The History of Tonga Part 1

The History of Tonga Part 1

Tu’i Tonga Line and History of Tonga

The origins and history of the Tu’i Tonga is commonly misinterpreted and incorrectly recorded by the early missionaries. These errors are further perpetuated by modern day Academia. This article, and subsequent articles in this series, focuses on sharing over 17 years of research I have completed in uncovering the history of the Tu’i Tonga line by following their settlements throughout Tonga. The majority of this work was completed in 1997. I have used the techniques shared in my previous article on how to uncover ancient Polynesian history, as well as my direct geneological connections.

Arrival of First Tongans


‘Ata the island in which the first settlers arrive before making their first settlement on Tongatapu.

The first Tongans arrived on the island of ‘Ata directly from the Americas. ‘Ata is a common name found throughout Central and South America.There were three main tribes/clans Kohai, Koau, and Momo.Soon after they migrated to Tongatapu.


First Tongan Settlement


Hokula, the first settlement of the Kohai, Koau, and Momo clans on Tongatapu.

The first settlement on Tongatapu was called Hokula and is located between the villages of Fatumu and Ha’asini. There are several names in the area that are directly related to the ancient Mayans in America that were used in Lavengatonga with Hokula, Kali, Kanakana, Hamula. Ha’asini were the names Fonua’uha, Liha, Koane, Kali, and Langakali. In Fatumu the names ‘Ahau and Nahau which in the Americas refer to High Priests and/or High Chiefs, and referred to Astronomical knowledge as well.

Hokula  became the first harbor in Tongan history this location in Tonga is Halaika beach. A star was also named Hokula, this star is a part of the Orion Constellation. The harbor/port of Tofua Islands was also called Hokula, all referencing this first location on Tongatapu.

The most education one can get in ancient Tonga is the education from a mother (Kali). This was a critical part of Tongan cultural education, where a child lay on his/her mother’s arm and the mother whispers the cultural lessons and secret to a successful life.
The Kali (the headrest) is a representation of a mother’s arm, the most important education one can receive.

‘Ahau has many references to Ancient Mayan culture especially in astronomical knowledge.  ‘Ahau is also the name of the residence of the Taulas, the priests of Tonga’s ancient religion, the representatives of Hikule’o. Hikule’o is the God of Pulotu (the Spirit World). The ancient Tongan priest Taula Kautai was the priest who cured the boy Maeakafa (end of the 1700’s). After curing Maeakafa, Taula Kautai renamed the boy Taufa’ahau. The boy was named after Taula Kautai’s residence in Mu’a, named ‘Ahau;  a direct reference to 1.Tonga’s first settlement, 2. Tonga’s ancient religion, and 3. the Americas from which Tongans originated. Taufa’ahau would  become King George Tupou I, the forefather of the current line of kings in Tonga. The names and history of the first settlers and ancient religion of Tonga are still part of the name of the current kings of Tonga.

Liha, one of the ancient Tongan names refers to the beginning of all things. Two months in the ancient Tongan calendar have the word Liha. The first month in the ancient calendar is called Lihamu’a this is when the weather warms up in Tonga and is the time of the Polopolo or first fruit offered to the Tu’i Tonga.


The sixth month is called Lihamui which signals the cooling of the weather in Tonga and is the time of the ‘Inasi or tax/tribute to the Tu’i Tonga.

The word Kali is directly related to one of the greatest pyramids on the American continent.Kali has many meanings but the most important is that references the most important form of education that one can receive, the first schooling one receives in Ancient Tonga.


Second Tongan Settlement:

  1. The Ha’a  Kohai (Priestly Tribe) also referred to as the Ha’a Liha settled to the west in Pulotu. One of my family’s
    The three tribes (Kohai, Koau, and Momo) first settled in Hokula then they separated to three settlements. Kohai went to Pulotu, Koau went to Lolofonua, and Mom0 went to Loto Langi. 

    properties called ‘Ahau referencing the ancient religion and another Uncle owns property called Pulotu referencing this Ha’a Kohai’s settlement. Both of these properties are in Mu’a. Also my Uncle currently holds the title Kautai a priestly title of Tonga’s ancient religion.

