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
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
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.
‘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:
- 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
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.
- 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.
- 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:
- 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.
- ‘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.
- 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:
- 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.
- 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:
- ‘Aho’eitu and his heirs will become the Tu’i Tonga and Fale ‘Uluaki
- Talafale (eldest son) and his heirs will become the Tu’i Fale Ua to serve ‘Aho’eitu and his descendents.
- Tu’i Loloko, Tu’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:
- ‘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.
- To the left of the “Olovaha” Tu’i Folaha and Maliepo were assigned to sit
- To the right of the “Olovaha” Tu’i Loloko and Matakehe were assigned to sit.
Places in Langi named after the story of ‘Aho’eitu:
- Talakite (Mata’aho)
- Holoi’ufi (Va’epopua)
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:
First Tu’i Tonga Settlement- “Tonga” 450 AD – 510 AD
- 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:
‘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.