The Polynesian narrative or Polynesian mythology encompasses the oral traditions of the people of Polynesia, a grouping of Central and South Pacific Ocean island archipelagos in the Polynesian Triangle together with the scattered cultures known as the Polynesian outliers. Polynesians speak languages that descend from a language reconstructed as Proto-Polynesian, spoken in the Tonga - Samoa area around 1000 BC. Prior to the 15th century AD, Polynesian peoples fanned out to the east, to the Cook Islands, from there to other groups such as Tahiti and the Marquesas, their descendants discovered the islands from Tahiti to Rapa Nui, Hawai‘i and New Zealand. Latest research puts the settlement of New Zealand at about 1300 AD; the various Polynesian languages are all part of the Austronesian language family. Many are close enough in terms of vocabulary and grammar to permit communication between some other language speakers. There are substantial cultural similarities between the various groups in terms of social organisation, childrearing, as well as horticulture and textile technologies.
In some island groups, help is of fishing. There is a story of the marriage between Sky and Earth. There are stories of islands pulled up from the bottom of the sea by a magic fishhook, or thrown down from heaven. There are stories of voyages, migrations and battles, as one might expect. Stories about a trickster, Māui, are known, as are those about a beautiful goddess/ancestress Hina or Sina. In addition to these shared themes in the oral tradition, each island group has its own stories of demi-gods and culture heroes, shading into the firmer outlines of remembered history; such stories were linked to various geographic or ecological features, which may be described as the petrified remains of the supernatural beings. The various Polynesian cultures each have distinct but related oral traditions, that is, legends or myths traditionally considered to recount the history of ancient times and the adventures of gods and deified ancestors; the accounts are characterised by extensive use of allegory, parable and personification.
Orality has an essential flexibility. In an oral tradition, there is no fixed version of a given tale; the story may change within certain limits according to the setting, the needs of the narrator and the audience. Contrary to the Western concept of history, where the knowledge of the past serves to bring a better understanding of the present, the purpose of oral literature is rather to justify and legitimatise the present situation. An example is provided by genealogies, which exist in multiple and contradictory versions; the purpose of genealogies in oral societies is not to provide a'true' account, but rather to emphasise the seniority of the ruling chiefly line, hence its political legitimacy and right to exploit resources of land and the like. If another line should rise to ascendency, it was necessary to bestow upon the new line the most prestigious genealogy if this meant borrowing a few ancestors from the preceding dynasty; each island, each tribe or each clan will have their own version or interpretation of a given narrative cycle.
This process is disrupted when writing becomes the primary means to record and remember the traditions. When missionaries, anthropologists or ethnologists collected and published these accounts, they changed their nature. By fixing forever on paper what had been subject to infinite variation, they fixed as the authoritative version an account told by one narrator at a given moment. In New Zealand, the writings of one chief, Wiremu Te Rangikāheke, formed the basis of much of Governor George Grey's Polynesian Mythology, a book which to this day provides the de facto official versions of many of the best-known Māori legends; some Polynesians seem to have been aware of the danger and the potential of this new means of expression. As of the mid-19th century, a number of them wrote down their genealogy, the history and the origin of their tribe; these writings, known under the name of "pukapuka whakapapa" or in tropical Polynesia as "puta tumu" or "puta tūpuna” were jealously guarded by the heads of households.
