Dr. Charles F. Urbanowicz / Professor of Anthropology
California State University, Chico / Chico, California 95929-0400
530-898-6220 [Office]; 530-898-6192 [Dept.]; FAX: 530-898-6143
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[This Page is printed from:

15 August 2003 [1]

© [All Rights Reserved.] This paper was originally written for a December 28, 1983, presentation at the Symposium entitled "Missions and Missionaries in the Pacific: An Overview" for the Annual Meeting of the American Historical Association, San Francisco, California. This current paper was placed on the WWW on August 15, 2003 as an "example" of ideas and writing of 1983. The text below is essentially unchanged from the original 1983 paper (with additions being indicated in [ ]'s below). In placing this paper on the WWW 20 years after it was written I attempt to demonstrate to my students that life is, in fact, cumulative and ideas develop out of previous ideas. I also follow the 1963 words of Sir Karl Popper [1902-1994]: "we can learn from our mistakes [stress added]" (Conjectures And Refutations: The Growth of Scientific Knowledge, 1963, page vii). Several of my earlier papers have already been placed on the WWW for student use, such as Urbanowicz 1965, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970a , 1970b, 1971, 1973, 1976a, 1976b, 1977, and 1980 (all referenced below); in placing them on the WWW, I was often reminded of the words of stanza 51 from the 1859 (first) edition translation of The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám of Naishápúr by Edward Fitzgerald (1809-1883)

"The Moving Finger writes; and having Writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it."

Please note the following: "The first Edition of the translation of Omar Khayyám, which appeared in 1859, differs so much from those which followed, that it has thought better to print it in full, instead of attempting to record the differences." W. Aldis Wright, n.d. [1932?], The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám And the Salámán And Absál of Jámí Rendered Into English Verse by Edward Fitzgerald (NY: A.L. Burt Company), page 119.

This 1983 paper dealt with some of my thoughts concerning the Polynesian Kingdom of Tonga which resulted from fieldwork in 1970-1971. Several papers and publications resulted from that fieldwork period (including research before and after the fieldwork) and are referenced below. I was last in Tonga in 1971.

Historical footnote: Born in Jersey City, New Jersey in 1942, I graduated high school in 1960 and after attending New York University in 1960-1961, I enlisted in the United States Air Force (1961-1965), was Honorably Discharged, and eventually received the B.A. in Sociology/Anthropology in 1967 from Western Washington State College (now Western Washington University). I began Graduate Work in Anthropology at the University of Oregon in September 1967 and received the M.A. in Anthropology in 1969. In July 1970 I went (with my wife) to do fieldwork in the Polynesian Kingdom of Tonga and was awarded the Ph.D. in 1972. For a complete résumé, please see I taught in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Minnesota for 1972-1973 and joined the faculty of California State University, Chico, in August 1973 and have been happily here ever since! At the time this paper was written and presented I held my academic appointment in the Department of Anthropology and was also the Associate Dean in The Center for Regional and Continuing Education at California State University, Chico (a position I held for 1977->1988); my telecommunication interests are clearly evident in the "Epilogue" for this 1983 paper.

TONGA: 1797-1800
TONGA: 1800-1822

[APPENDIX IV: OTHER SPECIFIC URBANOWICZ HISTORICAL WEB PAGES (in reverse chronological order: 1965 -> 1980)]


Anthropologists have long used various methods to deal with certain problems and ethnohistorical theories have been applied to numerous situations. Research on Pacific topics has accelerated in the 20th century and this paper focuses on specific changes in the Polynesian Kingdom of Tonga. Some brief comments are made about the future "isolation" of Pacific Islanders and the potential for communication by satellite.



For a considerable period of time, various anthropologists have utilized historical methodology to deal with certain problems. Nineteenth century anthropologists "drew heavily on historical materials to establish a comparative study of society and culture" (Cohn 1968: 441). Schewerin has pointed out that numerous factors contributed to the development of this research tool in the last century:

"...among them was a widespread concern within anthropology with problems of culture contact, culture change, acculturation, and similiar phenomena. Frequently ethnohistorical research could significantly enlarge the data base and provide greater time depth in tracing a particular sequence of culture change. (K.H. Schwerin 1976, 323-324.)

Twentieth century anthropologists coined the term "ethnohistory" to deal with the application of historical methods to a certain body of data. This methodology allows us to gather verifiable "ethnographic facts" for a specific group of people. The earliest appearance of the term "ethnohistory" in America occured in a 1909 work by the anthropologist Wissler. In dealing with data pertaining to Indians of New York State he wrote:

"In the main, all [of the authors in the volume] have followed the same general method of reconstructing the prehistoric culture by welding together the available ethno historical and archaeological data, a method justified by the failure to find neither local evidence of great antiquity nor indications of succssive or contemporaneous types." (Wissler 1909: xiii)

Snow's 1979 PresidentIal address to the American Society for Ethnohistory pointed out that researchers are stilll involved in important Indian issues and that "a discpline that pretends to live in the past can [still] have an exciting future" (D. Snow 1979: 208).

Contemporary ethnohistorians do not attempt to deal with vast histories of an entire culture but concetrate on specific people for a specific problem. Current ethnohistorical research allows us to document specific changes that occured for a particular group of people. The term "ethnohistory," however, is not synonymous with the term "culture history," as the distinguished Pacific historian H. E. Maude would have us believe (1971: 21). The term "ethnohistory" refers not to the writing of history but to the gathering of ethnographic facts of the past (Urbanowicz, 1977: 245). This is the same point that Tippett made in his interesting 1973 book entitled Aspects of Pacific Ethnohistory when he wrote of "ethnohistory as [a] research methodology" (1973: 1).

