Tonga

Haa900 / Creative Commons CC0 1.0 / Wikimedia Commons

Scientists in Australia have dated a set of ancient tattoo chisels to the dawn of Polynesian culture, 2,700 years ago. The tools were found in Tonga Tapu, and the scientists say that suggests that tattooing began in Tonga and Samoa, and then spread to the rest of the Polynesian Triangle, including Hawaii.

NASA / Youtube

Two years ago, we reported on a new island in the South Pacific that reminded scientists at NASA of volcanoes on Mars. One of those scientists got an unexpected chance to visit in person and found the four-year-old island teeming with life.

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“Tongasat” may never gain the renown of “Watergate” or “Iran-Contra,” but the scandal in the tiny Pacific kingdom involves 50 million dollars in Chinese funds, a princess and now the government wants to sue two former prime ministers.

ITU Pictures / Flickr

Last week, Tonga’s Prime Minister called on China to forgive debts on loans, not just in Tonga but around the Pacific. The next day, he changed his mind.

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A new documentary screening in New Zealand this week focuses on the lives of the leitis of Tonga, transgender women with traditional roles at court and in church. The film, called “Leitis in Waiting,” shows that they also face discrimination and even punishment. We have more from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.

European Space Agency / Wikimedia Commons

On her first tour of the South Pacific as Prime Minister, New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern arrives in Tonga today. She will find much of the country still devastated by Cyclone Gita and the government in disarray. Neal Conan has more in today’s Pacific News Minute.

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Later this week, Tonga’s freshly elected parliament will gather to elect a prime minister and form a new government – which is expected to look a great deal like the last government after the ruling Democratic Party scored a resounding victory two weeks ago. We have details from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

The King of Tonga issued a royal decree last week that dissolved parliament and set elections a year early. The decision represents a vote of no confidence in the government of the country’s first democratically elected Prime Minister and a test for democracy itself. We have more, from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.

Asia Pacific Dance Festival
Asia Pacific Dance Festival

Dance in Tonga is still a village thing, and people devote hours daily after work to practice for important occasions.  Separate groups of men and women perform, sometimes in spectacular groups of several hundred at a time, with intricate hand gestures, bobbing feather head pieces in unison.   HPR’s Noe Tanigawa reports some of Tonga’s finest will be here next week for the Asia Pacific Dance Festival.

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

In Tonga, a constitutional amendment proposes to transfer more power from the King to the Prime Minister. Democratic reform, according to its supporters; critics call it a power grab. More from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.

▲Bonard▼ / Flickr
▲Bonard▼ / Flickr

A sheriff’s captain from Nevada got an unusual assignment last month. Joe Duffy went to the Kingdom of Tonga to help authorities there with a rising drug gang problem. We have details from Neal Conan in Today’s Pacific News Minute.

ITU Pictures / Flickr

The first commoner elected Prime Minister of Tonga has survived an effort to oust him lead by the country’s Lords. Akilisi Pohiva won the vote of no confidence, and then fired his Finance Minister, who abstained on the ballot. We have more from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.

Wikipedia Commons
Wikipedia Commons

Celebrations continue in Suva and Singapore, after Fiji's Rugby Seven and swimmer Joseph Schooling won gold medals at the Olympic Games in Rio De Janeiro.  That's the first gold for Singapore and the first medal of any kind for Fiji.  As we hear from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute, Tonga has medal hopes for the Winter Games, two years from now.