Thousands of villagers from the outer islands of Tonga arrived by boat at Nuku'alofa on the main island on Saturday (8 November) to take part in the hundredth anniversary of constitutional rule in Tonga.
Thousands of villagers from the outer islands of Tonga arrived by boat at Nuku'alofa on the main island on Saturday (8 November) to take part in the hundredth anniversary of constitutional rule in Tonga. The celebrations were led by King Taufa'ahou Tupou the Fourth and the Royal family.
In the afternoon the people packed into the park alongside the Royal Palace for several hours of traditional dancing. The King's youngest daughter was among the first to take part, while other members of Royal family joined in the singing from the Royal box. It is a Tongan custom to show appreciation of dancers by giving money, but as that would not be fitting for the Royal participants, the people laid gifts at their feet instead.
About five thousand people sat down for the feast that had been prepared, and between them they are three thousand suckling pigs, two thousand chickens, hundreds of crayfish and crabs, and thousands of pounds of water melon.
Earlier in the day about twenty thousand people - roughly a fifth of Tonga's total population - gathered at the Royal tomb to see king Tupou unveil a statue of his mother, the late Queen Salute.It was a solemn occasion, but the unveiling met with a little difficulty. No matter how hard the king pulled, the cloth covering the statue refused to fall. After several anxious moments a ladder was called for, and a humble subject helped to free the covering.
The festivities were also attended by visiting dignitaries from other countries, including high commissioners from Britain, Canada, and Australia.
The Tonga Constitution is based on that granted in 1875 by king George Tupou the First, and it provides for a government consisting of the Sovereign, a Privy Council and Cabinet, a Legislative Assembly and a Judiciary. It allows the Privy Council limited powers of law-making.