Research into Pacific matters is accelerating and significant Pacific work has been done by Biggs (1960), Maranda (1964), Oppenheim (1973), and Oliver (1974), to mention but a few. Much of my own Tongan published work and papers presented [Appendix III] has dealt with either "reconstructing" certain aspects of traditonal Tongan life or documenting the changes that have occured in this last of the Polynesian Kingdoms. I have attempted a "blend" of anthropology and history, as Dening pointed out in his outstanding 1966 article in The Journal Of Pacific History (1966: 42). I still, however, agree with Howe, who pointed out in 1979 that this "blending" has yet to really come about (K. Howe, 1979: 89). This present paper focuses in on one aspect of change in Tonga: a few selected Christian missionaries who were the main agents of introducing Western religion into Tonga.



Tonga, a group of islands in the South Pacific, is a Constitutional Monarchy under his Majesty King Taufa'ahau Tupou IV [born 1918 -> ]. The territorial boundaries of the Kingdom were established in 1887 to be between 15 degrees south and 23 degrees south and 173 degrees west and 177 degrees west. This was done by King George Tupou I (a Great-Great-Great Grandfather of the current monarch).

Named "The Friendly Islands" by Captain James Cook, R.N. [Royal Navy ] (1728-1779) in 1773, Tonga consits of some 150-200 islands, with a land mass of 269 square miles. The current population is approximately 100,000, with more than 95 percent of those being Tongan nationals. Research indicates that the island of Tongatapu was the first of the Polynesian islands to be settled from the Western Pacific and Carbon 14 dating indicates human occupation from at least 1140 B.C. (Groube, 1971: 303).

The islands of Tongatapu, the primary residential island of the sacred and secular leaders of Tonga, was the island that the Christian missionaries first landed on in 1797. Parts of the Tongan archipelago had been contacted by the Dutch navigators Schouten and Le maire in 1616 and various contacts followed as European expansion into the Pacific continued: 1743 (Tasman), 1767 (Wallis), 1773, 1774, 1777 ( Cook), Maurelle (1781), La Perouse (1787), 1789 and 1792 (Bligh), 1791 (Edwards), and 1793 (D'Entrecasteaux, Labillardiere, and Malaspina). These contacts, lasting from days to weeks, made Tongans aware of Europeans and new technology. With increased contact, opportunities arose for Tongans to travel beyond their immediate horizons. Europeans not only introduced Tongans to "new" technologies which were superior to indigenous products, but they also took Tongans with them to Australia, New Zealand, and elsewhere. The Tongan term papalangi, or palangi, literally means "skyburster" but not because Euroamericans came down from the sky but perhaps Euroamericans literally broke the sky for Tongans by taking them beyond their own local immediate horizons.

The publications of the various navigators also made Europeans aware of Tonga and the proselytization of the peoples of the Pacific ernestly began in 1797. Oliver has pointed out the role of the "Evangelical Revival" (1962: 98) in influencing Pacific events. As Wood indicated in a volume entitled Overseas Missions of the Australian Methodist Church, the revival not only led to the formation of missionary societies, but it also "stimulated Wesleyan missionaries, and others, to go to the ends of the earth" (1975: vii).


TONGA: 1797-1800

The islands of Tonga, along with Tahiti, were the first to receive missionaries from the Missionary Society of London (established in 1795) and later termed the LMS or London Missionary Society. After first leaving missionaries in Tahiti, the LMS vessel Duff reached Tonga on April 10, 1797.

As contacts with Europeans gradually increased in intensity from 1616, a gradual shift was made in Tonga: from a relatively closed island society, Tongan society developed into an open and perhaps more egalitarian one. It was a period when Tongans were exposed to many new individuals and new ideas.

The LMS attempt of 1797-1800 ended in a debacle: one missionary married a Tongan woman, one left shortly after arrival, three were killed in a battle in 1799, and the remaining five survived only by hiding until their safe removal could be accomplished in 1800. The reasons for the failure are numerous and one cannot place the blame solely on either the Tongans (Wood, 1932: 29) or the missionaries (Latukefu, 1974: 25); the printed comments that the missionaries left behind, however, planted the seeds for the success of the subsequent missionary attempts in the 19th century.

Part of the reasons for the failure of the 1797-1800 attempt was due to the fact that the LMS had to abandon the Tongan and Tahitian missions when the Duff was captured by the French in September 1798. A second voyage into the Pacific with 50 new missionaries for the islands and fresh supplies was aborted and the captured missionaries were returned to london.

The 1797-1800 failure was also due to the fact that there were several European residents in Tonga in 1797 who were definitely not of the missionary mold: various beachcombers had been in residence for over a year when the Duff arrived, and although they were initially of aid in helping the LMS missionaries get established, they soon began telling the Tongans that the missionaries were mere commoners while they, the beachcombers, were of more importance. Perhaps the Tongans were convinced by the beachcombers when they compared the beachcomber lifestyle with those of the missionaries: the beachcombers lived in the island way while the missionaries continued to dress in heavy jackets and trousers and looked askance at many traditional Tongan customs.

Of all of the missionaries of the 1797-1800 period, only George Vason made the best impression on the Tongans. He was the one who married a Tongan woman and he received an estate from a Tongan patron. Vason also went so far as to have himself tattooed in the Tongan fashion. His actions were frowned upon by the LMS and in an 1801 report of the society they wrote:

" has chosen to remain at Tongataboo (but in such a state of mind and conduct as to afford no expectation of any benefit [to the LMS] being derived from his continuance there,) Anon., 1801: 124.)

Vason left the islands in 1801 and made his "peace" with the world in his 1810 publication entitled An Authentic Narrative of Four Years' Residence At Tongataboo, One of the Friendly Islands. Published in London, the book had a chapter entitled "The failure of the [LMS] mission considered, and the reflection on missions in general." Vason pointed out the temptations in the islands and the need to send out missionaries to live in companies: these should be married men with families! In addition, Vason pointed out the need for regular supplies for the missionaries. His words were well-heeded as the following statement from Walter Lawry, the missionary who arrive in 1822, clearly pointed out:

"...inasmuch as the only importance attached to the character of the Missionaries is derived from their being annually visited by the relations (as the natives term it) and replenished with such property as effectively secures the natives in our favour. And we are all most decidedly of the opinion that had this measure been adopted by the Directors of the [LMS] Mission begun here 25 years ago, it would have prevented its ultimate failure. (W. Lawry, Journal entry for 10 August 1823.)


