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Pigs and fowl are abundant and free ranging. Cows, sheep, and goats also are present. Intensive shellfishing is conducted along the shores, and there is an abundant fish supply. Royal visits and funerals call for the preparation of large amounts of food. Roasted piglets are laid in the center of a pola tray made of woven palm tree leaves. Root crops, meats, and shellfish prepared in the 'umu underground oven are added and garnished with fresh fruits, decorative flowers, ribbons, and balloons. In villages, food is consumed while one sits on a mat; in towns, tables are used.
Land Tenure and Property. All land is owned by the king, the nobles, and the government.
Foreigners cannot own land by constitutional decree. Owners have the right to sublet land to people who pay a tribute, traditionally food. Every citizen above age 16 is entitled to lease eight and a quarter acres of land from the government for a small sum, but the growing population and its concentration in the capital make it increasingly difficult to exercise this right. Traditional society had at its top the ha'a tu'i kings , followed by the hou'eiki chiefs , ha'a matapule talking chiefs , kau mu'a would-be talking chiefs , and kau tu'a commoners.
Culture of Tonga - Wikipedia
All titles were heritable and followed the male line of descent almost exclusively. This hierarchical social structure is still essentially in place. Tribute to the chiefs was paid twice a year. Agricultural produce and gifts such as butchered animals, bark cloth, and mats were formally offered to the Tu'i Tonga and, through him, to the gods in an elaborate ceremony called 'inasi.
The king now visits all the major islands at least once a year on the occasion of the Royal Agriculture Show. The gift giving and formalities at the show closely resemble those of the 'inasi. The constitution eliminated the title of chief and introduced the title of nopele noble , which was given to thirty-three traditional chiefs. Only nobles and the king are now entitled to own and distribute land. An increasingly market-oriented economy and an expanding bureaucracy have recently added a middle class that runs the gamut from commoners to chiefs. Newly acquired wealth, however, does not easily overcome social barriers rooted in history.
Often claims to higher social status are established by claiming kinship to holders of aristocratic titles. The Kingdom of Tonga is a constitutional monarchy. The constitution prescribes a legislative assembly with twenty members representing the thirty-three nobles and twenty members elected as people's representatives. In , both groups were reduced to nine each. Twelve other members are appointed by the king: In the election, six of the people's representatives belonged to the new Pro-Democracy Movement that in became the Democratic Party founded by 'Akilisi Pohiva.
The kingdom is divided into districts, each headed by a district officer. Every three years, each village elects a town officer who represents the government and holds village meetings fono where government regulations are made known. Every villager above 16 years of age is entitled to attend. People do not take part in the decision-making process but show approval or dissent through their implementation of the instructions. Every citizen is entitled to free primary education, a plot of land at age 16, and free medical care.
Hospitals, dispensaries, and pharmacies are distributed over the territory. Smaller government clinics are present in some villages in the outer islands. To support the modernization of the country, in the Tongan Development Bank was established. Financed by the World Bank and contributions from New Zealand and Australia, it provides low-interest loans for entrepreneurs.
Foreigners who want to invest in the country need a Tongan partner for any economic venture. Peace Corps, the Japanese Overseas Cooperation Volunteers, and development organizations connected with the British, New Zealand, and Australian governments are among the active aid agencies. They work in the fields of education, health, agriculture, and entrepreneurship.
Division of Labor by Gender. The introduction of wage labor in twentieth century privileged men, altering an equilibrium between genders that had lasted for centuries. Cash is now an element of wealth, and wage-earning men have easier access to it. However, the old egalitarian attitude toward the two sexes has not been altered by economic and technological changes.
In contemporary offices, shops, and banks, working women are prominent. In villages, most men take care of the land or tend animals. Women weave mats and make bark cloth. Both women and men actively participate in parenting. Food preparation is shared between the male and female members of a family.
Culture of Tonga
The preparation of the 'umu underground oven , now restricted to Sundays and special occasions, is an almost exclusive male activity. Older children help with activities and household chores. The Relative Status of Women and Men. The hierarchical system's emphasis on the higher status of females guarantees an equal role in society for females and males in spite of the fact that men usually inherit titles and land. There are no explicit rules for marriage, and couples are formed through reciprocal free choice. Pronounced social stratification discourages marriages between people of vastly different social status.
Divorce is legal and not uncommon. During a wedding, the two kainga involved exchange mats, bark cloth, and food. On the day of the ceremony, the bride and groom "wear their wealth. Tonga has an almost universal rate of literacy. Kinship ties are of paramount importance.
The two major kin groups are famili family and kainga extended family. The 'ulumotu'a head of the family presides over this group.
A kainga consists of relatives living in different households in the same village or in several villages. They are related by bilateral relationships of consanguinity in a cognatic system. Membership in kin groups is restricted to fewer and closer relatives than it was in the past. The parameters in establishing hierarchy at any level of society are gender and age.
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A female is always considered higher in rank than a male. Inheritance of land and titles goes through the male line, and primogeniture rule usually is enforced. Because of traditional brother-sister avoidance, year-old boys sleep in a separate house. Though avoidance is less strictly enforced now, it still affects daily life.
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Topics such as sex and activities such as watching videos are not shared between brothers and sisters. Infant Care and Child Rearing. The birth of a child is among the most important events, but the official social introduction of a child to the community is celebrated only at the end of a child's first year.
Mothers increasingly give birth in modern hospitals, and infant mortality has decreased.
Infants typically are breast-fed and sleep in their parents' bed until age 5 to 8 years. Parents are the main caretakers, but in an extended family everybody contributes to parenting. This feeling of shared parenting extends as far as the village and even further. Older siblings often care for younger ones, but compulsory education has made this practice less common.