As a New Zealander of European descent and no immediate connections to the Tongan community either in Tonga or here in NZ - I have felt compelled to write to your paper and express my feelings on the developments unfolding in your homeland. Sending letters to editors is not something I make a habit of - but such was my distress at what I saw after holidaying in Tonga 10 years ago - that I feel I want to praise those who are now seeking change and fighting against the forces of evil and corruption that so clearly exist in this anachronistic Kingdom.
We holidayed in Tonga back in 1994 quite by chance - we had intended to holiday in the Soloman Islands - but we missed our flight due to a mix up with our travel agent and had to quickly choose another destination - and so we found ourselves in the glorious Vava'u Islands. The scenery and people were a delight but the poverty that surrounded us was truly shocking. What was more shocking was the obvious corruption that was practiced so openly, which effectively caused the poverty. To us the enormous gap between rich and privileged (mostly royalty and extended nobility) and the poor was too much to stomach. We have traveled to many parts of Asia but we felt the poverty we saw in Tonga was worse than many of those Asian third world countries. We couldn't believe that this level of poverty was on NZ's doorstep.
We stayed in a German-owned hotel where the staff were badly treated by the owner. We, as Kiwis, had got to know and like a number of the staff who were absolutely wonderful to us. One night when we and the other guests were dining - the guest rooms were burgled (all the rooms were done over - except our room) - we realised then how much the staff detested their employer and how deep the problems were in Tonga generally with that one incident. We vowed we would never visit again until positive change occurred.
Now is that time - I do hope your people fight for everything that is rightfully theirs and has been stolen from them - because you are a beautiful people who have been shockingly abused for too long. I can just sense from what I have read over the last few weeks that a revolution for change is near - never give up - the time for real change in Tonga has arrived NOW! I hope it is peaceful - but sometimes sacrifices have to be made - and blind loyalties forsaken in the pursuit of lasting change - I KNOW the Tongan people have it within them - and feel certain real change is imminent.
My STRONGEST best wishes and support for your cause,
Auckland, New Zealand.
getbrett [at] runbox [dot] com