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Petitioners urge Govt to safeguard Popua sia

Suva, Fiji

Petitioning Prime Minister 'Akilisi Pohiva and Members of Parliament, Kingdom of Tonga

Preserve Tonga's Cultural Heritage Site at Popua (Va'epopua Sia heu lupe)

The Popua mounds are an extremely significant cultural heritage site in Tonga that are under threat of development for housing.

We respectfully call for the Parliament and Ministers of Tonga to adhere to the Tonga National Cultural Policy and preserve this heritage site from housing development.

The Tongan Research Association has acknowledged the precariousness of the mounds relative to the reclamation project at a number of its meeting and these concerns were passed to government. 

Similarly in 2011 Dr. Wendy Pond wrote to the Minister of Lands about the Popua reclamation project and the almost certain destruction of the archaeological complex as a consequence. Her recommendation to alter the reclamation plan to avoid these sites was not acted upon.  

Legend tells us this heritage site was the birthplace of 'Aho'eitu, the first Tu'i Tonga (King of Tonga). Thank you to Professor David V. Burley for allowing us to cite his letter dated Aug. 3, 2015 sent to Hon. Lord Vaea, Nobles Representative in Parliament and former Secretary of the Tonga Traditions Committee.

Aside from this site being historically significant, the Popua mounds are further an inappropriate site for houses, as it is low lying and the people building houses there (mostly the poor landless families from the outer islands) will be severely affected by extreme weather events thus causing them to suffer even more. Building more houses in this area is a recipe for social, environmental and heritage disaster.

The first modern King of Tonga, George Tupou I, foresaw that there would come a day when his people would be “destroyed for lack of knowledge”.

We, the undersigned, ask the Honorable Members of Parliament, do not let this prophetic statement come true. Safeguard and preserve the Popua Sia for future generations and find another site for housing developments.

- Lea Kauvaka Hauula, Fiji

See also: New subdivision a death sentence for heritage site