A distinguished academic, Patrick V. Kirch, Chancellor's Professor Emeritus of Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley, who specializes in the ancient Pacific, urged Tonga's Prime Minister 'Akilisi Pohiva to protect the Va'epopua Sia Heu Lupe mound complex from desecration two years ago. Today he has released to Matangi Tonga the letter he wrote to the PM. Prof Kirch said he could not remember ever getting a reply to his letter:
6 August 2015
Prime Minister 'Akilisi Pohiva
Government of Tonga
Your Excellency the Prime Minister:
I write this letter as an archaeologist who specializes in the ancient cultures of the Pacific Islands, and one who many years ago (in 1976) carried out an archaeological study of Niuatoputapu Island in the Kingdom of Tonga.
I am deeply concerned by recent reports that the Va'epopua Sia Heu Lupe mound complex, first described by Captain James Cook in 1777, and later mapped by pioneering Bishop Museum archaeologist W. C. McKern, are threatened by plans for a housing development. These archaeological sites are a priceless legacy of the ancient Tongan past and deserve to be protected for future generations to appreciate.
I urge you to take whatever steps are necessary within the Tongan government and parliament to set the land upon which these priceless sites sit aside as a permanent preserve, and to protect these monuments from potential desecration.
Patrick V. Kirch
Chancellor's Professor Emeritus of Anthropology
Cc: Pulupaki Ika, Ministry of Internal Affairs