Many were destroyed. In the 1890s, Makea Takau, a Rarotongan chief, ordered his tribe to burn all their family books, save his own; as a result, Makea Takau's version became the official history of the chiefly line, removing the possibility of dissent. At his request, extracts were published in the Journal of the Polynesian Society. Beckwith, Hawaiian Mythology, Yale University Press, 1940, as re-issued in 1970, University of Hawaii Press Buck, Sir Peter / Te Rangi Hiroa, Samoan Material Culture. Bishop Museum bulletin. Craig, D. Robert, Dictionary of Polynesian Mythology, 1989, Greenwood Press. Kirch, Patrick,'On the Road of the Winds' 2000, University of California Press. Malo, Hawaiian Antiquities, first published in English in 1898, available as Bernice P. Bishop Museum Special Publication 2, Second Edition, 1951
Cordyline fruticosa is an evergreen flowering plant in the family Asparagaceae. The plant is of great cultural importance to the traditional animistic religions of Austronesian and Papuan peoples of the Pacific Islands, New Zealand, Island Southeast Asia, Papua New Guinea, it is cultivated for food, traditional medicine, as an ornamental for its variously colored leaves. It is identified by a wide variety of common names, including ti plant, palm lily, cabbage palm, good luck plant; the reconstructed Proto-Malayo-Polynesian word for ti is *siRi. Cognates include Malagasy síly; the names in some languages have been applied to the garden crotons, which have red or yellow leaves. The cognates of Proto-Western-Malayo-Polynesian *sabaqaŋ have been applied to both garden crotons and ti plants. In the Philippines, they are known by names derived from the Proto-Austronesian *kilala, "to know", due to its use in divination rituals. Cognates derived from that usage include Tagalog sagilala. In New Zealand, the terms for ti were transferred to the native and related cabbage tree, as tī kōuka.
Cordyline fruticosa was listed as part of the families Agavaceae and Laxmanniaceae. Ti is a palm-like plant growing up to 3 to 4 m tall with an attractive fan-like and spirally arranged cluster of broadly elongated leaves at the tip of the slender trunk, it has numerous color variations, ranging from plants with red leaves to variegated forms. It is a woody plant with leaves 30 -- 5 -- 10-centimetre wide at the top of a woody stem, it produces 40–60-centimetre long panicles of small scented yellowish to red flowers that mature into red berries. Its original native distribution is unknown, but it is believed to be native to the region from Bangladesh, to Mainland Southeast Asia, South China, Island Southeast Asia, New Guinea, Northern Australia, it has the highest morphological diversity in New Guinea and is believed to have been extensively cultivated there. It was carried throughout Oceania by Austronesians, reaching as far as Hawaii, Rangitāhua, Rapa Nui at their furthest extent. A important type of ti in eastern Polynesia is a large green-leafed cultivar grown for their enlarged edible rhizomes.
Unlike the ti populations in Southeast Asia and Near Oceania, this cultivar is entirely sterile in the further islands of eastern Polynesia. It can only be propagated by cuttings from the rhizomes, it is speculated that this was the result of deliberate artificial selection because they produce larger and less fibrous rhizomes more suitable for use as food. Ti has many uses but it is most notable as one of the most important plants related to the indigenous animist religions of Austronesians, it is widely regarded as having mystical or spiritual powers in various Austronesian cultures. Among a lot of ethnic groups in Austronesia it is regarded as sacred. Common features include the belief that they can hold souls and thus are useful in healing "soul loss" illnesses and in exorcising against malevolent spirits, their use in ritual attire and ornamentation, their use as boundary markers. Red and green cultivars commonly represented dualistic aspects of culture and religion and are used differently in rituals.
Red ti plants symbolize blood and the ties between the living and the dead. They are widely used for traditional medicine and ornamentation throughout Austronesia and New Guinea, their ritual uses in Island Southeast Asia have been obscured by the introduction of Hinduism, Buddhism and Christian religions, but they still persist in certain areas or are coopted for the rituals of the new religions. In Philippine anitism, ti were used by babaylan when conducting mediumship or healing rituals. A common belief in Filipino cultures is. Among the Ifugao people of Northern Luzon, it is planted around terraces and communities to drive away evil spirits as well as mark boundaries of cultivated fields; the red leaves are believed to be attractive to spirits and is worn during important rituals as part of the headdresses and tucked into armbands. In the past, it was worn during ceremonial dances called bangibang, performed by both men and women for warriors who died in battle or through violent means, they are used to decorate ritual objects.