  2. Lolofonua to the east is where the Koau tribe settled. The Koau tribe were also known as the Ha’a Maui, they were Kaivai, the navigators. As oral history states, “Na’e ‘alu ‘a Maui ‘o Siu Fonua ‘o ne ma’u ai ‘a Tonga.” Europeans have translated this to say Maui went fishing and caught Tonga, placing the fishing of fish and the discovery of Tonga (Polynesian Islands) as two separate events/purposes. When the better translating is to say, that Maui went fishing for land, in which found Tonga and the Polynesian Islands. The reference to Maui’s fish hook was used to pull up Tonga and the Polynesian Islands, is a reference to Maui’s Hook the Constellation rather than a physical hook. The use of this constellation in the shape of a hook to navigate the ocean and discover islands. I have an Uncle named Maui a traditional family name traced back to the Koau tribe.

    One of my art pieces showcasing the constellation called Maui’s Hook (Scorpio) one of the main constellations used by the Maui Clan to find Tonga and islands throughout Polynesia.
  3. The Ha’a Momo settled in the center of Tonga or Loto Tonga. Their settlement was called Loto Langi. The Ha’a Momo were known as the kingly clan or line and were referred to as Tangaloa, who lived for hundreds and possibly thousands of years before the time of ‘Aho’eitu and the Tu’i Tonga line.

We now come to the story of ‘Aho’eitu. Leading to this time the government and kingly title was under the name Tangaloa. It is important to note that many of the errors made in understanding ancient Tongan and Polynesian history also applies to the story ‘Aho’eitu the first Tu’i Tonga. The best way to interpret ‘Aho’eitu’s story and many of the Ancient stories of Polynesia is through the Ancient practice of “Heliaki”. This ancient practice is best understood by understanding parables from the Bible. That is Heliaki, just like parables, are rooted in symbolism and metaphoric expressions. Too many times a literal interpretation is taken and this overlooks the overall meaning and purpose of specific events in the stories. These stories can only be heard or seen for what they are if you understand the culture and history of where the stories originates. The entire story of ‘Aho’eitu is filled with Heliaki/Parables references, here are a  couple simple examples in story:

  1. Tangaloa Descended on the Toa Tree. This is a reference to a specific location on Langi which was called Toa, rather than Tangaloa literally going down the tree. It was at this location that Tangaloa came down to meet ‘Aho’eitu’s mother ‘Ilaheva on Talakite Island, now known as Mata’aho Island.
  2. ‘Aho’eitu climbs the Toa tree to Langi. The term Toa once again is referring to the specific location in Langi where ‘Aho’eitu ascended to Langi. ‘Aho’eitu entered by the same place where his father Tangaloa descended in order to meet his mother.
  3. Brothers attacking, killing, and eating ‘Aho’eitu. This is not a literal reference to the killing and eating of ‘Aho’eitu. These Heliaki references are to show the improper actions ‘Aho’eitu’s brothers conducted themselves, unknowingly to their own brother.

After ‘Aho’eitu’s brothers killed him in Langi (on Tongatapu), their father Tangaloa established and formed the foundation for the Tu’i Tonga Government in Langi, before they descended from Langi to the rest of Tonga.


