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How Tonga Aids New Zealand

Issues in Tongan education

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Issues in Tongan education


The purpose of this section is to present a number of issues in education in Tonga today. The first school in Tonga was started by a Wesleyan missionary in 1828, and in the fol-
years the missions explanded the school system (based mainly on English education)
until in 1876 the first Act of Parliament was passed regulating education in Tonga and it made education comulsory for all children from 7 – 16. The Education Act of 1927, consolidated in 1947, provides that every child of not less than six or more than fourteen years of age living within a distance of two miles from a government primary school shall attend that school or some other public primary school unless the child has passed Class 4. No fees are charged for the ordinary instruction given in government primary schools. The compulsory period does not cover any of the post-primary stage. In a report in 1969, the Minister of Education stated that about 27% of the students who pass through the primary schools proceed to intermediate or secondary schools.

There is still very little technical education in Tonga, and many feel that the syllabus, based largely on Australian and New Zealand examinations, is far removed from the needs of Tongan society. The selections printed below are not intended to give a complete picture of education, but only to highlight some of the ‘hot’ issues. The extract from a Peace Corps document perhaps tells more about the attitude of one volunteer than about the education system, but it does pinpoint the dangers of approaching Tongan education from a Eurpean perspective. The next series of extracts concern
the extraordinary controversy over a schoolgirl's speech on “Tongan Democracy”. There follows a short note on the Roman Catholic Church's attempt to improve community education, and finally some extracts are reproduced from the correspondence columns of the Tonga Chronicle, concerning the New Zealand Scheme of Co-operation, which clearly (and justifiably) creates a lot of resentments among Tongan teachers. The money spent on bringing and paying New Zealand teachers to teach in Tongan schools could surley be better used in providing the resources for the kind of changes needed to attune Tongan education more closely to the developmental needs of the country.

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A U.S. Peace Corps View

FromPacifica, a critical Peace Corpos document given to volunteers.

As teachers, you will have another whole dimension of problems to resolve (that is, if you care at all about your job). Once you get the educational system straight, once the novelty quickly flattens out into routine (take note of that world) will you be the kind of person who will justify – or try to justify – what he is doing as a teacher in Pacifica? Perhaps not, and if not, then you are quite lucky in a way and may enjoy two rewarding years here. Yet if you honestly feel that it is important to know with reasonable certainty that you are doing something worthwile for Pacifica, then you may be heading for some trouble. It is extremely difficult to see a purpose or an end to the educational system here. Are we here as cheap replacements for local and expatriate labour. There are times when that is the only purpose you may see to your job. Are you prepared to teach a class of kids – drill them for exams that 3/4 of them may never get a chance to take, sacrifice 97% for the sake of the 3% (which you might not even have), work for the few who sit the exams, and then ‘dump’ the rest? And those lucky few who go overseas – do you want to be responsible for the high number of cultural misfits that overseas makes out of so many scholarships? Are you willing to spend two years preparing kids for exams they'll never take, jobs they'll never find, opportunities that only exists in the minds of the myth-laden people? Or will your goals be to buck the system, forget the exams and teach the kids to think? Do you really think you can do that? Are you that good at teaching? And can you honestly come face to face with the prospect that even if you do achieve your admirable goal and get the kids to question, reason, think (is that being sensitive to the culture?) and want to know something beyond the sea, beyond their traditions, beyond everyday custom – do you have the guts to face the prospect that most of these kids will then have to go back to the plantation for life. And now, because of you, they know what they're missing. What do you answer a student of yours (like I had to answer one of mine) when he begs you to save him from the plantation next year: ‘I dont't want do die’? What will you say to him? And the more “successful” you are, the more likely this is to happen. In short, will you be satisfied spending your two years creating needs that the country might well not be able to fulfil?