TONGA: 1800-1822

The early part of the 19th century was a troubled one for visitors to Tonga. An 1805 report on a visit to Tonga stated that the Tongans "traded as if they had been accustomed to extortion all their lives" (Turnbull 1805: 311). Another 1805 account stated that stated that "Vessels touching at any of these islands in the great Southern Ocean ought to be always on their guard against the designs of the natives" (Anon., 1805). This occurred in less than three decades after Cook named the islands "The Friendly Islands."

Ships were wrecked, individuals massacred, but out of this came one of the most famous publications that also encouraged further missionary expansion into Tonga. In 1806 the vessel Port-au-Prince was captured and destroyed. Although most of the crew was killed, one who survived was a youth of fifteen named William Mariner who was adopted by a leading Tongan chief. Mariner lived in the islands from 1806 until 1810 and when he returned to England in 1817 his recollections were eventually published (Martin 1817). Both Vason and Mariner's works, and the tales told by others who had been in Tonga, encouraged the missionary societies in London to begin their works anew in the "Great Southern Ocean" and the various islands:

"Stirred afresh by these two narratives, and the accounts of the three [LMS] martyrs from the Duff's company, pious folk in England again began to worry about the heathen state of the Tongan Islands where there were close to twenty thousand sinners waiting to be saved (Wright & Fry, 1936: 241).

In this brief paper, I wish to add but a single comment about the publication of Mariner's stay in the Tongan Islands. As I have written elsewhere (Urbanowicz 1977), a considerable amount of convoluted thinking results when discussing Tonga precisely because of this publication: aboriginal Tonga is not contemporary Tonga and many 20th century Tongans have created their views of what aboriginal Tonga was by reading translations of what Europeans thought aboriginal Tonga was! Consider the following from a 1929 classic anthropological work on Tonga:

"Of the published works Mariner's Tonga Islands [first published in English in 1817] is by far the most extensive and possesses the merit of great accuracy and understanding on the part of its author. Doubtless Mariner's work is to be regarded as the standard by which modern work is to be checked. A comparison of Mariner's records with mine near the completion of my [1920-1921] sojourn in Tonga revealed surprising similarity in the two sets of data recorded more than a century apart, Judged by this standard the data recorded in this paper have a relatively high degree of accuracy in spite of 75 years of Christianity in Tonga." (E.W. Gifford, 1929: 3)

This statement is all well-and-good, but it must be read in conjunction with a comment which Gifford did not repeat from a 1924 article in The Journal of The Polynesian Society:

"Moreoever, many a Tongan's clear conception of the affairs of his nation in the first decade and a half of the 19th century is due to his reading Mariner's 'Tongan Islands' translated into Tongan." (E.W. Gifford, 1924: 289)

If anthropologists, or any researchers, are going to write about the processes of culture change, they owe it to the readers to present as much factual evidence as possible.



Walter Lawry was the second Methodist Missionary to Australia. He arrived in Australia in 1818 as the chaplain on the convict vessel Lady Castlereagh. (Samuel Leigh, the first Methodist Missionary arrived in 1815.) Almost from his immediate arrival Lawry longed for a mission station in Tonga:

"One of the L.M.S. survivors named Shelley had settled at Parramatta N.S.W. [New South Wales, Australia] after 1800. his widow often told a Wesleyan minister, Walter Lawry, about the 'Friendly Islands' and the tragic history she had heard from her late husband. At length Lawry succeeded in moving the British Conference of 1820 to appoint him to labour with another missionary in Tonga. In Lawry's anxiety he sailed before the other minister was chosen, and, accompanied by his wife and two artisans, he landed at Mu'a [on the island of Tongatapu] on 16th August, 1822." (A. Woods, 1932: 244)

Walter Lawry was very interested in serving in the Tongan Islands and he even purchased his own vessel for the trip from Sydney, Australia, to Tonga (W. Lawry, Diary entry for 18 June 1822). There are, however, some interesting comments in Lawry's Diary about his Tongan appointment; one must consider, for example, his Diary entry for 24 March 1821:

"I am informed that [the] Conference has appointed me to the Friendly Islands. I consider myself perfectly free to go or not to go, as I had no concern in the appointment. But I will cheerfully go there or anywhere else, when providence opens my way."

His concern was also evident in his entry of 7 April 1822:

"Received a large packet from England, among the rest, the printed Stations, where I see I am appointed to labour in the Friendly Islands - my mind not very settled about my destiny. The pain it will occasion my dear wife affects me worse than anythng."

Lawry's mission in Tonga, from August 16, 1822, until his departure on August 10, 1823, is an interesting one: depending on who is doing the writing, one gets various reasons for his departure. Consider, for example, a relatvely recent 20th century commentator:

"Eventually the opposition of the traditional [Tongan] priests and the [Tongan] people was so strong, and the constant threats to kill the missionary so affected Mrs. Lawry's health, that Lawry decided to abandon the mission." (S. Latukefu, 1974: 27-28)

Or consider an earlier 20th century writer:

"Mr. Lawry was received and given land by Fatu, son of Mulika'amea and father of the first Tugi, but the heathen [Tongan] priests persuaded the [Tongan] people to oppose him and even made plots against his life. These circumstances, with the constant irritation causes by the natives' stealing, affected Mrs. Lawry's spirits and health to such an extent that Mr. Lawry felt obliged to leave." (A. Woods, 1932: 44)

When Lawry and his wife and several other individuals arrived to establish the Wesleyan Mission station in 1822 they also utilized the services of the beachcombers, notably William Singleton who also survived the destruction of the Port-au-Prince. Lawry wrote in his Diary for 9 October 1822:

"Singleton's being on the island [of Tongatapu] has been a great blessing to us, not that he has any particular talents only being a plain honest man, and speaking our language as well as that of Tonga, we were enabled to communicate our intentions and acquire information."

