Tonga’s past, present and future are intimately wound around the ocean. It’s history and lore speak of the immensity of the skies the isolation, solidarity brought by the ocean. The present economic survival is from across the Ocean and within the Ocean itself. Will it’s future and demise also be from the Ocean?
BlackrainLF captured beautiful imagery of the interconnectedness of life and the Ocean for those visiting Tonga. The Pacific Ocean, is inescapable, a distraction for visitors, a lifeline for believers.
These pages continue meanderings, biased collection of views of Tonga. We drive to be truthful but not encyclopedic, another view we hope people can also enjoy.
Before the Internet, Tongans were sharing news and information in many ways. Like Biblical times, stories were shared from one settlement to the next. Events (such as church) became centers locally and Tongans overseas to share their culture and ‘letters’ from ‘home.’
An explosion of educated Tongans got involved with the local ‘media’ outlets, and various ‘community’ radio stations around the world. The Tonga government and Tonga church newspapers were distributed amongst the diaspora of Tongans.
These were the traditional ‘news outlets’ but new traditions began.
The government sponsored local newspaper “Chronicle” or Kalonikali ran for many years as an adjunct to the local Radio A3Z government radio station.
The foreign news services such as Radio New Zealand Pacific continued to report on the Islands with short snippets of political and local news.
Entrepreneurs like Kalafi Moala’s Taimi ‘o Tonga published ‘Tonga’ and ‘local’ content newspapers for the Tongan audience.
Pesi and Mary Fonua’s Matangi Tonga Online from Vava’u Press became a stable constant Internet presence of news and information from Tonga.
Tonga has a saying “Tele lou niu” which euthemistically means we love to talk, about anything and everything. We have opinions ready to roll. When the walled gardens of social media like MySpace exploded on the Internet, Pacific Islanders of all walks were in there stirring up awesome and tripe content, like everyone else.
They say that humans are social creatures, I tell you that Pacific Islanders are kainga people. We are in love/hate relationship with our kainga. You can’t live with them, you can’t live without them. We have to get together for many things and any medium that can help facilitate that, is quickly adopted (once it becomes affordable.)
Creating your own space, through websites, is difficult for most people. Tongans ventured onto the Internet as publishers and created meeting places that were quickly filled with peers. Tonga Online, Planet-Tonga are examples of early pioneers. They provided forums that Tongans could drop into and vent in English or Tongan.
But when the Social Networks came on the scene, the entry into self-publishing (spewing) dropped. Tongans drove their kin, and their kin into the various Social Networks, be it MySpace, Flicker, to Facebook and Youtube. The Tele Lou Niu went from the back yard, koka’anga, kalapu, and got global. Newer mobile phones made posting pictures easier, then they made posting videos easier too.
The rest of the world may love cat photos, Tongans have lau’i (euthemism for) ‘diligently view’ every wedding, funeral, the gift keeps giving.
There was a time when the only means of finding information about Tonga, was to check-out the articles in your local library’s faded Encyclopedias. They promised well researched material, although possibly ‘dated’.
Information about Tonga was very ‘filtered’ by the gatekeepers of knowledge, whether the tour operators or lauded anthology knowledge brokers. There was little to be found on Tonga in print and little outside of a few academic materials including sound and visuals.
There were some films available on VHS, and the below is a snip from one that were assigned to High School students as part of our Pacific History.
The European, Exhuberant loose but entertaining interpretation of Bligh’s diary, hardly ‘accurate’ (other than the narrators reading of Bligh’s diary). The righteous white crew, victorious over the barbarous savages fighting over coats they don’t even use (nor need.)
The dialogue on Tonga and her history is framed with foreign bias verging on ignorance.
Our children were taught this as the view of the ‘civilised world.’
At the dawn of Internet in Tonga, thanks to the help of Eric and Eric, who built the 1st ISP for Cable and Wireless, Tonga, using satellite routing through to the US and local 9600 baud dial-up services. We found ourselves, in Tonga, armed with ‘tech’ and wanting to be part of this new information revolution (medium for dialogue).
Thanks to the WayBack Machine we can take a brief look at how it was.
More ‘tech’ capable Tongans were already on the Internet, and also saw the opportunity to share and bring together Tongans, ‘Anapesi and Tevita ‘O Ka’ili with friends and family published Planet Tonga and became a strong source of community and information on Tonga.
Passions change, and life intervened along the way. Fortunately, many of the news and information publishers eventually found there way onto the Internet, whilst new entrepreneurs used the Internet as their primary or only publishing circle.