Well, perhaps you'll make the leap of faith, and assure that it is an absolute good to get the kids to question, think for themselves and turn them into good American students (wait until you tryl) and that the country will have to be the better for it. If you can make that leap, and are a real crackerjack teacher, you may well have a good teaching experience. The kids you will be teaching have probably never been taught or allowed to question anything independently in their lives. You can, perhpas, really start something. If you can make the kids think, get them to want to know, and open the world beyond the afternoon tide to them, you may well be on your way to a tough but ultimately re-
teaching experience. And you'll probably see results. But don't expect too

Dont't get me wrong. I think that in some was Pacifica needs the Peace Corps as much as most places in the world. In a way, there is a job here. We are diversity to these people. Whether they like it or not (and they're bound not to like it most of the page 24 time) we will have a great influence here – depite ourselves, our ‘programs’ and our ‘best-laid plans’. If you come, please be sensitive to the fact that it is you who are different here. Try to be tolerant, although that will probably prove much harder than many of you suspect. Your patience, your faith in people, your trust, your love, your tolerance of others, your understanding of even yourself, your notion of what relation-
with others mean, your faith in the equality of all men – all these and others will
be tried to their breaking points. You will probably find yourselves mentally packing your bags at times, and some of you – if you refuse to listen to the advice of others – may actually succeed in completing the packing. You will probably come to realise that understanding the people is not exactly the same thing as being able to live with them. In Pacifica you will come to know the Pacifican way extremely intimately. You will have the opportunity to peak behind the glittering curtain the expatriates have woven in front of paradise. And beyond it, you will come face to face with yourself – your strengths and sometimes surprising victories, your weaknesses and humiliating, debilitating failures. Perhaps you will see many parts of yourself for the first time, and you may well not like what you see. But again, try to understand, and be culturally sensitive – even if that sensitivity is not returned. If you think you really want to come here, try then to understand. The culture needs that.

It also needs you not be too sensitive. Know when to say no. Be polite if you can, but dont’ forget yourself. That, in a way, is how I see our job here. If we throw ourselves headlong into the local way – even when it goes counter to what we are – we are doing the country as disservice. The people know the local way. They have seen it, known it, and been it for 2,000 years. The problem is that most of them know no other, and therefore have no choices. I think our job here is to help sow the seeds of that choice, to show people that their's isn't the only way. We shouldn't present our-
as answers, but the possibility of these answers.

Nuku'alofa Harbour

Nuku'alofa Harbour

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Tonga should be more democratic

The Winning Speech in a School Competition, published in the Tonga Chronicle on August 9, 1973.

As we all know, Tonga is one of the last remaining Kingdoms on earth. Its system of government is based on a monarchy. There is a Parliament, a Privy Council and ultimately the king or reigning monarch. All this, my friends, is under the suspices of democracy.

Let me speak of the Parliament. There are seven representatives of the group of 33 titled men or nobles in the land. On the other hand there are only seven representatives from the population of 90,000. The various Ministers of the Crown who are His Majestry's Cabinet complement the Parliament.

A democracy, my friends, is rule by the people where every man has equal rights under the law. I hereby state emphatically that the present system of government is not democratic. The representation in the Parliament is clearly biased in favour of the nobility. There is a representative for roughly every five nobles. However, it is very worthwhile to note that there is only one representative for approximately every 13,100 Tongan citizens. The distribution of voting power in our Parliament is surely prejudiced in favour of the nobles, imbalanced, unfair, and simply undemocratic.

This situation needs to be remedied. There must be a greater opportunity for every Tongan citizen to have his say in the running of the country. You may scoff at me and say that every man has this right because he is allowed to elect a representative to Parliament. However, this facade of democracy crumbles when his representative enters Parliament because of the unbalanced voting power which I have already mentioned. It would be appropriate here to state again that one nobles’ representative stands for five nobles while one people's representative comes from roughly 13,100 Tongan nationals.

In the past, the educated people of Tonga were mostly from the nobility. These educated people had the running of the people as their responsibility. The uneducated masses, which included my great-grandfather and your great-grandmother, looked upon this group of educated people with the faith that they would govern the country well.

Today, however, this situation is changing. More and more of the Tongan people are becoming educated. With this education, my fellow students, a creeping but uneasy awareness of the lack of democracy will come to exist in every educated person's mind. This uneasy awareness of the present lack of democracy will have its harmful effects if something is not done to correct the present system.