With Singleton interpreting, Lawry acquired his land from a prominent chief and also received the protection of the chief.

Verbal assurances, however, did not suffice for Lawry. To ensure his safety he persuaded the Tongan chief to send his own son and another Tongan youth to Sydney, Australia. Lawry arrived on Tongatapu in August of 1822 and on October 26, 1822, he requested additional supplies and stated that "we have judged it proper to send two young men of respectability to the Colony [Sydney] as hostages" (W. Lawry, Diary entry for 26 October 1822). These two Tongans departed the islands on the same ship that brought Lawry and his wife and assistants and they stayed in Australia until the supply run to Tonga in the following year.

In Australia the hostages were looked after and served as individual representatives of Tongan culture. In one letter from Sydney to London in 1824, one individual wrote:

"The two chiefs from Tongataboo (Tattha and Footacarva) whom Mr. Lawry has sent as hostages, exhibited to us some curious specimens of their dancing and singing." (Mansfield, Letter of 9 August 1824, describing the events of February 7, 1824.)

On April 24, 1823, the Sydney Gazette reported that the two Tongan hostages were returning to Tonga:

"Tahtah and Footahcahva, the two natives of Tonga, have returned by the St. Michael. Those two fine men have gone home laden with presents from some of the most distinguished personages in the Colony." (Anon., 1823, Sydney Gazette, April 24, 1823, page 2.)

The two Tongans did more, however, than bring back some presents and a partial view of Euroaustralian culture. When they arrived back in Tonga on July 12, 1823, they also brought back word of what would be in store for the Tongans if the missionaries were mistreated: the Governor of the Australian Colony told them soldiers would be sent from Australia if the missionaries needed assistance. Lawry wrote in his Diary that upon hearing this message, the Tongan chief asked "why do not these white people go away? I suppose that some of their warriors will come by and by and kill us all" (W. Lawry, Diary entry of 26 July 1823). From this point on it was quite clear that the safety of Lawry and his entire group was in jeopardy and when the St. Michael departed for Australia in August, Lawry and some of his party were aboard!

Not only had the Tongans become disenchanted with Walter Lawry but Mrs. Lawry was in ill-health and expecting a child and London was also quite displeased with Lawry for making his own move to Tonga for Lawry wrote:

"I have just finished wading through an innundation of letters from the General Committee in which I am accused of many things very wrongfully and threatened with a vote of censure from Conference. And besides my station is removed from Tonga to Van Diemen's Land [Tasmania]. I am truly at my wit's end. Never was I in circumstances so painful [stress added]." W. Lawry, Diary entry of 26 July 1823).

It is quite clear from manuscript records that Lawry was in trouble and in 1822-23 Lawry had as many problems with the Tongans as with his own colleagues. He continued, interestingly enough, in the same entry of 26 July 1823, with the following:

"I never felt an inward call to go to any Foreign station, more especially after my marriage in New South Wales [Australia]. And if anything ever did drop from my pen when writing to the Committee which they considered as an offer to go myself to any of the South Sea Islands, they must have misunderstood my meaning. Or possibly (though I can hardly bring myself to believe it) I might, when urging the Committee to send Missionaries to the Friendly Islands, have not only said that I would not be afraid to go there, but I might in the warmth of my heart have said that if they appointed me I would go. Though of any such offer I have not the least recollection. But even admitting (not granting) that I did offer to go to the Friendly Islands, I am perfectly sure, I never consented to go to new Zealand nor even to Tonga, under such circumstances as those which the Committee were advised to report [stress added]."

Unfortunately, his written letters to London are indeed stronger than his "recollections" since he did want to go to Tonga and the following 1819 letter from Lawry to his Committee made this abundantly clear;

"I have in several of my letters spoken to you of Tongataboo (one of the Friendly Islands) as the fairest & best opening for a Wesleyan Missionary Station in these Seas. the inhabitants of the Friendly Islands visit from time to time those of the Society Islands, & appear extremely hospitable & friendly. I have conversed with several who have been ashote at Tongataboo & whose report is very friendly to the establishment of a Mission there. The Revd Saml Marsden has long marked it out for us & written to you to that effect but his letters were never acknowledged. I do long for a mission in the Friendly Islands and unto none is the opening so fair as unto us [stress added]." W. Lawry, Letter of 15 July 1819)

It is clear that Lawry wanted to go to Tonga. It is also quite clear that Lawry was reprimanded for going to Tonga. It is also extremely clear that Lawry "forgot" that he ever wanted to go to Tonga and that he was ordered to be "removed from Tonga to Van Diemen's Land" as his Diary of 28 July 1823 pointed out. So much for the Tongans of 1822-1823 "forcing" Lawry to abandon the mission! Wood, cited above, pointed out in his 1975 publication that Lawry was ordered to Van Diemen's Land. Wood, however, does not point out the reaction of the two Tongans who spent a year in Sydney as hostages for Lawry (Wood 1975: 24).

Leaving Tonga not for Tasmania but directly for England, Lawry cleared himself. In thinking for the future, Lawry left two young Englishmen on Tongatapu to look after the supplies and mssion settlement. Aware of the value of "hostages" for Missionary ends, two Tongans were taken by Lawry to England to ensure the safety of Lilley and Tyndall who remained in Tonga. This was a wise move, for Lilley later wrote in his Journal for 15 August 1824 of a story he had head that "at first they [the Tongans] were for taking the ship" but this plan failed to materialize; Lilley also added that:

"...about three months later when the ship was gone to the Colony the chief agreed to kill the whole of us that as the ship was gone and we had all the property with us that they might as well kill us and take the property."

This plan failed to materialize since the Tongan Chief wisely told his people that "as his relations had gone in the ship" to Australia and "would soon be back and what would he do if we were dead." The idea of hostages worked.

Lawry was vindicated for his brief sojourn in Tonga and by 1847 he had risen to the position of "Glorious 'General Superintendent of the Wesleyan Society's Mission in New Zealand and Visitor of the Mission in the Friendly Islands and Feejee Islands'" (Wright & Fry, 1936: 242).