Among the Palaw'an people, it is planted in burial grounds to prevent the dead from becoming malevolent spirits. In Indonesia, red ti are used as in the Philippines. Among the Dayak, Kayan, Berawan and Mongondow people, red ti are used as wards against evil spirits and as boundary markers, they are used in rituals like in healing and funerals and are commonly planted in sacred groves and around shrines. The Dayak extract a natural green dye from ti. During healing rituals of the Mentawai people, the life-giving spirit are enticed with songs and offerings to enter ti stems which are reconciled with the sick person. Among the Sasak people, green ti leaves are used as part of the offerings to spirits by the belian shamans. Among the Baduy people, green ti represent the body. Both are used in rice planting ritual
Yam is the common name for some plant species in the genus Dioscorea that form edible tubers. Yams are perennial herbaceous vines cultivated for the consumption of their starchy tubers in many temperate and tropical world regions; the tubers themselves are called "yams", having numerous cultivars and related species. In parts of the United States and Canada, "yam" is sometimes used to refer to varieties of the unrelated sweet potato; the name, appears to derive from Portuguese inhame or Canarian ñame, which derived from West African languages during trade. The main derivations borrow from verbs meaning "to eat". In various places other unrelated root vegetables are sometimes referred to as "yams", including: In the United States, the sweet potato those with orange flesh, are referred to as "yams" In Okinawa, purple sweet potatoes may be called "yams" In New Zealand, the oca is referred to as "yam" In Japan, konjac corms are colloquially referred to as "yams" In Malaysia and Singapore the taro is referred to as a "yam"Yam has various common names across multiple world regions.
A monocot related to lilies and grasses, yams are vigorous herbaceous vines, providing an edible tuber. They are native to Africa and the Americas; some yams are invasive plants considered a "noxious weed", outside cultivated areas. Yam tubers vary in size from that of a small potato to over 60 g; some 870 species of yams are known, 95% of these crops are grown in Africa. Yam tubers can grow up to 15 m in length and 7.6 to 15.2 cm high. The tuber may grow into the soil up to 1.5 metres deep. The plant disperses by seed; the edible tuber softens after heating. The skins vary in color from dark brown to light pink; the majority of the vegetable is composed of a much softer substance known as the "meat". This substance ranges in color from pink in mature yams. Yam crop begins when whole seed tubers or tuber portions are planted into mounds or ridges, at the beginning of the rainy season; the crop yield depends on how and where the sets are planted, sizes of mounds, interplant spacing, provision of stakes for the resultant plants, yam species, tuber sizes desired at harvest.
Small-scale farmers in West and Central Africa intercrop yams with cereals and vegetables. The seed yams are bulky to transport. Farmers who do not buy new seed yams set aside up to 30% of their harvest for planting the next year. Yam crops face pressure from a range of insect pests and fungal and viral diseases, as well as nematode, their growth and dormant phases correspond to the wet season and the dry season. For maximum yield, the yams require a humid tropical environment, with an annual rainfall over 1500 mm distributed uniformly throughout the growing season. White and water yams produce a single large tuber per year weighing 5 to 10 kg. Despite the high labor requirements and production costs, consumer demand for yam is high in certain subregions of Africa, making yam cultivation quite profitable to certain farmers. Many cultivars of yams are found throughout the humid tropics; the most economically important are discussed below. Dioscorea rotundata, the white yam, D. cayenensis, the yellow yam, are native to Africa.
They are the most important cultivated yams. In the past, they were considered as two separate species, but most taxonomists now regard them as the same species. Over 200 varieties between them are cultivated. White yam tuber is cylindrical in shape, the skin is smooth and brown, the flesh is white and firm. Yellow yam has yellow flesh, caused by the presence of carotenoids, it looks similar to the white yam in outer appearance. The yellow yam has a shorter dormancy than white yam. The'Kokoro' variety is important in making dried yam chips, they are large plants. The tubers most weigh about 2.5 to 5 kg each, but can weigh as much as 25 kg. After 7 to 12 months' growth, the tubers are harvested. In Africa, most are pounded into a paste to make the traditional dish of "pounded yam," known as Iyan. D. alata, called "white yam", winged yam, water yam, purple yam, was first cultivated in Southeast Asia. Although not grown in the same quantities as the African yams, it has the largest distribution worldwide of any cultivated yam, being grown in Asia, the Pacific islands and the West Indies.