Some of the events involved with ‘Aho’eitu becoming the first Tu’i Tonga are explained below:


  1. Lua he Kumete. After being murdered by his brothers, ‘Aho’eitu’s brothers ate him. When their father Tangaloa heard this he commanded ‘Ahoeitu’s brothers to throw-up into the Kava Bowl. This part of the story symbolizes that ‘Aho’eitu’s brothers forfeited their inherited rights to leadership and governance.
  2. Tokoto ki a Fuakava. The act of formally laying down themselves to the promise that they and all their descendants will serve ‘Aho’eitu and his descendants. A location in Langi was named after this historical event


This now established certain titles and responsibilities to all of Tangaloa’a sons for the Tu’i Tonga Government:


  1. ‘Aho’eitu and his heirs will become the Tu’i Tonga and Fale ‘Uluaki
  2. Talafale (eldest son) and his heirs will become the Tu’i Fale Ua to serve ‘Aho’eitu and his descendents.
  3. Tu’i LolokoTu’i Folaha, Matakehe, Maliepo and their descendants became members of the Fale Fa to serve ‘Aho’eitu and his descendants. The Fale Fa was effectually was the parliament for the Tu’i Tonga government.


The designations of their positions at the Kava circle of the Tu’i Tonga were also established as well:


  1. ‘Aho’eitu as Tu’i Tonga was designated the “Olovaha” and will sit at the head of the circle. If there is a kava ceremony and the Tu’i Tonga is not present, the “Olovaha” will be filled by the Tu’i Fale Ua and when the kava is served his name will not be called out i.e. his kava will be delivered in silence.
  2. To the left of the “Olovaha” Tu’i Folaha and Maliepo were assigned to sit
  3. To the right of the “Olovaha” Tu’i Loloko and Matakehe were assigned to sit.


The history and knowledge behind the design and astronomical significance of the Kava Bowl is one of the many pieces of Polynesia’s history that was lost. ‘Aho’eitu’s brothers (and their descendants) covenanted to ‘Aho’eitu (and his descendants) over the Kava bowl. This is why Kava is such an important aspect of Tongan/Polynesian culture. It is interesting that since the first Tu’i Tonga ‘Aho’eitu there has never been another Tongan King with the name ‘Aho’eitu until today where Tupou VI’s first name is ‘Aho’eitu, as well as the current Crown Prince of Tonga who also has the first name of ‘Aho’eitu.


History of Tonga
1. Popua 2. ‘Aho’eitu’s Langi named Hifo-mei-Langi, 3. Mata’aho Island formerly known as Talakite Island important aspects of the history if Tonga.

Places in Langi named after the story of ‘Aho’eitu:


  1. Talakite (Mata’aho)
  2. Holoi’ufi (Va’epopua)
  3. Tulitulihake
  4. Tolopou
  5. Totoate
  6. Tukungafata
  7. Tu’utu’u
  8. Tau’angahoi
  9. Kaipeatala
  10. Manakotala
  11. Malamate
  12. Tokotokiafuakava


In a previous article, we discussed the relationship of Tangaloa, Langi and Fehokonahau tracing the lines of Kings to track the movement and settlements of the Tu’i Tonga. After 17 years of digging into my genealogical roots, I have compiled and Tu’i Tonga timeline that I feel is the most complete and correct to date of any existing Tu’i Timeline:

Side by side the Tu’i Tonga lists as compiled by the Catholic Church, Shirley Baker, and Tevita H. Fale. (Click on Image if blurry to see the text clearly)
The three settlements of the Kohai, Koau, and Momo tribes when they left their first settlement, Hokula. Also listed are the 6 Tu’i Tonga settlements throughout Tonga.
The three ancient kingly lines in Tonga with their respective parliaments/Fale Fa and the modern kingly line of the current Monarchy in Tonga.


First Tu’i Tonga Settlement- “Tonga” 450 AD – 510 AD


  1. ‘Aho’eitu
  2. Lolofakangalo
  3. Fanga’one’one – moved the settlement from Tonga to Tali-ki-Tonga.