"Tonga was first contacted by Europeans in 1616, but sustained contact did not begin until almost the end of the eighteenth century, following the voyages of Captain Cook. Despite considerable European intervention since then, including the indigenization of Christianity, Tonga has always been formally independent. The LMS arrived in 1797, but lasted only three years. The second mission effort, sponsored by the British Wesleyan Conference, did not begin until 1822 and lasted only one year. Both these missions to Tonga are generally regarded as failures, but they provided Tongans and missionaries aloke with important experiences in mission effort. Finally, what turned out to be a permanent mission was established by the Wesleyans in 1826." (S. Korn, 1978: 396)

In June of 1826, the Wesleyan Missionaries John Thomas [1786-1875] and John Hutchinson and their wives arrived on Tongatapu Island. This mission eventually proved successful and from 1826 onwards Tongans entered into sustained and continuous contact with Europeans.

"The vessel in which Mr. and Mrs. Thomas sailed was the Andromeda, of four hundred tons, which left Gravesend [England] on April 28th, 1825, and reached Sydney on October 14th. They had with them a man who had accompanied the Rev. Walter Lawry from the colony to the Friendly Islands, and was now engaged to act as a servant to the mission; also a native boy, Tamma, whom Mr. Lawry had brought with him. From this boy Mr. Thomas hoped to get much information during the voyage concerning the Tongan language...." (G. Rowe, 1885: 16).

Thomas and Hutchinson found some of the supplies Lawry had left behind for them and met Tyndall on Tongatapu. (Lilley, the other individual that Lawry had left behind in Tonga had returned to Australia and Thomas met him there while he was waiting for his boat to take him to Tonga.) Although Hutchinson left the islands in 1828, Thomas stayed until 1850 and then he returned to England. After a few years in England, he again worked in Tonga from 1855 to 1859; he then retired to England where he died in the late 19th century.

In 1826, Thomas and Hutchinson also found two additional individuals who definitely provided them with assistance in establishing their mission in Tonga: two Tahitians who had been convereted by the LMS in Tahiti had been working in Tonga for at least two months prior to the arrival of Thomas and Hutchinson! The two Tahitians stopped in Tonga in April of 1826 and were persuaded by a leading Chief to stay on Tongatapu Island; they received the Chief's protection, constructed the first church in Tonga, and opened the first school. As a 20th century missionary historian pointed out at a later date: "...these two Pacific Islanders, Hape and Tafeta, are the real founders of the Christian Church in Tonga." (E.E.V. Collocott, n.d., The Chalice of Life); also see Urbanowicz 1976. (In keeping with suggestions of individuals such as Hau'ofa (1975) or Hughes (1980), I have attempted to "share" some of my Pacific thoughts on Tonga with Tongans themselves.)

The success of the Missionaries in Tonga from 1826 on clearly owes itself to the pioneering LMS efforts of the 1797-1800 venture, the Lawry attempt of 1822-1823, and the two Tahitians who arrived prior to Thomas and Hutchinson. These details are pointed out not to denigrate the importance of the 1826 Wesleyan venture into Tonga, but merely to indicate that several factors were involved in the introduction of Christianity into the Friendly Islands, factors which were often beyond the immediate control of the individual participants.

Forman has pointed out that from Tonga, Methodism eventually spread to the neighboring Islands of Fiji and Samoa (1982: 4-5). A great deal has been written about this period of missionary expansion and more could be done.

Numerous publications have dealt with contemporary Tongan society (Rutherford, 1977; Marcus, 1980; Latukefu, 1980; and Connely-Kirch, 1982) and Tongan society continues to change and adapt to the world around it. Recently, at the Sixth Conference of the World Ecumicial Council of Churches held in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, the Reverend Dr. Sione 'Amanaki Havea, President of the Wesleyan Church in Tonga (and former head of the Pacific Theological College in Suva, Fiji), coined the term "coconut theology" and recommended replacement of the bread and wine at the communion with the milk and meat of the cocount. Whether this "adaptation" takes hold will only be evident over time, but it is another indication of the willingness of Pacific Islanders to adapt to the times and attempt to maintain their own unique identity.

In concluding this brief paper, I can only echo another Presidential Address given at the Annual Meeting of the American Society for Ethnohistory in 1974 and state that for Pacific matters, "the potential of the next decade, or the next generation, is truly exciting!" (J. Schwerin, 1976: 337). I look forward to the future with great enthusiasm.



The people of the Islands of the Pacific are clearly part of the world-wide community and the islanders, as well as the people of the nations that border the Pacific Ocean, are entering into an exciting period of time. The growth potential of the people of the Pacific Rim is tremendous (P. F. Hooper, 1982). Telecommunication facilities, utilizing the satellites currently in geostationary orbit (and planned for the future), are truly linking the peoples and cultures of the Pacific with the 20th century world. Eslewhere I have written about the satellite potential for Pacific islanders from such institutions as the University of California, Santa Cruz, or California State University, Chico.(Urbanowicz, 1978: 191-204.) My own university is currently pursuing the potential of satellite delivery of various services, including courses, to selected locations via satellite. We are currently delivering B.S. and M.S. degrees in Computer Science to the United States Naval Weapons facility at China Lake, California, 500 miles distant from the Chico campus, and we are exploring the potential of satellite delivery of those courses to that location.[*]

One need only read the publications from the annual meetings of the Pacific Telecommunications Council held in Honolulu, Hawai'i, every January, to learn about "Satellite Communications for the Pacific Islands: An alternative to isolation" (Hurd, 1983; and see Hurd 1982) or "Achieving appropriate satellite service in the Pacific Islands" (Witherspoon, 1980; also see Pelton 1982 and 1983). Trained as an anthropologist who did fieldwork in Tonga, I follow Pacific activities with great interest and it was encouraging to read the following based on a January 1980 Pacitic Telecommunication Council meeting:

"In the Kingdom of Tonga, satellite introduction has made dramatic changes in the local economy. Due to the improved [statellite] communications, competitive bidding on proces [for example] has allowed a 20% drop in the cost of some goods." (Lipton, 1980: 33)

It is information such as this that I have shared with my anthropology colleagues in a paper at my own national meeting: "Ethnographic Esoterica or Electronic Ethnography: Have We A Choice?" (Urbanowicz, 1980)

It is also internesting to read the comments of John W. Eger, former telecommunications advisor to the American White House and how he phrased it in Joseph Pelton's eminently readable 1981 book entitled Global Talk:

"Technology forces social and political change, which is something technology has always done. But the communications technology posed by satellite development and that which the future offers, unlike earlier evolutions, are unique. They know no barriers, no national boundaries, race, religion, culture, or any other of the essentially artificial diversions between different peoples in different places in the world." (J. Eger in Pelton, 1981: xii)

Ending this paper, I can only speculate as to what would have occurred if those first missionaries in the Pacific had been able to maintain their lines of communication back to England? What would have occurred had the Duff completed the second voyage in 1798? What would those missionaries now think of the network of satellites in various orbits that allow us virtually instant communication to any part of the globe. What is more intriguiging, what will the anthropologist or the historian of the future think of our "backward" days of 1983? From the year 1797 to 1983 was a mere 186 years, but the changes around the world have been fantastic; can we possibly predict what the year 2169 will be like and what will the processes of change be like over the years?

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Anon., 1801, Mission to Tongataboo. Reports of the Missionary Society, From Its Formation in the Year 1795, to 1814, Inclusive, Vol. 7: 124 (London).

Anon., 1895, Marine Intelligence. Salem Gazeteer (25 October 1805).

Anon., 1823, Sydney Gazette, April 24, Page 2 (Australia).

Bruce Biggs, 1960, Maori Marriage: An Essay in Reconstruction ( Wellington, New Zealand: The Polynesian Society Monograph No. 1.)

Bernard S. Cohn, 1968, Ethnohistory. International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, Vol. 6: 440-448.

Ernest E. V. Collocottt, n.d., Papers on Tonga, 1845-19??, Vol. 1-V. (Sydney: Mitchell Library, ML MSS.207).

Ernest E. V. Collocottt, n.d., The Chalice of Life [Typescript with MS. Corrections]. (Sydney: Mitchell Library, B1450).

Debra Connelly-Kirch, 1982, Economic and Social Correlates of Handicraft Selling in Tonga. Annals of Tourism Research, Vol. 9, No. 3: 383-402.

Gergory Dening, 1966, Ethnohistory in Polynesia: The Value of Ethnohistorical Evidence. The Journal of Pacific History, Vol. 1: 23-42.

E. W. Gifford, 1924, Euro-American Acculturation in Tonga. The Journal of the Polynesian Society, Vol. 33, No. 2: 281-292.

E. W. Gifford, 1929, Tongan Society (Bernice P. Bishop Museum Bulletin No. 16, Honolulu).

L. Groube, 1971, Tonga, Lapita Pottery, and Polynesian Origins. The Journal of the Polynesian Society, Vol.. 80, No. 3: 278-316.

Charles W. Foreman, 1982, The Island Churches of the South Pacific: Emergence in the Twentieth Century (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books).

Epeli Hau'ofa, 1975, Anthropology and Pacific Islanders. Oceania, Vol. 45, No. 4: 283-289.

Paul F. Hooper [Editor], 1982, Building A Pacific Community: The Addresses And Papers Of the Pacific Community Lecture Series (Honolulu: University of Hawai'i, East-West Center).

Kerry R. Howe, 1979, Pacific History in the 1980s: New Directions of Monography Myopia. Pacific Studies, Vol. 3, No. 1: 81-90.

Daniel T. Hughes, 1980, The Responsibilities of Anthropologists to Pacific Islanders. Pacific Studies, Vol. 3, No. 2: 43-51.

Jane Hurd, 1982, One Third of the World: A Review of Pacific Islands Telecommunications Requirements. PTC'82 Pacific Telecommunications Conference Papers And Proceedings (Honolulu: Pacific Telecommunications Council), pages 255-260.

Jane Hurd, 1983, Satellite Communications in the Pacific Islands: An Alternative to Isolation. PTC'83 Pacific Telecommunications Conference Papers And Proceedings (Honolulu: Pacific Telecommunications Council), pages 89-91.

Shulamit R. D. Korn, 1978, After The Missionaries Came: Denominational Diversity in the Tonga Islands. Mission, Church, And Sect In Oceania (Edited by J. Boutilier, D. Hughes, and S. Tiffany). (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, ASAO [Association for Social Anthropology in Oceania] Monography No. 6), pages 395-422.

Sione Latukefu, 1974, Church And State In Tonga: The Wesleyan Methodist Missionaries And Political Development, 1822-1875 (Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press).

Sione Latukefu, 1980, The Definition of Authentic Oceanic Cultures With Particular Reference to Tongan Culture. Pacific Studies, Vol. 4, No. 1: 60-81.

Walter Lawry, n.d., Diary (February 1818 - February 1825). (Sydney: Mitchell Library, A1973.)

Walter Lawry, 1819, Letter dated 15 July 1819. (Sydney: Mitchell Library, Bonwick Transcripts, Box 50, Series I: 453-459.)

George Lilley, n.d., Journal To Tongataboo And Back (August 12, 1822 - November 23, 1824). (Sydney: Mitchell Library Microfilm, FM4/1417, Reel 26, Original in London).

S. Lipton, 1980, Of Satellites And Human Hearts. Pacific Islands Monthly, Vol. 51, No. 4: 32-33.

R. Mansfield, 1823, Letter of 9 August 1823. (Sydney: Mitchell Library, Bonwick Transcripts, Box 52: 1309-1312.)

Pierre Maranda, 1964, Marquesan Social Structure: An Ethnohistorical Contribution. Ethnohistory, Vol. 11, No. 4: 301-379.