What, exactly, do I mean by harmful effects? My firends, let us cast our minds back to the China that existed before 1949. After a long period of frustration with their overlords and undemocratic system of government the people rebelled and seized power for themselves. Think of Russia before 1917. The same thing happened. I am not saying that Tonga will come to such an extreme situation as that of Russia in 1917 or China in 1949. What I am saying is that unless the present system of government is modified to become more democratic, discontent, disillusionment and perhaps even rebellion on a smaller scale will occur.

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Perhaps this rebellion could be expressed in the form of a ‘brain drain’, where our educated people would leave the country because of dissatisfaction with the undemocratic system of government. This happened in Germany when Hitler established his totalitarian system of government.

If and when the existing system of government is changed, to become more democratic of course, the country will benefit. You will inevitably ask, why? The answer is this: because each and every man will be able to contribute something worthwhile to the welfare of the country through his Parliament representative. Only when every man has equal representation in Parliament will there be truly rule by the people and for the people.

However, if our system of government does not become more democratic then the tranquil way of life that you and I are accustomed to may be disrupted. It is no longer safe or even reasonable to ignore the increasing number of educated voices and minds in the kingdom.

My fellow students, this is my plea to you. Let us join together with fervent hope that our form of government will become more democratic in the future. You and I will become members of that imposing force of educated Tongan people and it is our responsibility to see that today's oligarchy is tomorrow's democracy.

How Tonga is governed

How Tonga is governed

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House Discusses Controversial Speech

The case of the Chronicle and its contents have again been a subject of discussion in the Legislative Assembly. This time, the subject was the publication of the winning speech in the recent Tonga High School speech contest, some weeks ago. The speech was rendered by sixth former, Lata Soakai and titled, ‘Tonga should be more democratic’.

The Tongatapu Nobles representative Hon. Vaha'i raised the issue and said, ‘I am very much concerned at the criticism published by the Chronicle which implies that we are not a democratic government. But His Majestry Tupou I had installed the national motto, God and Tonga are my inheritance, given the Constitution and emancipation of the people, and this is a Christian assembly for a Christian government. I am saddened by this recent manifestation of criticism of His Majesty and the Government, and what may I ask Mr Speaker, is undemocratic in His Majestry's Government.

Hon. Vaha'i went on to say that the Minister of Police should assign investigators, ‘to investigate this foreign element that is creeping in to induce these criticisms.’

The Speaker, Hon. Ma'afu, pointed out that the incident was only a speech contest which teachers encourage their pupils to participate in.

The Acting Prime Minister, Hon. Tuita, reminded the House of the provision in the Constitution, Clause 7 which provides for freedom of expression, and in his Acting capacity there is no way of forbidding it.

Tongatapu No. 1 People's Representative Mr Tu'ilatai Mataele said, ‘I feel this Department (the Chronicle) should consider carefully what goes into the Chronicle. There was a lot of controversy when the paper was established and a lot of people advocated that the paper should be both for the Government and the people. Anyway, the paper got off to a good start but just lately it had deteriorated. ‘I have also noticed that when the European (palangi) editor was here, nothing of this nature happened, but this time with the present editor, this incident has cropped up. Mr Mataele, however, agreed with the Speaker that this was only an exercise, and he has assured his many kava party companions that Tonga is still democratic.

There was a lot of opinion expressed on the issue by the Minister of Health, Hon. Tapa, Tongatapu Representative, Mr Tomiteau Finau, the Hon. Malupo and Mr Taniela Mafua. Hon. Dr Tapa emphasised the importance of openly expressing one's opinions which is better than suppressing it to emerge at a later date which would be more dangerous. Hon. Malupo endorsed the Acting Prime Minister's statement that the article in
question was well within the provision of the Constitution and no matter how much dis-
there prevalis in the Kingdom the people are still patriotic and who knows but
there might be some good out of the whole issue.

The Speaker summed up the discussion by saying, ‘Whatever is the will of God, that is what will take place. We are still human and it is also possible that the Nobles' estates are too big an should be redivided, and I ask you not to be concerned, as the issue might be bigger than we realise.’

