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Tongans overseas

Kyoto, Japan

Dear Editor,

I write in reference to an article entitled “.“Kei to lalo tu’’unga ako Tonga ‘‘Amelika”” featured in the Taimi ‘‘o Tonga, Vol 16, No.28, 12th April, page 5. The article gives an overview of the results produced in a series of demographic reports on Asians and Pacific Islanders in the State of California, produced by the Asian Pacific American Legal Center of Southern California”. These reports are available online.

My attention was drawn to the middle of the first column of this one page article.

‘“I hono fakafehoanaki ‘oe ako .’I he komiuniti Tonga ‘‘o Kalefonia pea moe komiuniti Tonga ‘o Nu’usila, oku fakafuofua koe peseti e 24% ‘‘oe kakai Tonga ‘I Nu’’usila ‘‘oku ‘‘osi ma’’u mata’’itohi Bachelor mei he ‘Univesiti

‘Oku ha heni .’ae kehekehe ko ia .’oe tu’unga ‘‘oe ako ‘‘I he kakai Tonga ‘‘o Kalefonia moe kakai Tonga ‘‘I Nu’’usila…”.

According to the APALC report, 6% of Tongans in California have a Bachelor Degree. My interest is the comparison between the Tongans in New Zealand (National level) and California (one State). The latest 2001 New Zealand population census recorded 40,716 Tongans of which 23,334 are aged 15 and above. Thus the figure in the quote above, implies 9,771 (24% of Total Tongan), or 5,600 (24% of age 15 and above) Tongans in New Zealand have a Bachelor Degree.

However, with reference to the 2001 Statistics New Zealand data available on the ““Highest Qualification and Sex by Pacific Peoples Ethnic Groups”, the results are as follows.

Highest Qualification Tongan Aged 15&
Over (%)
Total Tongan Population (%)
Bachelor Degree 570 2.4 1.3
Higher Degree 210 0.8 0.5
Total Degree 780 3.3 1.9

Source: Statistics New Zealand 2001 Census: Pacific Peoples. Table 7

This data is available online:

It is intriguing that the 2001 Statistics New Zealand census exemplifies contradictory results to the figure quoted in the Taimi ‘o Tonga article. As a researcher of Tongan International migration, I am interested to know if alternative recent reports about Tongans in New Zealand are available for up-to-date reference.

Malo ‘aupito,

Raelyn L. ‘Esau