George Marcus, 1980, The Nobility And The Chiefly Tradition In The Modern Kingdom Of Tonga. (Wellington, New Zealand: The Polynesian Society Memori No. 42.)

J. Martin [for William Mariner], 1817, An Account Of The Natives Of The Tonga Islands. (London)

Henry Evans Maude, 1971, Pacific History--Past, Present, and Future. The Journal of Pacific History, Vol. 6: 3-24. 

Douglas L. Oliver, 1962, The Pacific Islands (Revised Edition).

Douglas L. Oliver, 1974, Ancient Tahitian Society (Three Volumes) (Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press).

R.S. Oppenheim, 1973, Maori Death Customs (Wellington, New Zealand: Reed).

Joseph N. Pelton, 1981, Global Talk (The Netherlands: Sitjhoff & Nordhoff).

Joseph N. Pelton, 1982, The Pacific, Telecommunications And Socio-Economic Development. PTC'82 Pacific Telecommunications Conference Papers And Proceedings (Honolulu: Pacific Telecommunications Council), pages 143-151.)

Joseph N. Pelton, 1983, Intelsat: The Geosynchronous Orbital Arc And The third World. PTC'83 Pacific Telecommunications Conference Papers And Proceedings (Honolulu: Pacific Telecommunications Council), pages 136-145.)

George S. Rowe, 1885, A Memoir Of the Reverend John Thomas (London).

Noel Rutherford [Editor], 1977, Friendly Islands: A History of Tonga (Oxford University Press).

Karl H. Schwerin, 1976, The Future Of Ethnohistory. Ethnohistory, Vol. 23, No. 4: 322-341.

Dean R. Snow, 1979, American Society For Ethnohistory Presidential Address, October 12, 1979. Ethnohistory, Vol. 26, No. 3: 201-208.

A. R. Tippett, 1973, Aspects Of Pacific Ethnohistory (Pasadena, California: William Carey Library).

J. Turnbull, 1805, A Voyage Around The World In The Years 1800-04.... (London).

Charles F. Urbanowicz, 1976, John Thomas, Tongans, and Tonga! The Tonga Chronicle (July 15, 1976), Nuku'alofa, Tonga, Vol. 13, No. 7: 7.

Charles F. Urbanowicz, 1977, Motives and Methods: Missionaries in Tonga in the Early 19th Century. The Journal of the Polynesian Society, Vol. 86, No. 2: 245-263.

Charles F. Urbanowicz, 1978, Micronesians in Northereastern California: Some Ideas on Education for the Future. New neighbors...Islanders in Adaptation (Edited by Cluny Macpherson, Bradd Shore, and Robert Franco). (Santa Cruz: University of California, Center for South Pacific Studies), pages 191-204.

Charles F. Urbanowicz, 1980, Ethnographic Esoterica or Electronic Ethnography: Have We A Choice? (For the 79th Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association, Washington, D.C., December 3-7.)

[August 2003 Addition:] Charles F. Urbanowicz, 1986, [with L.J. Wright and R.F. Meuter] Distance Education From A Non-Digital Source: Some Suggestions For Digital Designers. Telecommunications--Asia, Americas, Pacific: PTC'86 Proceedings, Edited by Wedemeyer and Pennings (Honolulu), pp. 346-353.

[August 2003 Addition:] Charles F. Urbanowicz, 1988, [with L.J. Wright & R.F. Meuter] Educational Telecommunications fromCalifornia. A Case Study from California State University, Chico. Telecommunications And Pacific Development: Alternatives for the Next Decade: PTC'88 Proceedings, Edited by Wedemeyer and Pennings (Honolulu), pp. 65-69.

George Vason, 1810, An Authentic Narrative of Four Years' Residence At Tongataboo, One of the Friendly Islands (London: Longman).

Clark Wissler [Editor], 1909, The Indians Of Greater New York And the Lower Hudson. (New York: Anthropological Papers of the American Museum of natural history).

J.P. Witherspoon, 1980, Achieving Appropriate Satellite Services In The Pacific Islands. PTC'80 Pacific Telecommunications Conference Papers And Proceedings (Honolulu: Pacific Telecommunications Council), pages 1F/16-1F/20.

A. Harold Wood, 1932, A History And Geography Of Tonga (Nuku'alofa, Tonga).

A. Harold Wood, 1975, Overseas Missions Of the Australian Methodist Church, Volume I: Tonga And Samoa (Melbourne, Australia: Aldersgate Press).

L. B. Wright and M. I. Fry, 1936, Puritans in The South Seas (New York: Holt).

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The world continues to change since this 1983 paper and while "satellite technology" was being stressed in 1983, perhaps some of these 2003 web sites might be of interest: [Tongan Visitors Bureau} Welcome to the Kingdom of Tonga] [Tonga} Includes Audio] [Royal Tongan Airlines] [Lonely Planet World guide} Tonga] [Various Tongan Articles and Links] [Pacific Islands Web Directory} Tonga] [Tonga] [Tonga][Pacific Islands Report} Up-to-the-date news] [Australian National University} A massive Pacific Site] [CIA World Factbook} 2002] [New Zealand Government On-Line] [ABC News (Australia)]; finally, check out: [Web Cams around the world, including many in Oceania!]

ADDITIONAL WEB PAGES THAT MIGHT BE OF VALUE INCLUDE THE FOLLOWING: [State Records of new South Wales} Has Walter Lawry Information] [University of London: School of Oriental and African Studies} John Thomas: 1786-1875] [Mentions Walter lawry] [Your Guide To Tonga, August 2001] [Tonga on the Net} The Land of the White Missionaries] [United States Department of State} Tonga] [Destinations in Tonga]


1994 Review of Islanders of the South: Production, Kinship and Ideology in the Polynesian Kingdom of Tonga (1993) by Paul Van Der Grijp (translated by Peter Mason). Ethnos (Stocklhom), Vol. 59, No. 3-4: 276-278.

1993 Peoples & Cultures of the Pacific: Okeania est omnis divisa in partes tres. (For the California State University, Chico Anthropology Forum, September 30, 1993).

