 17th century, but Captain James Cook was the first real link between the two countries, both of which Cook visited on all of his three voyages into the Pacific in the 1770s. The difference in the two cultures (and climates!) is demonstrated by the differences in the gifts the Maori and Tongan chiefs gave Cook and his officers in exchange for European tools and artefacts.

To Europe, in the holds of Cook’s ships, went dozens of Maori cloaks, a large number of ornaments, and intricately carved objects - the artistry of which still amazes those who see them.

Aotearoa/New Zealand had many types of trees, as well as whalebone and greenstone for carving useful and decorative objects. Maori people, according to a later informant, did not drink kava and it was too cold in Aotearoa/New Zealand for coconut trees to thrive. Tongans made the best use of what they had, especially the coconut trees that grew profusely in their tropical climate.

In the holds of Cook’s ships, Maori artefacts snuggled next to objects from Tonga, such as intricately woven mosikaka baskets, similar to the one once owned by our own beloved Queen Salote, which is now in the Tonga National Museum. Like the Maori, Tongans made fishing hooks, necklaces, weapons, some of which were also in the holds of Captain Cook’s ships, and (like the Maori artefacts) ended up in museums throughout Europe.

The most important of the gifts that Cook and officers gave in exchange were tools of different kinds, which did not immediately replace local tools, but the style, delicacy and patterns of wooden carvings in particular were affected by the acquisition of European technology.


From 1880 until 1899
Between the three voyages of Captain Cook and 1880, the year in which this exhibition began, the Maori people and Tongans came to know of each other’s existence, knowledge that possibly confirmed their legends about other Polynesian people, through Christianity, official visits, education, the two World Wars, trade, employment and the acquisition of the government property at 'Atalanga.

One is consequently challenged with such vital questions as ”Who was the first Maori to visit Tonga?” “Who was the first Tongan to visit Aotearoa/New Zealand?” Possibly they were men who sailed on European ships as navigators or deckhands, in a journey resembling the flight of the bird upon which the name of this exhibition is derived.

In 1880 Tupou I appointed Shirley Waldemar Baker (a former missionary) as Prime Minister of Tonga. Five years later they founded the Free Church of Tonga, seceding from the Wesleyan Mission. Its first President was a New Zealander, Rev. Jabez Bunting Watkin who held that position for 40 years. Some of his children married Tongans and use the surname Uatikini.

In the late 1880s Tupou I’s great-grandson Prince Taufa’ahau (later Tupou II) spent some months with a private tutor in Auckland. As King, Tupou II made a number of visits to New Zealand, seeking legal assistance in connection with the Treaty and Agreement with Great Britain that he had unwillingly signed in 1900 and 1905. R N Moody, an Auckland lawyer, became Tupou II’s legal adviser.

First official visit 1900
The beginning of the 20th century was marked by the establishment of official contact between the two countries when R J Seddon, Prime Minister of New Zealand, his family, and an official party (including New Zealand parliamentarians) visited Tonga during 1900, where he met a Maori, Peter Maynard, who married a Tongan woman and had lived in Tonga for many years.

After this visit an increasing number of New Zealanders came to work for the Government of Tonga or to set up as traders, although the numbers declined during World War I and the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Princess Salote at school in New Zealand
In 1909 Princess Salote (then aged 9 years) arrived in Auckland to live with a family named Kronfield in Eden Crescent, Auckland and subsequently attended as a boarder at the Anglican Diocesan School for Girls (there being no Methodist boarding school in Auckland at the time). Later she regretted that her education was cut short at the end of 1914 because of World War 1.

Between the two World Wars
IN 1918 she was crowned as Queen of Tonga. In 1922 she visited New Zealand where the Waikato Maori greeted her as Polynesian royalty, and a well-known photograph was taken with Salote dressed in a Maori cloak and head-band, together with the Maori King, the Governor General, and some of the Tongans of her own party.

The acknowledgement of the relationship between the Maori and Tongans was repeated in every subsequent visit of the Queen to Aotearoa/New Zealand. Te Puea Herangi and Princess Piki were special guests at the double wedding of Her Majesty’s sons in June 1947. When Queen Salote was in Paris in 1953 some Maori friends brought food to the hotel where Salote and her party were staying.

Rev. Edwin Harkness came from New Zealand to serve in the Free Church of Tonga for about 10 years, until 1922. After J B.Watkin’s death in 1925 another New Zealander Rev. Robert Gordan-Kirgan was President of the Free Church from 1927 until about 1930. In 1954 the New Zealand Catholic Bishop Rodgers succeeded the French Bishop Blanc.

In 1926 New Zealand was represented at the centenary of the coming of Christianity to Tonga.