Letter to the Chronicle, August 23, 1973.

Dear Sir


I wish to offer this letter, written on behalf of the Women's Langafonua Assoc- page 28 iation, for publication in your ‘Letters to the Editor’ page.

The Winning Speech

It is a matter for concern when High School students are taught and made to write and/or speak critically against their country's Constitutional laws. Besides the topic that won, - ‘Tonga should be more Democratic’ three others claimed that ‘There would be no loss if Tonga culture died’ or that ‘Tonga culture is a thing of the past’. If this is Education, to sow the seeds of Rebellion to Law and Order and to teach our youth to denouce their country's culture, then we should take heed. In actual truth it is the practice of nurturing revolutionary doctrines, so disguised in the name of Education, or in other words, ‘A wolf in lamb's clothing’.

Only in June of last year, two Auckland men, Mr Anthony Butler and Sefo Afeaki, did their utmost to slander Tonga and her monarch through the Press. Some of their articles which the NZ Truth published in bold headlines consisted of such headlines as ‘In an Island of Fear’, ‘An Iron King’, ‘Driven to Drink’, and so on and so forth to fill almost two pages that I did wonder what could have caused such hate and maticiousness.

It does appear strange but this so-called Winning Speech seems to have picked up where those two gentlemen left off. The same ideas, anyhow, have now been publicly advertised, camouflaged perhaps in a School's Speech Contest, but they are all there for the present ‘uneducated masses’-for the ‘educated’ Tongan and wherever the ‘Tonge Chronicle’ may go.

Tonga's leaders should give earnest consideration to its country's aims in the educations of its future generations. We cannot afford to continue letting teachers who mock at Tongan law and culture to so influence young and immature minds who ‘swallow’ but cannot ‘digest’ biased history and politics. The Apostle Paul symbolised such ‘feeding’ when he wrote: ‘Strong meat belongs to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.’

Tonga's Constitution specifies, as one of the foremost qualifications of an elector for people's representatives for Parliament that a Tongan must be 21 years of age, which means that our young politicia still needs another five years or more to ‘live and learn’ before she is privileged to air her views. As a famous poet wrote, ‘A little understanding is dangerous’, but the Prophet Hosea had cried out, ages before, ‘My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge’, for they had rejected God's excellent gift of which is written in the Book of Job, ‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to depart from evil is understanding.’

Tongan history tells us that no people's representative had any part when Tupou I gave us our Emancipation, now were we allowed to elect any when and after he handed our Constitution to our ancestors. Our representatives for Parliament then were our landlords, the nobles. I understand that Western Samoa's Constitution allows no chosen representatives of the people for Parliament, and in Fiji? Only the chiefs, of couse, represent for the people.

The last census for Tonga, in 1966, gave the number as 77,585. The next census is still three years ahead and so the 92,000, on which Lata has proportioned her one representative for 13,100 nations, is questionable. We must also bear in mind that about 66% of the total population are under 21 and are not electors so the number 92,000 drops to 30,000. It can still drop by a few thousands owing to sickness, in- page 29 ablity to attend at polling plces and disqualifications. But wait, can someone enlighten us as to the representation to Congress of America's 215 millions?

As for the world's many forms of government, today's students are most fortunate for they stand almost at the end of Time and look back and examine from the beginning of Time. The facts are all there and a true student or writer of history should not be biased or be influenced by hearsy. After all the propaganda and table-talk of the ‘rule of the majority’ and/or peasants in Russia and China, we might discover that both forms crumble down to the ‘rule of the few’.

Lastly and conclusively I wish to remind students that ‘ignorance of the law is no excuse’ With all our grumbles and complaints against our government policies, of which there are legal ways of making, we must be aware that only a fine line can come between criticisms and sedition, a very serious criminal offence of which the first definition is to ‘excite disaffection against the King of Tonga or against the Parliament or Government of Tonga…’ It seems that some parts of this so-called Winning Speech could be interpreted as of a seditious nature.

