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Petition urges Parliament to save Popua's ancient Sia complex

Nuku'alofa, Tonga
Led by Dr 'Ana Koloto the Popua sia petitioners arrive at Parliament. Nuku'alofa, Tonga 11 August 2015.
A petition signed by 700 calling for the restoration and preservation of Tonga’s cultural heritage in the complex of sia heu lupe and related mounds in Popua that are endangered by a settlement subdivision, was submitted to Parliament on Tuesday, 11 August at Parliament Office.

The petition which gathered the signatures in a week after being circulated online was presented by Dr ‘Ana Koloto the Director of USP Tonga. It was to be signed by Lord Vaea, Tongatapu 1 Noble’s Representative for submission to parliament through the Acting Clerk of the House Dr Sione Vikilani.

Historian Dr Wendy Pond with Paul Johansson, Pasimata Vi Taunisila, Maopa Kupu and Tevita Tu’ipulotu supported the presentation of the petition.

Dr Pond said they studied the complex of at least seven sia, five of which have distinguishing central pits that indicate they were sia hei lupe or chiefly pigeon snaring mounds. They had surveyed this complex in terms of latitude and longitude and had appealed to the Minister of Lands to preserve it.

She said, however “it appears that this complex remains very seriously endangered and it's very important as sia heu lupe complex of pigeon mounds is situated in conjunction with the mala’e of the Tu’i Tonga and linked to an occasion when ‘Aho’eitu founded the Tu'i Tonga lineage - so this is a landscape of immense historical importance to Tonga.”

”In addition, Tongans now have a generation of PhDs who are writing Tongan history by combining the written record with knowledge that's being held orally and passed down, while rediscovering that the western world's written record is inaccurate and does not at all express the loving heart that Tongans unless we can preserve this complex we cannot reconstruct the history that we would want to be told in a Tongan way."

Stop the settlement

Lord Vaea said because of the historical importance of sia heu lupe this petition was to stop the subdivision for the settlement of Popua.

He had also written to the Chief Justice about this matter and was told to either charge the Ministry or review the Act for the Preservation of Archeological Objects 1982 but these actions were put on hold awaiting this petition.

"This petition is based on the settlement of Patangata and Popua as there was a Privy Council decision in the 1980s not to divide it - but it was surprising when they announced on radio last week that they will carry out the subdivision of Patangata and Popua."

Lord Vaea said his letter was based on reasons that this was not a suitable area for settlement by people because it was previously a rubbish dump, it was not safe because when the sea level rises it threatens the settlement and additionally that the Ministry of Lands had not dealt with a letter of appeal from Wendy Pond in March 2011.

This a very important historical site as it showed the high standards Tongan settlement was in the past, he said.

Dr Koloto said they are representing the voices of those who carried out various academic researches in Tonga on the importance for heritage sites to be maintained in Tonga.

The House is expected to resume next week on Monday, 17 August.

See article:

New subdivision a death sentence for heritage site


Ko e taumu'a 'a e temokalati (liberal) ko e 'open to new behavior or opinions, and willing to discard traditional values'. Ko e faka'ulia hono laku ki tu'a 'a e ngaahi faka'ilonga faka-hisitolia 'a e lotu faka-Kalisitiane meihe ngaahi 'ofisi faka-pule'anga 'i 'Amelika ni, hange ko e Fekau 10, ngaahi kolosi 'oku tu'u he ngaahi feitu'u faka-pule'anga etc. Liliu hingoa ngaahi hala faka-hisitolia etc. 'Oku 'i ai hala faka-hisitolia 'i he feitu'u ko'eni 'oku mau nofo ai na'e ui ko e 'Army Street', kuo liliu ia ki he 'Cesar Chavez' fakatatau pe ki he fiema'u 'a e kau 'liberal'. Ko e pule'anga fo'ou ko'eni na'e toki fili kiai 'a Tonga ko e me'a ia 'oku ui ko e 'liberal' pea tene uesia lahi 'a e ngaahi koloa tukufakaholo 'a e fonua, he 'oku taumu'a pehe pe ia........SAIA

There is much to be said about and in support of historical site preservation. The issues that have to be explored and understood as factors in a Lost/Risk/ Benefit study are many. One of these factors is: If Popua is to be preserved as a historical site, what alternative to have for people that are in need of places to live? Given the fact that Tonga's population continues to grow and moving to the Nuku'alofa and the suburbs of Nuku'alofa seems to be the most preferred. It appears that sooner then later, the Tonga Government will have to deal with a decision either to keep a historical site or dealing with homeless dwellers or the opposite. Whether by informed decision or not, the powers at hand must have concluded to overlook the historical significance of Hala 'o Vave, Vai Ko Oloolo, Vai ko Tufuenga and other historical sites in Kolomotu'a in favor of residential urban development that is now Hala 'o Vave, Halaano, Sopu all the way to Ho'ofoa and 'Isileli. I missed these places, for all my younger years was at Hala 'o Vave and trying to clear debris from Vai ko Oloolo ...but I'll be selfish to support preserving my past in the expense of the present and future of the people who now occupy and raise their families in Kolomotu'a. Preservation is important and should be considered if we have the luxury of alternative land for people to call home. If push comes to shove, the preservation and enhancement of the quality of life for the current and future human race should be the determining factor ... not past historical sites and artifacts, with all due respect. Malo 'aupito.

Malo Mafi, ka ko e ngaahi feitu'u ko'eni 'o Kolomotu'a 'oku ke me'a kiai 'oku 'ikai 'i ai ha'ane fu'u felave'i fefe ki hota hisitolia hange ko e ki'i konga kelekele koia 'i Popua. Ko e ki'i konga kelekele si'isi'i pea kapau 'e fakahaofi koe'uhi ko hota hisitolia he 'ikai ke 'homeless' ai ha taha ia. 'Oku mahu'inga ke tau tauhi hotau tukufakaholo na'e tuku'au mei ai 'a hota tupu'anga. Kapau 'e kamata ke tau faka'auha (discard) 'a popua, mahalo ko e hoko mai ko Mala'ekula ngalingali na'a lava nofo ai ha toko uangeau, ke 'oua na'a 'homeless' ha taha. Ko 'eku talanoa atu ki he kaveinga ngaue 'a e 'liberal' ko e 'discard of tradidtiona values'. hange ko e ISIS 'oku nau faka'auha 'a e ngaahi koloa faka-hisitolia 'o 'Irag'. 'Oku tau faka'amu ke 'oua na'a hoko 'eni 'i hota fonua tupu'anga........SAIA