Piula College

Piula College

Function Secondary School, boarding and day school for boys and girls
Location Piula, Tongatapu
Contact Address

Piula College is part of the ministry of the Seventh Day Adventist Church in Tonga and is located on the outskirts of Vaini.


The first European Seventh-day Adventist missionary, E. H. gates, came to Tonga in 1891. AJRead came along with him in the boat PITCAIRN. They arrived at the capital city, NUKUALOFA. They both returned without establishing the Seventh-Day Adventist Church. In 1895, E. Hilliard arrived to start up the work here at Nukualofa.

In the year 1895, Mrs. Hilliard commenced a small Primary School. This was the first known Seventh-day Adventist school in the Kingdom. When the student enrollment exceeded the accommodation provided at the teachers homes, they were moved into a separate school building 14ft. x 24ft.

Mr. and Mrs. S. Butz came from Pitcairn Island the following year to help Mrs. Hilliard teach in this school, soon after this promising start with up to 28 students, interest flagged and the school was closed.

On November 28, 1904; Mr. Ella Boyd, from Australia restarted the school on a new piece of land acquired by the church at Mangaia, where the mission headquarters still operates. During this time the school became attractive to both Europeans and Tongans of high and low estate so that more teachers came from Australia Nellie Sisley, Myra Ford amd Mrs. E Thorpe to care for the growth in this school enrolment.

Important Events:

In 1918 there was an epidemic disease, which caused the death of Mrs. Tolhurst and the return of H. L. Tolhurst to Australia. B. E. Hadfield at Faleloa School replaced him. Soon after this the school was relocated at Houma, on main Tongatapu Isalnd. At this time the numbers of missionaries and school pupils were decreasing, but in 1921 the move was accomplished. Mr. E. E. Thorpe was headmaster at Houma and by 1924 there were 16 boarding students.

In the latter part of 1924 Mr. C. S. Parler arrived to become first Principal at Houma and at that time were 50 boarding students, four of whom were female. Then Sione Latu, a student from Avondale College, Australia; came to teach in this school. Students numbers grew until there was not enough land to support them at this site, so a new location was required.

Mr. R. W. Smith sought this new land and aquired 80 acres at Vaini, where Beulah College still stands. In 1926 Mr C. S. Palmer returned to Australia for health reasons and Mrs Smith (the Presidents wife) filled his position, until 1927, when L. H. Tolhurst returned, re-married.

In the beginning of 1928 Tolhurst became President of the mission and B.E. Hadfield, Principal of Beulah. School standards and pupils numbers steadily improved until 1933, when 3 students passed Government Examinations. They were Lopeti Tinitolo, Ika Takau and Peni Finau.

Although these students did so well, Beulah was not yet recognized as a College. In 1933, L. H. Tolhurst and P.E. Hadfield again reversed roles. Under the leadership of L.H. Tolhurst in 1934, the school grew and public exam results were so good that the Government Education Department accepted this school standard and in 1937 it became officially known as Beulah College.

In 1938, A. E. Watts became Principal in place of Tolhurst; more buildings were built and in 1939 HRH Queen Salote opened the Schoolhouse. (It was at this time that Mrs. Watts designed and introduced the girls uniform, which is still worn today.)

Because of World War 2, Europeans had to leave Tonga and return to their home countries and Paula Halatoa Fua became the acting Principal until the war was over. During the war years, because the materials were unobtainable, the uniform was made from khaki material.

In 1945 J. Cerknik was called to be Principal and exam results were really improved and during his Principalship, Queen Salote gave the College 100 acres of land.

In 1951 A. H. Dawson came from Australia to replace J. Cennik as Principal of a rapidly growing Beulah College. In 1955 the college bought more land leased previously by Ramsey and D. Powell replaced A. H. Dawson. At this stage the College went only as far as class 8 (or Form 2) and the only public exam available for them was the Lower Leaving Certificate. It was desirable to upgrade this offering to Tonga Higher Leaving Certificate and for this purpose G. N. Sutcliff came on to the teaching staff from Australia. In 1959 E. Arthur replaced D. Powell and Iunisi Palu became the first student to sit and pass Tonga Higher Leaving Certificate. As a result of this, many more students enrolled and studies went right up to Form 4. In 1963, A. Sonter replaced E. Arthur.

During the years of A. Sonter the school aimed at raising standards to Form 5, New Zealand School Certificate. Unfortunately, before this could be accomplished, A. Sonter was transferred to Fulton and his Deputy, P. Trustcott became principal P. Trustcott, in spite of determined affort, also was transferred to Fulton before this standard could be raised. Mr. Edgworth became new Principal in 1972 and a small number of students was allowed to sit, unsuccessfully, for New Zealand School Certificate. Soon after he returned and his Deputy G. Hawke became Principal. In 1974 L. Hughes replaced G. Hawke for only one year. These changes produced uncertainty and a decline in academic performance. In 1975 David Sutcliffe took the position of Principal until 1977. Neamani Tausere from Fiji, the first Pacific Islander to become Principal of Beulah, stayed for only one year before taking further study in the Philippines.

In 1979-1981 D. Caldwell, Principal of Beulah College, served for a number of nine years. Tesimale Latu, the first Tongan Principal, from the island of TUNGUA in the Haapai Group, replaced him. In the same year, 1982, the result of the New Zealand School Certificate was most rewarding, and successive years saw higher academic results and enrolments, both for Tonga Higher Leaving Certificate.

In 1986 for the first time, students sat for the University Entrance exam (From 6). There was a positive result as Vanessa A Latu passed all her subjects. This has continued to improve until the present day.

After Tesimale Latus reign of six years, he traveled to Australia for further study and Edgar Butler from Australia became acting Principal for only one year.

In 1989 Edgar returned and  Apisai Mahe became the second Tongan Principal of this college. In 1992 Apisai left for further studies in New Zealand and his position was filled by Mark Hansen.

1 C. S. Palmer 1924 - 1926
2 Mrs. R.W. Smith (Acting) 1926 - 1927
3 H.L. Tolhurst 1927
4 Acting 1933 - 1937
5 B.E. Hadfield 1928 - 1933
6 A.E.Watts 1938 - 1940
7 A.W.Martin 1940 - 1942
8 Paul Fua (Acting) 1943
9 J. Cernik 1943 - 1950
10 A.H.Dawson 1950 - 1956
11 D.Powell 1956 - 1958
12 E.M. Arthur 1959 - 1963
13 A. Sonter 1964 - 1969
14 P. Trustcott 1970 - 1971
15 D. Edyworth 1972
16 G.Hawke 1973
17 L. Hughes 1974
18 D. Sutcliffe 1975 - 1977
19 N. Tausere 1978
20 D. Coldwell 1979 - 1981
21 T. Latu 1982 - 1987
22 E. Butler 1988
23 A. Mahe 1989 - 1991
24 M. Hansen 1992 - 1993
25 T. Latu 1994 +