Other official visits
In 1933 Lord Bledisloe, Governor General of New Zealand, made an official visit to Tonga. Other governors-General visited Tonga: Sir Cyril Newall in 1942 and Lord Galway in 1943 and 1944,

Between the wars, some Tongans came to New Zealand for education or to live, many of who attended Wesley College, such as the retired Prime Minister Baron Vaea. Most had a papalangi Tongan mother. Gloria Rawlinson, the poet, who was born in Ha’apai in 1918, was brought to New Zealand in 1924. In 1938 Queen Salote’s youngest son came to study with a private tutor.

World War II
In 1939 queen Salote called for volunteers to join the Tonga Defence Force. Two New Zealand officers immediately arrived in Tonga to train the volunteers. More officers and other ranks followed. Indeed, there was a New Zealand presence in Tonga throughout the War.

Some Tongans were sent to Aotearoa/New Zealand to be trained as officers. ‘Alipate Tupou, appointed to the noble title of Vaea in 1942, joined the Royal New Zealand Air Force ferrying supplies in Catalina planes from New Zealand to the Solomons.

As may be expected, many friendships were formed between Tongans and New Zealanders during the War – and some marriages occurred.

Queen Salote was a great believer in education – for both boys and girls. She had sent her half-sister, Princess Fusipala, to attend the Anglican Diocesan School for Girls in Epsom 1921-1924. Her Majesty Queen Halaevalu Mata’aho attended St Mary’s convent school in Auckland. If the parents could not afford boarding school fees Queen Salote would write to the General Secretary of the Methodist Board of Missions in New Zealand asking if he could arrange accommodation for the Tongan girls with good Methodist families.

Good copra prices during, and after, the War enabled families to educate their children overseas especially in New Zealand, initially for secondary education followed by academic as well as technical tertiary education.

The appointment of Prince Tupouto’a-Tungi (now His Majesty) was as minister of Education in 1943 led to an increasing number of Tonga Government scholarships for overseas study and the consequent assumption of important positions in government, education and the churches by New Zealand-educated Tongans.

The New Zealand Government acceded to Prince Tupouto’a-Tungi’s request for New Zealand teachers to come to teach in Tongan government schools for a minimum of two years without losing any of their New Zealand benefits.

In 1952 the Government of Tonga bought ‘Atalanga, a house on a hill surrounded by nearly forty acres, in Epsom Auckland. Queen Salote used this property not only for members of the royal family but as a centre for all Tongans. She built hostels for Tongan female and male students in Auckland. By gathering Tongans at ‘Atalanga she ensured that they did not forget their Tongan roots and also kept a close eye on the progress of the students, and wanted to know why if a student did not do well.

Although no one was more conscious of rank and hierarchy when in Tonga, Queen Salote was inclusive in her social contacts in New Zealand. Her Maori friends, academics, representatives of churches, politicians, former papalangi residents of Tonga, and friends from her schooldays joined with the members of the Epsom Methodist church at Greenwood’s Corner (where the Queen was a regular attender) for afternoon tea and garden parties at ‘Atalanga.

It is not surprising then that there was a Tongan community in Auckland to keep vigil for the Queen when she was lying in state in government House in Auckland in December 1965 before she was taken home for burial in Tonga. The Waikato people also came to tangi for her. And thousands of distinguished and ordinary New Zealanders came to pay their respects to the Queen they had come to know and love.

Although this exhibition ends in 1950 I would like to acknowledge the New Zealand volunteers who came as teachers and Aid workers in later years. This gesture of commonality between two countries led to many friendships between individuals. For many Tongans Aotearoa/New Zealand became their second home. For many New Zealanders Tonga became their second home.

An increasing number of Tongans now living in Aotearoa/New Zealand were born here, and think of themselves and Tongan New Zealanders. They have contributed to this country as labourers, health care and community workers, sportsmen, educators, artists, musicians and entertainers. Some have contributed enormously to the churches in New Zealand as priests, ministers and lay people. Many of these settlers manage to visit Tonga from time to time for anniversaries and funerals, but their real home is now Aotearoa/New Zealand.

Through all these interactions Tongans and New Zealanders have come to know each other well and both Aotearoa/New Zealand and Tonga have benefited from these contacts.

And now it gives me immense pleasure and pride to declare open the Siu ki Moana Exhibition.

Geographic basics
Tonga is 770km south east of Fiji, 1190km north-east of Auckland and 3220km north-east of Sydney. Tonga's population is approximately 105,000.

Find out more

by searching the web, and selecting sites such as Government of Tonga, Tongan media, NZAID and other partners. But for historical views, litterature searches are appropriate.Next, foreword and preface


Source: Whitcombe Collection, Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington

Jack Whitcombe left New Zealand to teach in Tonga in about 1908. His sweetheart, Kate Woodhouse followed him there and they married in 1911. Their first baby, Takalesi (Douglas) is pictured here with a Tongan girl, Meletonga

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