In Africa, the popularity of water yam is second only to white yam. The tuber shape is cylindrical, but can vary. Tuber flesh is watery in texture. Uhi was brought to Hawaii by the early Polynesian settlers and became a major crop in the 19th century when the tubers were sold to visiting ships as an stored food supply for their voyages. D. polystachya, Chinese yam, is native to China. The Chinese yam plant is somewhat smaller with the vines about 3 m long, it can be grown in much cooler conditions than other yams. It is grown in Korea and Japan, it was introduced to Europe in the 19th century, when the potato crop there was falling victim to disease, is still grown in France for the Asian food market. The tubers are harvested after about 6 months of growth; some are eaten right after harvesting and some are used as ingredients for other dishes, including noodles, for traditional medicines. D. bulbifera, the air
Cooking bananas are banana cultivars in the genus Musa whose fruits are used in cooking. They may be eaten ripe or unripe and are starchy. Many cooking bananas are referred to as plantains or green bananas, although not all of them are true plantains. Bananas are treated as a starchy fruit with a neutral flavour and soft texture when cooked. Bananas fruit all year round. Cooking bananas are a major food staple in West and Central Africa, the Caribbean islands, Central America, northern, coastal parts of South America. Members of the genus Musa are indigenous to the tropical regions of Southeast Asia and Oceania, including the Malay Archipelago and Northern Australia. Africa is considered a second centre of diversity for Musa cultivars: West Africa for some plantains and the central highlands for East African Highland bananas, most of which are cooked, although some are used to make beer; the term "plantain" is loosely applied to any banana cultivar, cooked before it is eaten. However, there is no botanical distinction between plantains.
Cooking is a matter of custom, rather than necessity, for many bananas. In fact, ripe plantains can be eaten raw. In some countries, where only a few cultivars of banana are consumed, there may be a clear distinction between plantains and bananas. In other countries, where many cultivars are consumed, there is no distinction in the common names used. In botanical usage, the term "plantain" is used only for true plantains, while other starchy cultivars used for cooking are called "cooking bananas". All modern true plantains have three sets of chromosomes. Many are hybrids derived from the cross of Musa acuminata and Musa balbisiana; the accepted scientific name for all such crosses is Musa × paradisiaca. Using Simmonds and Shepherds' 1955 genome-based nomenclature system, cultivars which are cooked belong to the AAB Group, although some belong to the AAA Group, others belong to the ABB Group. Fe'i bananas from the Pacific Islands are eaten roasted or boiled, thus informally referred to as "mountain plantains."
However, they do not belong to either of the two species that all modern banana cultivars are descended from. Plantains contain more starch and less sugar than dessert bananas, therefore they are cooked or otherwise processed before being eaten, they are always fried when eaten green. At this stage, the pulp is hard and the peel so stiff that it has to be cut with a knife to be removed. Mature, yellow plantains can be peeled like typical dessert bananas, they can be eaten raw, but are not as flavourful as dessert bananas, so are cooked. When mature, yellow plantains are fried, they tend to caramelize, they can be boiled, microwaved or grilled over charcoal, either peeled or unpeeled. Plantains are a staple food in the tropical regions of the world, ranking as the tenth most important staple food in the world; as a staple, plantains are treated in much the same way as potatoes and with a similar neutral flavour and texture when the unripe fruit is cooked by steaming, boiling or frying. Since they fruit all year round, plantains are a reliable all-season staple food in developing countries with inadequate food storage and transportation technologies.
In Africa and bananas provide more than 25 percent of the carbohydrate requirements for over 70 million people. Musa spp. Do not stand high winds well, however, so plantain plantations are liable to destruction by hurricanes. An average plantain is a good source of potassium and dietary fiber; the sap from the fruit peel, as well as the entire plant, can stain clothing and hands, can be difficult to remove. Linnaeus classified bananas into two species based only on their uses as food: Musa paradisiaca for plantains and Musa sapientum for dessert bananas. Both are now known to be hybrids between the species Musa Musa balbisiana; the earlier published name, Musa × paradisiaca, is now used as the scientific name for all such hybrids. Most modern plantains are sterile triploids belonging to the AAB Group, sometimes known as the "Plantain group". Other economically important cooking banana groups include the East African Highland bananas of the AAA Group and the Pacific plantains of the AAB Group. In countries in Central America and the Caribbean, the plantain is either fried, boiled or made into plantain soup.
