Culture of Tonga - history, people, women, beliefs, food, customs, family, social, marriage
supervisors and other MOH personnel, who took the time to meet and provide essential key enabling factors, family planning, mother and newborn health, ( CPR) is , which is well below the MDG target of Updated 11 July — am first published at am Her adopted parents beat her when they came home tired from work. Her story is not uncommon in the Kingdom of Tonga, where three out of four women report We meet in the office of the Talitha Project, a support group for young women, on a busy corner. Fifteen years after a young man disowns his infant son, fate brings father and son together in a deadly street fight that'll alter their lives forever.
George Tupou I transformed Tonga into a modern state, abolishing slavery and the absolute power of chiefs. Since the last Tu'i Tonga had no official heir, as the head of the other two royal lines, King George became the only king of Tonga. The constitution recognizes only his royal line. Inthe British granted Tonga's request for protectorate status. Inall powers were restored to the Tongan monarchy.
The British protectorate shielded Tonga from other colonizing powers. A spirit of independence and pride was nurtured during the long reign of Queen Salote —who led the nation into the twentieth century, paying special attention to preserving its heritage.
Because of her vision, Tongan culture is an integral part of the school curriculum. Students learn Tongan history, traditional poetry, music, and dancing, along with wood carving, mat weaving, and bark cloth making.
Urbanism, Architecture, and the Use of Space The first European visitors spoke of a population scattered throughout a densely cultivated land. Now Tongans are concentrated in villages and small towns. Most villages lie around an empty area, called mala'ethat is used for social gatherings and games. A traditional house stands on a raised platform of stones and sand.
It is oval in shape with a thatched roof and walls of woven palm tree panels. The toilet and the kitchen are in separate huts. Contemporary houses are usually bigger and made of timber with corrugated iron roofs. Little furniture is used. The simplicity of house architecture contrasts with the monumentality of earlier royal buildings and tombs. The royal tombs are layered pyramidal structures built of massive stone slabs.
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The huge Ha'amonga trilithon, made of two stone columns topped with a notched column, was built around C. One hypothesis suggests that it was the door to the royal compound, and another that it was used for astronomical purposes. These monuments bear witness to the power of the Tu'i Tonga.
They also indicate the sophisticated stone-cutting technology and skills of the ancient craftsmen. Food and Economy Food in Daily Life. Both in villages and in the main towns, food is the occasion for a family gathering only at the end of the day. Otherwise, food is consumed freely at any time. The basic staples are root crops like taro accompanied by fried or roasted meat or fish. Taro leaves are one of the various green vegetables used together with a variety of tropical fruits like bananas, pineapples, and mangoes.
Food Customs at Ceremonial Occasions. The ritual of kava drinking characterizes both formal and daily events. Kava is prepared by grinding dried roots and mixing the powder with water in a ceremonial bowl. It is nonalcoholic but slightly narcotic. People sit cross-legged in an elliptical pattern whose long axis is headed by the bowl on one side and by the highest-ranked participant on the other.
The preparation and serving of the drink are done by a young woman, usually but not always the only female participant, or by male specialists. The The royal palace in Nukualofa. Tonga is a constitutional monarchy. Kava clubs are found in the towns, and kava drinking gatherings take place almost daily in the villages.
The economy centers on agriculture and fishing. Major exports are vanilla, fish, handicrafts, and pumpkins grown for export to Japan.
King Taufa'ahau Tupou IV has modernized the country's economy. Based largely on foreign aid from New Zealand, Australia, the United States, and the European Community and on imports, this process has created a widespread presence of Western products. The agricultural base of the economy remains.
The tourist industry is growing, and revenues from Tongans working abroad are one of the largest sources of income. Typical agricultural produce are root crops such as taro, tapioca, sweet potatoes, and yams. Coconuts, bananas, mangoes, papayas, pineapples, watermelons, peanuts, and vegetables are grown. Pigs and fowl are abundant and free ranging. Cows, sheep, and goats also are present.
Intensive shellfishing is conducted along the shores, and there is an abundant fish supply. Royal visits and funerals call for the preparation of large amounts of food. Roasted piglets are laid in the center of a pola tray made of woven palm tree leaves. Root crops, meats, and shellfish prepared in the 'umu underground oven are added and garnished with fresh fruits, decorative flowers, ribbons, and balloons.
In villages, food is consumed while one sits on a mat; in towns, tables are used. Land Tenure and Property. All land is owned by the king, the nobles, and the government.
Foreigners cannot own land by constitutional decree. Owners have the right to sublet land to people who pay a tribute, traditionally food. Every citizen above age 16 is entitled to lease eight and a quarter acres of land from the government for a small sum, but the growing population and its concentration in the capital make it increasingly difficult to exercise this right.
Social Stratification Classes and Castes. Traditional society had at its top the ha'a tu'i kingsfollowed by the hou'eiki chiefsha'a matapule talking chiefskau mu'a would-be talking chiefsand kau tu'a commoners. All titles were heritable and followed the male line of descent almost exclusively. This hierarchical social structure is still essentially in place. Tribute to the chiefs was paid twice a year. Agricultural produce and gifts such as butchered animals, bark cloth, and mats were formally offered to the Tu'i Tonga and, through him, to the gods in an elaborate ceremony called 'inasi.
The king now visits all the major islands at least once a year on the occasion of the Royal Agriculture Show. The gift giving and formalities at the show closely resemble those of the 'inasi. The constitution eliminated the title of chief and introduced the title of nopele noblewhich was given to thirty-three traditional chiefs. Only nobles and the king are now entitled to own and distribute land.
