Siaosi Tupou I Day

Siaosi Tupou I (King) Day

December 4
Located in the Pacific Ocean some 1,250 miles north of New Zealand, the island nation of Tonga consists of about 150 islands, 36 of which are inhabited, with a population of about 120,000. King George Tupou I, also known by his Tongan name of King Siaosi Tupou I, was the first king of the Pacific island nation. He took on the title on December 4, 1845, and the date is a Tongan national holiday.
Born into the extensive royalty of Tonga, Tupou wanted to be named king at an early age. But he was not recognized by the chiefs because he came from the small island of Ha'apai. Tupou resorted to military engagement to secure the cooperation of some chiefs. A series of political maneuvers over some 15 years, including earning the backing of local missionaries by promising to spread Christianity in the region, eventually made the ambitious Tupou to be legally named king of all the Tongan islands.
Tupuo's rule was marked by a number of landmark events. He abolished serfdom and introduced the nation's first written laws. He opened the country's first parliament and introduced its first constitution. He also forbade the purchase of Tongan land by foreigners, hoping in this way to stop what he saw as the exploitation of his people. Tupou ruled as king in a constitutional monarchy with legally-defined powers until his death in 1893.
Tonga honors King Tupou I for establishing much about their country, both good and bad, that still distinguishes it today.
CONTACTS:
General Consulate of Tonga in San Francisco
360 Post St., Ste. 604
San Francisco, CA 94108
415-781-0365; fax: 415-781-3964