In Ghana, West Africa, boiled plantain is eaten with kontomire stew, cabbage stew or fante-fante stew. The boiled plantain can be mixed with groundnut paste, pepper and palm oil to make eto, eaten with avocado. Ripe plantains can be fried and eaten with black eyed beans cooked in palm oil – a popular breakfast dish. Kelewele, a Ghanaian snack, is spiced ripe plantain deep fried in vegetable oil. In Nigeria, plantain is eaten fried or roasted. In Guatemala, ripe plantains are eaten boiled, fried, or in a special combination where they are boiled and stuffed with sweetened black beans. Afterwards, they are deep fried in corn oil; the dish is call
The coconut tree is a member of the palm tree family and the only living species of the genus Cocos. The term "coconut" can refer to the whole coconut palm, the seed, or the fruit, which botanically is a drupe, not a nut; the term is derived from the 16th-century Portuguese and Spanish word coco meaning "head" or "skull" after the three indentations on the coconut shell that resemble facial features. Coconuts are known for their versatility of uses; the inner flesh of the mature seed forms a regular part of the diets of many people in the tropics and subtropics. Coconuts are distinct from other fruits because their endosperm contains a large quantity of clear liquid, called "coconut milk" in the literature, when immature, may be harvested for their potable "coconut water" called "coconut juice". Mature, ripe coconuts can be used as edible seeds, or processed for oil and plant milk from the flesh, charcoal from the hard shell, coir from the fibrous husk. Dried coconut flesh is called copra, the oil and milk derived from it are used in cooking – frying in particular – as well as in soaps and cosmetics.
The hard shells, fibrous husks and long pinnate leaves can be used as material to make a variety of products for furnishing and decorating. The coconut has cultural and religious significance in certain societies in India, where it is used in Hindu rituals; the name coconut derives from seafarers during the 16th and 17th century for its resemblance to a head.'Coco' and'coconut' came from 1521 encounters by Portuguese and Spanish explorers with Pacific islanders, with the coconut shell reminding them of a ghost or witch in Portuguese folklore called coco. The specific name nucifera is Latin for "nut-bearing". Literary evidence from the Ramayana and Sri Lankan chronicles indicates that the coconut was present in South Asia before the 1st century BCE. Another early mention of the coconut dates back to the "One Thousand and One Nights" story of Sinbad the Sailor. Thenga, its Tamil name, was used in the detailed description of coconut found in Itinerario by Ludovico di Varthema published in 1510 and in the Hortus Indicus Malabaricus.
Earlier, it was called nux indica, a name used by Marco Polo in 1280 while in Sumatra, taken from the Arabs who called it jawz hindī, translating to "Indian nut". In the earliest description of the coconut palm known, given by Cosmos of Alexandria in his Topographia Christiana written around 545, there is a reference to the argell tree and its drupe. In March 1521, a description of the coconut was given by Antonio Pigafetta writing in Italian and using the words "cocho"/"cochi", as recorded in his journal after the first European crossing of the Pacific Ocean during the Magellan circumnavigation and meeting the inhabitants of what would become known as Guam and the Philippines, he explained how at Guam "they eat coconuts" and that the natives there "anoint the body and the hair with coconut and beniseed oil". The American botanist Orator F. Cook was one of the earliest modern researchers to propose a hypothesis in 1901 on the location of the origin of Cocos nucifera based on its current worldwide distribution.
He hypothesized that the coconut originated in the Americas, based on his belief that American coconut populations predated European contact and because he considered pan-tropical distribution by ocean currents improbable. Thor Heyerdahl used this as one part of his 1950 hypothesis to support his theory that the Pacific Islanders originated as two migration streams from the Canadian Pacific coast to Hawaii, on to Tahiti and New Zealand in a series of hops, another migration of a bearded and more advanced "white race" from South America via sailing balsa-wood rafts. Physical and genetic evidence, have overwhelmingly proven that Pacific Islanders originated from the eastward branch of the expansion of Austronesian peoples from Island Southeast Asia and Taiwan using more sophisticated outrigger canoe technology, not from the Americas. Genetic studies have identified the center of origin of coconuts as being the region between Southwest Asia and Melanesia, where it shows greatest genetic diversity.
