Royal Palace, Tonga

Royal Palace, Tonga

The Royal Palace of the Kingdom of Tonga is located in the northwest of the capital, Nukuokinaalofa, close to the Pacific Ocean. The wooden Palace, which was built in 1867, is the official residence of the King of Tonga. Although the Palace is not open to the public, it is easily visible from the waterfront.

In line with the deference the Tongans have for the royal family, poets almost never refer to the palace ("pālasi") by name, but use "heliaki" (allegoric references) like: "Fanga-tapu" (sacred beach, the shore in front of the building), "Loto-okinaā" (inside the fence), "okinaĀ-maka" (stone fence), "Hangai Tokelau" (northwind against), a tree near the kitchen, and so forth.

The old, about one meter high stone fence was so sacred to the king, that no one would ever dare to sit on it, let alone to cross it. However after 1990 the king had a 3 meter high grid fence erected. After 2000 some people broke through the gates with trucks. This prompted the installation of iron bars to secure the gates.

The king and his family have several more palaces to choose from. There is a palace in Fuaokinaamotu, there is "Kauvai" near Longoteme, "Liukava" (revolution) in Kolovai, and both "Tufumāhina" and "Vila" (the villa) between Koloua and Pea. The "vila" was built by crownprince Tupoutookinaa in the 1990s. It is to be seen now he has become king (Siaosi Tupou V), whether he will maintain that as his primary house or will move to the "pālasi". The general expectation is, however, that the Queen-mother Halaevalu will remain in the sagging and leaking palace, while the enigmatic king prefers to remain in his still new villa, far away from any neighbours.

There is "Tauokinaakipulu" palace on Lifuka in Haokinaapai, "Fangatongo" (mangrove beach) near Talau on Vavaokinau, and there are residences in Niuafookinaou and Niuatoputapu. The palace of okinaEua is just north of the harbour in Taokinaanga. In the 1980's the previous king, Tāufaokinaāhau Tupou IV had a new palace built on a mountain top near Houma, but it was never used and nowadays not much more than the artistically made bathtub is left over, overgrown by weeds.

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