The constitution eliminated the title of chief and introduced the title of nopele noble , which 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. In , both 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. 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. Division of Labor by Gender. 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. 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 oven , now 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. 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.
Voyages of Discovery , They can be his brothers,relatives close friends or men he has invited to join him. Due to a dearth of large trees suitable for building large war canoes, these canoes were often imported from Fiji. Samoa Among the most famous of the South Pacific's many countries, Samoa sits in the heart of Polynesia and has a culture to match. In villages, most men take care of the land or tend animals.
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. A female is always considered higher in rank than a male. Inheritance of land and titles goes through the male line, and primogeniture rule usually is enforced. Because of traditional brother-sister avoidance, year-old boys sleep in a separate house.
Though avoidance is less strictly enforced now, it still affects daily life. Topics such as sex and activities such as watching videos are not shared between brothers and sisters. Infant Care and Child Rearing.
The birth of a child is among the most important events, but the official social introduction of a child to the community is celebrated only at the end of a child's first year. Mothers increasingly give birth in modern hospitals, and infant mortality has decreased. Infants typically are breast-fed and sleep in their parents' bed until age 5 to 8 years. Parents are the main caretakers, but in an extended family everybody contributes to parenting.
This feeling of shared parenting extends as far as the village and even further. Older siblings often care for younger ones, but compulsory education has made this practice less common. Tongans are proud of their almost percent level of literacy. Government high schools limit enrollment by using a competitive examination and charging fees. Those who are not admitted can attend private religious high schools. There is a branch of the University of the South Pacific on Tongatapu. Sia'atoutai Theological College trains teachers.
An older couple whose children have left to form their own families may adopt from a younger couple with many children. A couple may decide to give a child to a relative of higher social or economic status, and many parents who work abroad leave their children with relatives. Children are present in private or public events and are almost never forbidden to look, observe, and learn.
The most important life events are celebrated with elaborate ceremonies that may last weeks in the case of weddings or funerals of royalty or nobles. These events include a complex pattern of gift exchanges; the preparation, consumption, and distribution of a large quantity of food; and speech giving. Pieces of bark cloth, mats, kava roots, and food are exchanged. Speakers use an elaborate figurative language.
Formal attire for men includes a tupenu skirt and a ta'ovala mat worn around one's waist and kept in place by a belt of coconut fiber. Prestigious old belts made of human hair also are used. A shirt with a tie and a jacket complete the attire. Women wear long dresses and ta'ovala as well.
The softness, color, and decorations of a ta'ovala indicate status and wealth. People shake hands when they meet, and relatives kiss by pressing each other's noses against their faces and soundly inhaling through the nose.
The men preparing the 'umu or roasting for a big feast do not eat with the guests and are allowed at the table only when the first round of people has finished eating and left. Most food is eaten with the hands, although silverware also is used. It is customary to wash one's hands at the beginning and end of a meal.
The gesture of raising the eyebrows in conversation expresses one's understanding of the speaker's speech and is an invitation to continue. It is difficult for people to admit failure in understanding or to respond negatively to requests. Christian churches exist in even the most remote villages. Bells or log drums call people for services at the crack of dawn.
After a failed attempt by Wesleyan missionaries to Christianize the islands in , they and other Christian missionaries were more successful in the mid-nineteenth century. Forty-four percent of Tongans belong to the Free Wesleyan Church. Wesleyanism is also the official religion of the state and the monarchy. Among the other major churches are the Roman Catholic Church Traditional medicine exists alongside Western medicine in the person of the faito'o native doctor.
Knowledge about medicine is passed on from parent to child.