Their cultivation and spread was tied to the early migrations of the Austronesian peoples who carried coconuts as canoe plants to islands they settled. The similarities of the local names in the Austronesian region is cited as evidence that the plant originated in the region. For example, the Polynesian and Melanesian term niu. A study in 2011 identified two genetically differentiated subpopulations of coconuts, one originating from Island Southeast Asia and the other from the southern margins of the Indian subcontinent; the Pacific group is the only one to display clear genetic and phenotypic indications that they were domesticated. The distribution of the Pacific coconuts correspond to the regions settled by Austronesian voyagers indicating that its spread was the result of human introductions, it is most strikingly displayed in Madagascar, an island settled by Austronesian sailors at around 2000 to 1500 BP. The coconut populations in the island show genetic admixture between the two subpopulations indicating that Pacific coconuts were brought by the Austronesian settlers
ʻEua is a smaller but still major island in the kingdom of Tonga. It forms a separate administrative division, it has an area of 87.44 km2, a population in 2011 of 5,016 people. ʻEua is a hilly island, the highest peaks are the Teʻemoa 312 m, with the grave of the soldier on top, the Vaiangina 305 m. The island is not volcanic, but was shaped by the rubbing of the Tonga plate against the Pacific plate, pushing ʻEua up and leaving the 7-kilometre-deep Tonga trench on the bottom of the ocean, a short distance towards the east; the soil of ʻEua is volcanic, as is that of Tongatapu, but only the top layer, deposited by eruptions of nearby volcanoes ten thousands years ago. Under it are the solid rocks of pushed-up coral. ʻEua counts many huge holes, not all of which have yet been explored. ʻEua is the only island in Tonga that has a river, had the only bridge in the kingdom until Vavaʻu built one. The river drains into the harbour near the capital of ʻOhonua. A unique feature is the shore between Tufuvai.
It is coral reef still close to the sea level. Many small tidal pools are named the ʻotumatafena, it is served by ʻEua Airport. Together with ʻAta, ʻEua was the first island to be created by Tangaloa, see Tangaloa And The Story Of How ‘Eua Island Was Created. ʻEua was put on the European maps by Abel Tasman who reached it and Tongatapu on 21 January 1643. He called it Middelburg Island, after the capital of the Dutch province of Zeeland, he did not go on land, but proceeded to the Hihifo district of Tongatapu, which he named Amsterdam Island after the capital of the Netherlands.'Eua was considered by early Missionaries as heathen as it was the rendezvous for whalers, a place that you can trade goods for guns, knives and gun powder. Aka arsenal, or armory of Tonga, as well as its granary. Captain Cook visited the island in 1773 and 1777; the Division'Eua is divided into two districts'Eua Motu'a, in the north, with six villages and population of 2,949'Eua Niuafo'ou, in the south, with 2,257 inhabitants in nine villagesThe nine villages of the southern district'Eua Niuafo'ou are all named after the villages of the island Niuafo'ou, was founded by former residents Niuafo'ou who had to leave the island in 1946 due to a volcanic eruption.
The northern district in contrast is Old'Eua. The southern village of Kolomaile's inhabitants however are the former inhabitants of the island of Ata, Tonga's southernmost island. 3.8 kilometres south-west of the southern tip of'Eua is the 35 acre island Kalau. The villages of the original inhabitants of ʻEua are all in the north Houma, Taʻanga, ʻOhonua, Tufuvai. Haʻatuʻa and Kolomaile are from the original inhabitants from ʻAta, who were resettled there in 1863; the villages just north of that up to Angahā, are from the inhabitants of Niuafoʻou who were resettled there in 1946. For information on ʻEua: eua-island-tonga.com
Tonga the Kingdom of Tonga, is a Polynesian country and archipelago comprising 169 islands, of which 36 are inhabited. The total surface area is about 750 square kilometres scattered over 700,000 square kilometres of the southern Pacific Ocean; the sovereign state has a population of 100,651 people, of whom 70% reside on the main island of Tongatapu. Tonga stretches across 800 kilometres in a north-south line, it is surrounded by Fiji and Wallis and Futuna to the northwest, Samoa to the northeast, Niue to the east, Kermadec to the southwest, New Caledonia and Vanuatu to the farther west. It is about 1,800 kilometres from New Zealand's North Island. Tonga became known in the West as the "Friendly Islands" because of the congenial reception accorded to Captain James Cook on his first visit in 1773, he arrived at the time of the ʻinasi festival, the yearly donation of the First Fruits to the Tuʻi Tonga and so received an invitation to the festivities. According to the writer William Mariner, the chiefs wanted to kill Cook during the gathering but could not agree on a plan.
