Enriching Aoteara with the ‘Lotu Mo’oni’ highlights unification of Tonga

The theme for this year's Tongan Language Week Fakakoloa ‘o Aotearoa ‘aki ‘a e Lotu Mo’oni also highlights one of the many contributions Christian missionaries brought to Tonga - the political formation and unification of the island kingdom.

Tongan academic and former MP, Dr Sitiveni Halapua, says it was the missionaries' support and advice that made a huge impact on shaping Tonga’s political formation and system.

“Tonga moved very fast. Their constitution was written by the Prime Minister Shirley Baker and other missionaries in 1875 after being declared a Christian nation by Taufa’ahau, who was later crowned as King George Tupou," says Halapua.     

“It made bigger nations like German and the British recognise Tonga as a civilized country and a sovereign nation. 

“To me, that was one of the major political contributions the missionaries did for Tonga."

Tonga was also able to escape the claws of colonialism, according to Halapua.

After years of civil wars between the nobles, chiefs and kings of the various islands and villages in Tonga, Taufa’ahau the Tu’i Ha’apai with his missionaries' advice united Tonga for the first time, according to Halapua.

Taufa’ahau won every battle in Tonga "and demanded people accept Christianity".