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Protect Tonga's priceless sites from desecration

Berkeley-California, USA

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
Parliament House
Government of Tonga
Nuku’alofa, Tongatapu

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.

Respectfully yours,
Patrick V. Kirch
Chancellor's Professor Emeritus of Anthropology

Cc: Pulupaki Ika, Ministry of Internal Affairs


Thank you for sharing this letter. It pains me to know that friends and supporters of Tonga's heritage, outside of Tonga, are so concerned about our heritage, while some of us Tongans are busy destroying it for political gains.-  'Ana Maui Taufe'ulungaki