From 1900 to 1970, Tonga had British protected state status, with the United Kingdom looking after its foreign affairs under a Treaty of Friendship. The country never relinquished its sovereignty to any foreign power. In 2010, Tonga took a decisive path towards becoming a constitutional monarchy rather than a traditional absolute kingdom, after legislative reforms passed a course for the first partial representative elections. In many Polynesian languages, including Tongan, the word tonga comes from fakatonga which means "southwards", as the archipelago is the southernmost group of the islands of central Polynesia; the word tonga is cognate to the Hawaiian region of Kona, meaning leeward in the Hawaiian language. An Austronesian-speaking group linked to the archaeological construct known as the Lapita cultural complex reached and inhabited Tonga around 1500–1000 BC. Scholars have much debated the exact dates of the initial settlement of Tonga, but Thorium dating confirms that the first settlers came to the oldest town, Nukuleka, by 888 BC, ± 8 years.
Not much is known before European contact because of the lack of a writing system, but oral history has survived and been recorded after the arrival of the Europeans. By the 12th century and the Tongan paramount chief, the Tuʻi Tonga, had a reputation across the central Pacific—from Niue, Rotuma, Wallis & Futuna, New Caledonia to Tikopia—leading some historians to speak of a Tuʻi Tonga Empire. In the 15th century and again in the 17th, civil war erupted; the Tongan people first encountered Europeans in 1616 when the Dutch vessel Eendracht, captained by Willem Schouten, made a short visit to trade. Came other Dutch explorers, including Jacob Le Maire. Noteworthy European visitors included James Cook in 1773, 1774, 1777; the US Exploring Expedition visited in 1840. In 1845, the ambitious young warrior and orator Tāufaʻāhau united Tonga into a kingdom, he held the chiefly title of Tuʻi Kanokupolu, but had been baptised by Methodist missionaries with the name Siaosi in 1831. In 1875, with the help of missionary Shirley Waldemar Baker, he declared Tonga a constitutional monarchy.
Tonga became a protected state under a Treaty of Friendship with Britain on 18 May 1900, when European settlers and rival Tongan chiefs tried to oust the second king. The treaty posted no higher permanent representative on Tonga than a British Consul. Under the protection of Britain, Tonga maintained its sovereignty, remained the only Pacific nation to retain its monarchical government; the Tongan monarchy follows an uninterrupted succession of hereditary rulers from one family. The 1918 flu pandemic, brought to Tonga by a ship from New Zealand, killed 1,800 Tongans, reflecting a mortality rate of about eight per cent; the Treaty of Friendship and Tonga's protection status ended in 1970 under arrangements established by Queen Salote Tupou III prior to her death in 1965. Tonga joined the Commonwealth of Nations in 1970, became a member of the United Nations in September 1999. While exposed to colonial pressures, Tonga has always governed itself, which makes it unique in the Pacific; as part of cost-cutting measures across the British Foreign Service, the British Government closed the British High Commission in Nukuʻalofa in March 2006, transferring representation of British interests to the High Commissioner in Fiji.
The last resident British High Commissioner was Paul Nessling. Tonga is a constitutional monarchy. Reverence for the monarch replaces that held in earlier centuries for the sacred paramount chief, the Tuʻi Tonga. Criticism of the monarch is held to be contrary to Tongan etiquette. King Tupou VI, his family, powerful nobles and a growing non-royal elite caste live in much wealth, with the rest of the country living in relative poverty; the effects of this disparity are mitigated by education and lan