Our People, Our Treasure, Our Export

So, you’ve found that there can be a few Tongans in your neighbourhood ? The figures might be dated but they are interesting none-the-less. Informal discussions with statisticians at the Tonga Department of Statistics estimates that a full third of Tongans now reside outside of Tonga.

American Samoa:1,000
Australia: 6,700(1991)
New Zealand: 23,175 (1991)
 Auckland Area82.7%
United States: 17,606 (1990)
 Washington State448
Other US states that showed a reasonably sizable Tongan community were:

It was estimated that in the 1990 Census figures, they were undercounted by a net of 4 milion people and 24% of that was from the ethnic minority population. It is also interesting to note that the total number of Tongans in the US during the 1980 Census was 6,226 and a decade later it climbed to 17,606, representing a total of 1138 immigrants from Tonga to the US in each of those ten years.

So what happens when you put a lot of Tongans somewhere far away from their homeland ? Well, some generations later pilgrims return to seek out their ancestry, while others expand and extrapolate on their traditions, modifying, enriching, corrupting as they go along. Ours is a rich heritage which by 1/3 we have the opportunity to proselytise around the world. [ref: Tonga Statistics Department, Press Release 1995]
[ref: e-mail William Afeaki (corrections Dec 3, 1998)]