There were several locations in Tonga (the first Tu’i Tonga settlement) that were named and patterned after Langi (Tangaloa’s Settlement/Residence). These names are:


  1. Langi
  2. ‘Ahau
  3. Toa
  4. Fetoa
  5. Toafa
  6. Pangai
  7. Tau
  8. Kau
  9. Pau
  10. Ha’atu’ukau
  11. ‘Apifo’ou
  12. ‘Apitaki
  13. Loloko
  14. Tefisi
  15. Totoate


Important Events


‘Aho’eitu’s Langi was named Hifo-mei-Langi. In the Mid 1700’s Tu’i Tonga Pau’s sister Siulongo-ki-Popua settled on Hifo-mei-Langi. Siulongo-ki-Popua wanted Siumafua’uta’s name (Lomu’eiki’s daughter). So they exchanged names i.e. Siulongo-ki-Popua became Siumafua’uta and Siumafua’uta became Siulongo-ki-Popua.

When Tu’i Tonga Fanga’one’one left Tonga, Tonga was renamed Tukutonga a name this location has retained to this day

In 1942 ‘Aho’eitu’s Langi, Hifo-mei-Langi, was dismantled and the materials were used to build Faua Warf. Later, all remaining materials were used to fill in Fakafanua’s residence in Ma’ufanga, and the residence was named Siumafua’uta.

24 thoughts on “The History of Tonga Part 1

  1. Shaun

    Interesting article. It would be more interesting if there were some dates and some sort of bibliography linking to some sort of evidence to support your claims.

    I’m a history buff and it’s always more convincing when some sort of proof is offered

    1. tualaufale

      Shaun thank you for your comments. Please reference my article below for the manner in which my research was conducted. This research is based on a combination of Oral History, Geneology, and the combining of the previously stated to Major names of geographical locations. Specific dates are difficult when tracing history that was not recorded and all this research was done by myself while I lived in Tonga so this is my original work and bibliographies not needed as this is my original work. Article Link:

    2. Manatu Mafi

      Thank you for sharing, it does shed some light to all the stories I heard when I was growing up; what they really meant. Here are also some interested fact that come from the Book Of Mormon about a group of people who left in a boat and now believed to be the Polynesian ,

    3. Thank you for the new light shed on the metaphoric language used in the history of Tonga. As a Tongan, we grow up listening to the elders speak using the formal Tongan language that is filled with parables and other figures of speech and it makes sense. No wonder most historians who did not know the language used the literal meaning. Don’t need a foreigners so called reference to tell me this is true.

  2. So you’re saying Polynesians come from America? When I studied anthropology all the linguistics, biological, archaeological and anthropological evidence point at an Asian origin. Even the ancestral home of Pulotu was in the west. Have you any evidence?

    1. tualaufale

      This research is based on the religious, cultural, governmental, social, and scientific knowledge held by Tongans/Polynesians. One case in point, we find that the Polynesians and Mayans had the same astronomical knowledge there are other connections.The purpose of this website is to express the various aspects of the findings of my research. So is there more information? yes. This will be disclosed over time including a future article that ties Tongans to civilizations around the world (including the Americas) regarding mound building.

      1. Jeremy

        Hi guys, ancient origins is hard make a plain one clear line statement that Polynesians are of one race. There is research available on the net that connects ancient Polynesians with the Americas. Along side that, there is supporting evidence of an Asian connection . 2 separate people’s meet in the middle after many years they become become the unique polynesian line. A combination of both asian and American ancient ancestry. Research kumara, polynesian genetics in Brazilian native, rongorongo in easter island, megalithic structures easter island (new zealand) etc there’s so much more

  3. Ernie Fisher

    Interesting article. I would say your proof of connection between Tonga and Central/South America is somewhat suspect. Basing that connection on one word Is not sufficient proof for such a claim. You will find locations around the globe with those with the word ata in them. The fact that you tie the origins to central/South America seems to me an indication that you may be a member of the Mormon faith, is this assumption correct? Mormons for decades have attempted to connect Polynesians with their Book of Mormon in an attempt to validate claims put forth by their “prophets”. This contradicts DNA evidence and known artifacts demonstrating a southeast Asian origin, not Central/South America.
    For more insight you can visit:

    1. tualaufale

      As I expressed in an earlier response. This connection is based on religious, cultural, governmental, social, and scientific knowledge held by Tongans/Polynesians. Are there artifact, DNA, and linguistical ties to other places in the world? Naturally, due to the extensive voyaging of Polynesians, they would adopt linguistic, artifacts, and of course inter-marry i.e. DNA. I have spent over 30 years of research on the religious, cultural, governmental, social, and scientific knowledge of Polynesians that has lead me to this conclusion (not a couple words). This was the same approach that led me to conclude that Polynesians were great voyagers, and at the time scientists said I was crazy to think that Polynesians (savages) were master navigators. So once again, I express something that scientists disagree with and I am fine with that, they were wrong once about Polynesians they may be wrong again. More information will be dispensed as we move forward that I feel you will be interested to read. Thank you.

  4. Eddie Taumoepeau Jobrack

    It’s awesome that we have people that love History and dates. One of the major problems with the dates as Tevita Fale is trying to point out that the Kings list which there were 2 known of before Tevita presented his, both lists were recorded by two sources at the time 1. by Shirley Baker ( Wesleyan Church ) and 2. The Catholic Church list who were embedded with the Tu’I Tonga Line at the time. Information privy to the Royal ( Tu’I Tonga line ) of number 2. above and up and coming 1. who supported Taufaahau and his party who later became King George 1st. So as you can see by the list provided by T. Fale there’s a contrast as to how many Kings there were. With T.Fale’s list there’s even more than the Catholic by the two previous Kings lists the conclusion was drawn by those with these lists that the Tongan Kings start at 940 AD with Fale’s list it’s 450AD that’s quite a discrepancy but, he’ll post at a later time his case. But, just as you asked for proof and evidence more will be revealed at later dates T.Fale is a Tongan Noble and privy to lots of information not known to the public as to what is given and not given. Genealogy kept in the palace records as well as other artifacts are kept there too, he was first commissioned in the 80’s to research things by Tupou Fa (4th) King of Tonga like the Haamonga Trilithon for one. He has evidence to support his findings and, they will be forthcoming as he said which many are blowing through because they’re not familiar with the lore or oral history. The 3 tribes he mentioned should not be dismissed as legend. My research supports as well as the DNA that’s be found already today, my research I believe it’s there too so the DNA from Austronesia ( Taiwan if you will ) yes, Melanesia ( black Islanders PNG back to Egypt? yes ), and the 3rd ? The Tangaloa clan the Kingly line which as far I know the DNA from the Royal tombs of the Langi tombs has not been permitted to be taken or tested. We, those of the Polynesians believe all the Kings of these islands were related by blood from Tonga, Manu’a ( Samoa ), Tahiti to Hawaii across the Pacific. Many of those islands have burial places too and the DNA has not been taken touched our tested. So as for the 3rd tribes DNA being represented for testing or evidence as to where the 3rd tribe came from I’ll let the Academic world continue for now to say that the Polynesians were from Asia 1/3 rd of the story is only part of the story. Very important to read and understand the article he posted and not brush off the stories that have been passed down as just stories they tell. This is why his foundation is called ‘The Polynesian Eyes Foundation’ our history being told through Polynesian eyes. To be continued

    1. Charles Talivakaola

      Beautifully said Eddie Taumoepeau Jobrack and keep up the outstanding work Tuala Fale. It’s great to see it through “Polynesian Eyes” It’s the stories that our ancestors have passed on from generation to generation yet the world wants to tell us something different like who they think we are and where they think we came from. God will reveal what he wants revealed at his time and not at our time. A great book to look at is “Lehi-Father of Polynesia.” A historian by the name of Bruce Sutton visited all the islands in Polynesia and discovers that they are all telling the same story about a great white God who comes down out of the sky and dwells with them for a time, teaches them many things and before leaving he says he’ll return again. It was prophesied for generations that he would come and when he did and then left, the people looked forward to when he would return again.
      Enter James Cook, who they mistook for the Great White God but when he visited in his third voyage in 1779 it was during the celebration of the return of the great white God. “Lono” who had promised to return. (Get the book) Only then did he (Bruce Sutton) realise that they all told the same story. Their dialect was similar in meaning or sound and he came to the conclusion that the people of Polynesia were one people who after time had scattered throughout the islands yes by boat. James Cook’s DNA can be found throughout the islands as well. As a family history consultant I have helped people of Maori, Tongan and Samoan roots who all have a link to James Cooks lineage and we can safely tell the world that he was not the great white god (Jesus Christ) but it is an example of how DNA travels far and wide. Our bones (Polynesian) are found in the Americas. The archeologists compared them to the natives of that land and found that it was of Polynesian people long ago. Our history takes us further then that actually, all the way back to Israel. Yet we don’t need evidence as we doubt not the lords servants although we embrace it when it comes forth but it isn’t surprising to us though it does connect the dots for the non believers. But that’s what faith is, the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. #Makepolynesiagreatagain

