In 1800 the warriors from the Hihifo district of Tongatabu fought the people of the Hahake district. When Hihifo won, they erected a monument in Hahake to commemorate their victory. This was a monument to the idea that small things can lead to big things. This monument was not made of stone or wood, it was of bodies of the people of Hahake who had been killed in this war. The heap of bodies was so high that one could see ‘Eua island from its top.
The death of so many people was a big thing indeed, and it happened because of many little things that had their start many years before in the household of the 5th Tuikanokupolu chief, Maafuotu’itonga. One of the wives, Kavakipopua was not as high in rank as one of the other wives, Latutama. This was not a big thing; but you see, little things can lead to big things.
Two of the sons of Latutama grew to be important chiefs in Tonga. The oldest son, Tupoulahi, became the Tuikanokupolu after his father was dead. As the Tuikanokupolu, he was the supreme ruler of the Hihifo district of Tonga. When this son, Tupoulahi, died, he had no sons to replace him, so his title as Tuikanokupolu was offered to his brother, Maealiuaki. But neither Maealiuaki or Maealiuaki’s son, Mulikihaamea, wanted to become the Tuikanokupolu.
At this point, it appeared that the title was going to go to their half-brother, Muimui. However, the mother of Muimui was not as high in rank as the mother of Tupoulahi and Maealiuaki, so the children of Tupoulahi and Maealiuaki were jealous. They did not want the title of their grandfather passing to relatives who were not as high in rank as they were. Jealousy between brothers, sisters and cousins is often just a little thing, but you see little things can lead to big things.
Tupoulahi had a daughter, Tupoumoheofo. She certainly did not want her father’s half-brother, Muimui, to be the Tuikanokupolu. Since neither her uncle or her cousin wanted to take the title, she did a very unusual thing, she took the title of Tuikanokupolu upon herself. Although some women in Tonga were higher in rank than even the highest chiefs, no woman had ever become the Tuikanokupolu. This was still a little thing, but you see, little things can lead to big things.
When Tupoumoheofo became the Tuikanokupolu, it prevented her uncle Muimui from getting this title. Muimui had a son, Tukuaho, and Tukuaho was angry at his cousin because she had prevented his father from becoming the Tuikanokupolu. Tukuaho came to Tongatabu from ‘Eua island and he sent his cousin fleeing to Vava’u island. Then Tukuaho established his father, Muimui, as the Tuikanokupolu. Tupoumoheofo did not forgive Tukuaho for driving her from Tongatabu. When people do not forgive it is sometimes a little thing, but you see, little things can lead to big things.
In Vavau, Tupoumoheofo stayed in the household of two chiefs, ‘Ulukalala and Tupouniua. She told them bad things about Muimui and Tukuaho. She talked evil about them for years and made ‘Ulukalala and Tupouniua resent Muimui and Tukuaho. People talking bad about others behind their backs is a little thing, but you see, little things can lead to big things.
When Muimui died, his title passed to his son, Tukuaho. Tukuaho is famous for being a very cruel chief. Right and wrong did not matter for him. Some chiefs in Tonga were like that at this time. Although Tukuaho’s cruelty was a very bad thing, it was a little thing, but you see, little things can lead to big things.
Because Tupoumoheofo talked bad about her cousin, Tukuaho, she made Tupouniua and ‘Ulukalala angry at him also. Tupouniua first had the idea that they should assasinate Tukuaho, but ‘Ulukalala didn’t want to. But as ‘Ulukalala heard stories about Tukuaho’s cruelty and heard Tupoumoheofo’s bad words about her cousin, he changed his mind. It was Tupouniua who crept into Tukuaho’s house and clubbed him to death on the night of April 22, 1799. This was no longer a little thing.
Since Tukuaho, the Tuikanokupolu, was the supreme chief of the Hihifo district, the people of Hihifo attacked ‘Ulukalala to take revenge for the death of their chief. ‘Ulukalala and the people of Hahake drove back the warriors of Hihifo. Some of the Hihifo warriors sought refuge in a house which was a sanctuary where they should have been safe from their enemies. But right and wrong meant nothing to ‘Ulukalala. The house was burned, everyone inside was killed, some were eaten. This was a big thing.
‘Ulukalala returned to Vavau, but before he did, he established a white pig to be the Tuikanokupolu, that is, to be the chief of the Hihifo people. In the following year, 1800, the warriors of Hihifo prepared their revenge. They took mats, tapa cloth and other presents and marched into Hahake. They told the people of Hahake that these were presents that they were taking to a funeral. There was no funeral. The warriors of Hihifo were concealing weapons in the mats and the tapa cloth that they were carrying. When the warriors of Hihifo were in the midst of Hahake, they revealed their weapons and started to fight. They killed many, many people and built that monument of dead bodies that we spoke of. This was the biggest thing of all.
If we could go back to Tonga to 1800 and see the dead, we would weep. That would be so terrible a sight, that we would be different people from then on, just from seeing the dead. If you see little things that you or ot others are doing, think of this story about little things that led to big things. Then, if you control your anger, or warn others what might happen, you will only be doing a little thing, but you see, little things can lead to big things. Papaihia:
Church and State in Tonga; Sione Latukefu, L.D.S Church Family History Library, University of Utah Library.
The Friendly Islands: History of Tonga; Noel Rutherford, ed.; University of Utah Library.
Ae Tohi Hohoko Na’e Fai e he Tamaha; Private Collection.
Latukefu, Sione. Church and State in Tonga Revised: February 22, 1996 Copyright © 1996 Daniel (Taniera) Longstaff