1991a Another Look at Tourism With Regards to Tonga. Hosts and Guests, edited by Valene Smith (Tokyo: Keisó Shobo), pp. 147-164 [Japanese Translation of 1989].

1991b Tonga. Encyclopedia of World Cultures, edited by D. Levinson (Boston: Hall-Macmillan), pp. 336-339.

1989 Tourism in Tonga Revisited: Continued Troubled Times? Hosts And Guests: The Anthropology of Tourism, edited by Valene Smith, 2nd Edition (University of Pennsylvania), pp. 105-117.

1988 Review of Early Tonga as the Explorers Saw It: 1616-1810 (1987) by E. N. Ferdon. The American Anthropologist, Vol. 90, No. 4: 1021.

1981a Review of The Nobility and the Chiefly Tradition in the Modern Kingdom of Tonga (1980) by G.E. Marcus. Pacific Studies, Vol. 5, No. 114-116.

1981b Pacific Women: Some Polynesian Examples. Discussion Paper 81-1 in Discussion Paper Series (College of Behavioral and Social Sciences, California State University, Chico).

1979a Change in Rank and Status in the Polynesian Kingdom of Tonga. Political Anthropology: The State of the Art, edited by S. L. Seaton and J. M. Claessen (Mouton: The Hague), pp. 225-242 [identical to 1975a].

1979b Comments on Tongan Commerce, With Reference to Tourism and Traditional Life. Pacific Viewpoint, Vol. 20, No. 2: 179-184.

1978a Brève note sur l'inflation, le tourisme et le Pétrole au Royaume polynésien des Iles Tonga. Journal de la Société des Océanistes, Vol. 36, No. 60:137-138.

1978b Review of A Polynesian Village: The Process of Change In the Village of Hoi, Tonga (1977) by P. Tupouniua. The Journal of the Polynesian Society, Vol. 87, No. 3: 288-289.

1977a Integrating Tourism With Other Industries in Tonga. The Social and Economic Impact of Tourism on Pacific Communities, edited by B. H. Farrell (Center for South Pacific Studies, University of California, Santa Cruz), pp. 88-94.

1977b Tourism in Tonga: Troubled Times. Hosts and Guests: The Anthropology of Tourism, edited by Valene Smith (University of Pennsylvania), pp. 83-92.

1977c Motives and Methods: Missionaries in Tonga in the Early 19th Century. The Journal of the Polynesian Society, Vol. 86, No. 2: 245-263.

1976a John Thomas, Tongans, and Tonga! The Tonga Chronicle (July 15, 1976), Nuku'alofa, Tonga, Vol. 13, No. 7: 7.

1976b Tourism in The Pacific. The Asianist (California State University, Chico), Vol. 1: 17-22.

1975a Change in Rank and Status in the Polynesian Kingdom of Tonga. Psychological Anthropology, edited by T. R. Williams (Mouton), pp. 559-575 [identical to 1979a].

1975b Drinking in the Polynesian Kingdom of Tonga. Ethnohistory, Vol. 22, No. 1: 33-50.

1974a Capt. Cook's Club. Pacific Islands Monthly, April.

1973 Tongan Adoption Before The Constitution of 1875. Ethnohistory, Vol. 20, No. 2: 109-123.

1972 Tongan Culture: The Methodology of an Ethnographic Reconstruction. Copyrighted Ph.D. dissertation, Department of Anthropology, University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon; also available from Ann Arbor, University Microfilms 73-7972); CSUC} GN/671/T5/U7/1972a]. [And please see}]

[APPENDIX IV: OTHER SPECIFIC URBANOWICZ HISTORICAL WEB PAGES (in reverse chronological order: 1965 -> 1980)]

1980 Women In The Pacific: Some Polynesian Examples. (For The "Asia and Pacific" Section of the 28th Annual Meeting of the American Society for Ethnohistory, San Francisco, California, October 23-25.)

1977 Evolution of Technological Civilizations: What is Evolution,Technology, and Civilization? (For the Symposium on "The Search For Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence at NASA/Ames Research Center Moffett Field, California, February 24-25.)

1972 Tongan Social Structure: Data From An Ethnographic Reconstruction. For the 71st Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association,Toronto, Canada, December 2, 1972).

1971 Tongan Culture: From The 20th Century to the 19th Century. For the 70th Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association, New York, New York, November 17, 1971).

1970a Discussion. Current Direction in Anthropology: A Special Issue [Bulletins of the American Anthropological Association, Vol. 3, No. 3, Part 2], edited by Ann Fischer (Washington, D.C., American Anthropological Association), pages 55-56.

1970b Mother Nature, Father Culture. (For the 28th Annual Meeting of the Oregon Academy of Science, Eugene, February 28).

1969 A Selective View of the Intellectual Antecedents of Claude Lévi-Strauss. (For the 68th Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association, New Orleans, Louisiana, November 20-23, 1969.]

1968 Comments on Bronislaw Malinowski (For a University of Oregon ANTH 507 Graduate Seminar, October 29).

1967 The Classical Maya. Honors Papers (Bellingham: Western Washington University), Vol. 6: 26-32.

1965 Darwin - 1859: An Important Historical Event. (For SPEECH 100, Western Washington State College [now Western Washington University], Bellingham, Washington, June 30).

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(1) © [All Rights Reserved.] [Original 1983 footnote:] To be presented December 28, 1983, at the Annual Meeting of the American Historical Association, San Francisco, California, for the Symposium entitled "Missions and Missionaries in the Pacific: An Overview.") [August 2003 Note. Incidentally, the records indicate that although the paper was presented in December 1983 it was actually completed on 15 September 1983.] [To return to the top of the paper, please click here.]

[*] [August 2003 Note: Those courses via satellite were eventually delivered to China Lake and other locations throughout the United States in the 1980s and 1990s, including courses via satellite in Geography to Japan. See Urbanowicz 1986 and 1988, added to the original 1983 "References Cited" listed above. To return to the text, please click here.]

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