  5. Josh Taumoefolau

    G’day mate, I see you’ve done a lot of work here so well done. Its great to see interest in our ancient culture. I too have spent quite a number of years researching our ancient past and there are lots of holes to be found. There’s lots here I agree with, but equally don’t.

    I like that your approach is unorthodox, however I’d be careful stating against fact that can’t be disputed, i.e. that we originated from South America [linguistic studies show Tongan is a derivative from ‘proto-polynesian’ which is an ancient Austronesian language that points towards Asia, the oldest artifacts found in Tonga (2,000 years old plus) are of ‘Lapita’ origin which trace back to the Bismark Archipelago and Asia, and for years DNA studies have shown Polynesians to have originated from Taiwan, Asia].

    I acknowledge you state upfront that this history is ‘your take’ on events, but if your stance is to refute conclusive facts be aware it diminishes your credibility and therefore this paper. A better idea would be to build on empirical verifiability with this topic, challenge theories that can’t be wholly substantiated, and form your own hypothesis.

    If you’d like to discuss further or want any references pertaining to the above (or other great papers/books written about our past), I’d be happy to share them.

  6. Christal Wolfgramm

    So very interesting from a Tongan Polynesian point of view.

  7. Karl Wolfgramm

    Thank you for you insights. Looking forward to reading more.

  8. Tim

    Thank you for these extremely article, obout the history of the Polynesian, after I read the “Kontiki Expetition”I wish to learn more about our Poly’s forefathers came from .

  9. Line Helu

    Thank you, looking forward to more articles.

  10. Thank you for taking the time to compile your research. Continue being awesome! As a native hawaiian but black by DNA, I love digging deeper into the Polynesian history. It is beautiful, misunderstood and rich. Thanks again!


  11. Emaluni

    Interesting article. My grandfather’s name was TaufaAhau and my father “Paangakatoa”, as named by Queen Salote. If you have any insight on the origin of the name, would greatly appreciate it.

  12. Tavatuutolu

    The dismantling of Hifo Mei Langi to build Faua Wharf – thats so tragic!

  13. Ratu Samu Nabola

    Bula vinaka!! Very informative and educational history indeed. Only by looking with our “Polynesian Eyes” will we be able to understand clearly! I am a tenth generation direct descendant of Maile Latamai (through maternal lineage) – the Tongan Chief from the Tui’Pelehake Family who established Tavuni Hillfort in Naroro, Nadroga, Fiji Islands.
    My previous researches has led me to uncover that he was the eldest son of Lekaumoana a Tui’Pelehake Title holder of his time.
    A special request since you have list of all Tui’tonga lineages from the first holder, would you be able to forward me a copy of my ancestors the Tui’Pelehake’s lineages if you can find any please!
    Hope to hear from you soon. Keep up the great work!!

  14. Jim Reece

    Hello, My great granma, was born in Neiafu, Vavau. Her name was Lauhuni Tupou Tongilava. I believe her mother was Milika Tupou, daughter of George Tupou. Milika married the chief of Kapa is, Vavau, hence the Tongilava name. Do you have any other infomation on Milika Tupou.

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