An increasingly market-oriented economy and an expanding bureaucracy have recently added a middle class that runs the gamut from commoners to chiefs. Newly acquired wealth, however, does not easily overcome social barriers rooted in history. Often claims to higher social status are established by claiming kinship to holders of aristocratic titles. The Kingdom of Tonga is a constitutional monarchy. The constitution prescribes a legislative assembly with twenty members representing the thirty-three nobles and twenty members elected as people's representatives.
Inboth groups were reduced to nine each. Twelve other members are appointed by the king: In the election, six of the people's representatives belonged to the new Pro-Democracy Movement that in became the Democratic Party founded by 'Akilisi Pohiva. The kingdom is divided into districts, each headed by a district officer. Every three years, each village elects a town officer who represents the government and holds village meetings fono where government regulations are made known.
Every villager above 16 years of age is entitled to attend. People do not take part in the decision-making process but show approval or dissent through their implementation of the instructions.
Social Welfare and Change Programs Every citizen is entitled to free primary education, a plot of land at age 16, and free medical care. Hospitals, dispensaries, and pharmacies are distributed over the territory.
Smaller government clinics are present in some villages in the outer islands. To support the modernization of the country, in the Tongan Development Bank was established. Financed by the World Bank and contributions from New Zealand and Australia, it provides low-interest loans for entrepreneurs. Foreigners who want to invest in the country need a Tongan partner for any economic venture.
Peace Corps, the Japanese Overseas Cooperation Volunteers, and development organizations connected with the British, New Zealand, and Australian governments are among the active aid agencies. They work in the fields of education, health, agriculture, and entrepreneurship. The introduction of wage labor in twentieth century privileged men, altering an equilibrium between genders that had lasted for centuries.
Cash is now an element of wealth, and wage-earning men have easier access to it. However, the old egalitarian attitude toward the two sexes has not been altered by economic and technological changes. In contemporary offices, shops, and banks, working women are prominent.
In villages, most men take care of the land or tend animals.
Culture of Tonga
Women weave mats and make bark cloth. Both women and men actively participate in parenting. Food preparation is shared between the male and female members of a family. The preparation of the 'umu underground ovennow restricted to Sundays and special occasions, is an almost exclusive male activity. Older children help with activities and household chores. The Relative Status of Women and Men. The hierarchical system's emphasis on the higher status of females guarantees an equal role in society for females and males in spite of the fact that men usually inherit titles and land.
Marriage, Family, and Kinship Marriage. There are no explicit rules for marriage, and couples are formed through reciprocal free choice. Pronounced social stratification discourages marriages between people of vastly different social status. Divorce is legal and not uncommon.
During a wedding, the two kainga involved exchange mats, bark cloth, and food. On the day of the ceremony, the bride and groom "wear their wealth. Tonga has an almost universal rate of literacy. Kinship ties are of paramount importance. The two major kin groups are famili family and kainga extended family. The 'ulumotu'a head of the family presides over this group.
A kainga consists of relatives living in different households in the same village or in several villages. They are related by bilateral relationships of consanguinity in a cognatic system. Membership in kin groups is restricted to fewer and closer relatives than it was in the past. The parameters in establishing hierarchy at any level of society are gender and age.
Prospective adoptive parents' financial information, such as bank statements, job letters, etc. Death certificate s of birth parents of child if deceased. Consent to adoption from biological mother. Sworn affidavits of applicants for letters of adoption and sworn affidavits of the child's biological parents. Additional documents may be requested. If you are asked to provide proof that a document from the United States is authentic, we can help.
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Specifically, you need to apply for several documents for your child before he or she can travel to the United States: Your name will be added to the new birth certificate. Tongan Passport Your child is not yet a U. Current Tongan law places restrictions on the issuance of Tongan passports to Tongan children adopted by foreigners.
The children may obtain Tongan passports, but only in their birth rather than adoptive names. It is advisable that applicants for letters of adoption that their prospective adoptive child already has a Tongan passport before the adoption order has been granted.
American prospective adoptive parents do not have legal standing to apply for a Tongan passport for a minor child. The biological parent or a Tongan legal guardian must consent to the passport application. Tongan law clearly states, "The adopted person shall bear the name of and be deemed to be of the same nationality as the person to whom Letters of Adoption have been granted by the Court.
Immigrant Visa After you obtain the new birth certificate and passport for your child, you also need to apply for an U. After the adoption or custody for purpose of adoption is granted, visit the U. Embassy for final review and approval of the child's I petition and to obtain a visa for the child.
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This immigrant visa allows your child to travel home with you. As part of this process, the Consular Officer must be provided the "Panel Physician's" medical report on the child if it was not provided during the provisional approval stage. It is then the prospective adoptive parents' responsibility to keep in touch via one of the contact methods listed above phone, fax, e-mail, etc. Embassy in Suva cannot issue visas on the same day.
The minimum turnaround time is two working days, depending on the completeness of the application package and accompanying documentation. The Child Citizenship Act of allows your new child to acquire American citizenship automatically when he or she enters the United States as lawful permanent residents. For adoptions finalized in the United States: The Child Citizenship Act of allows your new child to acquire American citizenship automatically when the court in the United States issues the final adoption decree.
Traveling Abroad Applying for Your U. Passport A valid U. Department of State has the authority to grant, issue, or verify U. Getting or renewing a passport is easy. A visa is an official document issued by a foreign country that formally allows you to visit. Where required, visas are attached to your passport and allow you to enter a foreign nation. The State Department is a good place to start. Travel registration makes it possible to contact you if necessary. Whether there's a family emergency in the United States, or a crisis in Tonga registration assists the U.
Embassy or Consulate in reaching you.
After Adoption What does Tonga require of the adoptive parents after the adoption? We strongly urge you to comply with the wish of Tonga and complete all post-adoption requirements in a timely manner. Your adoption agency may be able to help you with this process. Your cooperation will contribute to that country's history of positive experiences with American parents.