- Tu'i Tonga Empire
Infobox Former Country
conventional_long_name = Tu'i Tonga Empire
common_name = Tu'i Tonga Empire|
continent = Oceania
government_type = Empire|
year_start = 950s
year_end = 1470s|
p1 = Tu’i Manu’a
s1 = Tu'i Ha'atakalaua
flag_s1 = |
image_map_caption = |
capital = Mu'a
common_languages = Tongan
religion = |
leader1 = ‘Aho’eitu
leader2 = Kauʻulufonua I
year_leader1 = c.950
year_leader2 = c.1470
title_leader = Tuʻi TongaThe Tuokinai Tonga Empire or Tongan Empire was a powerful
Oceanian empire. It was centered in Tongaon the island of Tongatapuat the capital of Muokinaa. At its height, the empire stretched from Niuē to Tikopiaand had an even greater sphere of influence.
Beginning of the empire
Tongans believed that their ancestors came from Langi, meaning "above" or "the sky" and they named the homeland as
Pulotu. In the pre-Christian times, they held the belief their gods lived there, and that those in high rank would join them after death. Because the commoners were not believed to have souls, they would not be able to return to Pulotu. This is analgous to the New Zealand mythical homeland of Hawaiki.
Around AD 1200, the 10th Tu’i Tonga, Momo, and his successor, ‘Tu’itatui, used their large war canoes to conquer a massive island empire, stretching from Tikopia in the west to Niue in the east. Their realm contained Futuna, ‘Uvea, Hawaii, Tokelau, Rotuma, Fiji, Lau, Matautu, Marquesas, Solomon Islands, Kiribati, Samoa, Niue, and Cook Islands. To better govern the large territory, the Tu’i Tongas had their throne moved by the lagoon at Lapaha, Tongatapu. The power of the Tu’i Tonga was renowned throughout the Pacific, and many of the neighboring islands participated in the widespread trade of resources and new ideas.
This glorious era of ancient prosperity was not to last, however. In AD 1535,Takalaua, was assasinated by two foreigners while swimming in the lagoon of Mu'a. His successor, Kau’ulufonuafekai I sought the killers all the way to Futuna. They where brought back to Tonga and, after having their teeth knocked out, they had to chew the kava root for the Tu'i Tonga to drink. Their bodies were then cut up to pieces and eaten by Kau'ulufonuafiekai and his chiefs. Because of so many assasination attempts on the Tu'i Tonga, Kau'ulfonuafiekai established a new dynasty called Tu'i Ha'atakalaua in honor of his father and he gave his brother Mo’ungamotu’a, the title of Tu’i Ha’a Takala’ua. This new dynasty was to deal with the everyday decisions of the empire, while the position of Tu’i Tonga was to be the nation’s spiritual leader, though he still controllled the final say in the life or death of his people.
In 1610, the 6th Tu’i Ha’a Takala’ua, Moungatonga, created the position of Tu’i Kanokupolu for his son, Ngata, which divided regional rule between them, though as time went on the Tu’i Kanokupolu’s power became more and more dominant over Tonga. Things continued this way for a long time afterward. The first Europeans arrived in 1616, when the Dutch explorers Willem Schouten and Jacob Le Maire spotted Tongans in a canoe off the coast of Niuatoputapu, and the famous Abel Tasman followed soon after. These visits were brief, however, and did not change the island much at all.
Expansion (1200 – 1500)
Under the 10th Tuokinai Tonga, Momo and his son Tuokinaitātui (11th Tuokinai Tonga) the empire was at its height of expansion, tributes for the Tu'i Tonga was enforced to all subjects of the empire. This tribute was known as the " 'Inasi " and was done in Mu'a once a year during the harvest season when all countries that were subject to the Tu'i Tonga must bring a gift for the king. Captain Cook witness a Inasi ceremony in 1777, in which he noticed a lot of foreigners in Tonga, especially the darker people that resembles African descend from Fiji, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. The finest mats of Samoa is named after the empire ruler, the 'Ie Tonga. The finest of all mats were part of the gifts to the Tu'i Tonga during this era. The success of the Empire was largely based upon the Imperial Navy. The most common vessels were long-distance canoes that usually had square sails. The largest canoes could carry up to 100 men. The most notable of these were the "Tongafuesia", "okinaĀkiheuho", the "Lomipeau", and the "Takaokinaipōmana". The large navy allowed for Tonga to become wealthy with large amounts of trade and tribute flowing into the Royal Treasury.
Decline of Tuokinai Tonga and two new dynasties
The Tuokinai Tonga decline began due to numerous wars and internal pressure. In the 13th or 14th century Sāmoa got its independence under the lead the Malietoa family. In response the
falefāwere created as political advisors to the Empire. The falefā were initially successful in keeping the dynasty going but pressure persisted and was followed by the assassination of several rulers. The most notable were, Havea I(19th TT), Havea II(22nd TT), and Takalaua(23rd TT), which were known for their tyrannicalrule. Takalaua's son and successor Kauokinaulufonua I pursued the murderers for a long time, until he finally got them on okinaUvea and he punished them severily.
The dividing line between the two moieties was the old coastal road named "Hala Fonua moa" (dry land road). Still today the chiefs who derive their authority from the Tuokinai Tonga are named the Kau hala okinauta (inland road people) while those from the Tuokinai Kanokupolu are known as the Kau hala lalo (low road people). Concerning the Tuokinai Haokinaatakalaua supporters: when this division arose, in the 15th century, they were of course the Kauhalalalo. But when the Tuokinai Kanokupolu had overtaken them they shifted their allegiance to the Kauhalaokinauta.
History of Tonga
* [http://planet-tonga.com/language_journal/Emancipation_in_Tonga/index.shtml History of Tonga]
* [http://parliament.gov.to/new_page_3.htm Government site on the history of Tonga]
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