Teachers may laugh and say ‘What utter nonsense! This was nothing else but a Speech Contest. If they had any education they would understand that students are taught to be critical - that is the chief element of democracy opposition - and students begin from criticising their own work.’ Right, and I think that criticism is safest and best directed against oneself.

To quote again from the conclusion of this Winning Speech - “My fellow students, this is my plea to you. Let us join together … and become members of that imposing force of educated Tongan people whose responsibility is to see that today's oligarchy is tomorrow;s democracy.”

The truth of what is conveyed here is that it was such an ‘imposing force of educated people’ who was responsible for the ultimate power seizure of Communism over Russia's and China's millions. It is this same force who are causing protest marches, rebellion and riots in many of the democratic nations of today.

For the Langafonua Womens Association,


Editorial, Tonga Chronicle, 30.8.73.

Once again, the EDitor and the Chronicle wavers under a barrage of tongue lashing in the Legislative ASsembly. Fortunately, there was only one really outspoken personal attack on the Editor and his discretion.

What started it all was the publication of Lata Soakai's winning speech, titled ‘Tonga Should Be More Democratic’. Tongatapu No. 1 People's Representative, Mr Tu'ilatai Mataele went on to make an uncalled for comparison between the present editor of the Chronicle and his predecessor.

As I see it, and interpret it, Mr Mataele has questioned the discretion, diligence and suitability of the editor, along with a tacit attack on the Government's wisdom in appointing such a person. Quite frankly, I'm utterly disappointed in my so-called representative in the Legislative ASsembly, and the No. 1 People's Representative at that. What has become of our representatives in the House today? Let us see what's irresponsible about the publication of Lata's speech.

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Last century a number of kingdoms existed in Polynesia. The only one in this century
is the Kingdom of Tonga. The photo shows the coronation of King Taufa'ahau Tupou IV
who acceded to the throne in 1967

Grammatically, this speech is faultless, and for a 15 year old sixth former, to whom English is a second language, I consider her speech a tremendous achievement. Subject-
, I'm amazed at how ‘au fait’ Lata is with Tonga's political situations and her awareness of recent developments. Lata is a potential crator with lots of promise and I admire
her courage. If the manifestations of this young lady's tremendous achievements is considered irresponsible on the part of the editor, then I am perhaps wallowing in deep water!

What then is the benefit of advocating better education, only to find that learning or knowing too much can be dangerous.

M.P. Claims System In Tonga As ‘Tonga Democracy’

The speech by Lata Soakai headed ‘Tonga Should Be More Democratic’ and published by the chronicle was probably what sparked off the controversies, criticisms and eventual prosecution involving the Chronicle.

In the cross examination of the plaintiff regarding the plaintiff's comprehension of page 31 democracy, the court was informed that there exists in Tonga a system known as Tongan democracy.

Crown Solicitor raised the question of why plaintiff saw fit to apologise to the noble who first criticised Lata's speech in the House, and attempted to find out whether plaintiff did not agree with the contents of the schoolgirl's speech. Plaintiff, however, stated that he was not concerned about the contents of Lata's speech, what he was concerned about was the fact that the nobility had criticised in the House a member of the constituency he represents. He saw it his duty therefore to apologise on behalf of Lata and pointed out that the noble concerned should blame the editor for allowing the speech to be published.

The questioning then led to democracy and Mr Tupou asked the plaintiff whether he was familiar with the conditions of democracy as practiced in overseas countries. Plaintiff said he was and counsel asked whether this is not what is happening in Tonga. Plaintiff then said that although Tonga is a Constitutional Monarchy, there is also democracy involved in the system which is just a “Tongan democracy”.

Adult Education

One of the more interesting and promising developments in education in Tonga is the adult education programme being developed by the Roman Catholic Church. The Church is rapidly phasing out its role in primary education and concentrating its resources instead on what might be called education for development. An Adult Education Centre is currently being constructed just outside Nuku'alofa on Tongatapu Island, which will provide an administrative centre for these activities and also accommodation and teaching space for residential courses.

The scheme as it is developing essentially involves community education for development, as opposed to the traditional education of children only. A team of trained staff
go out to a village for a period of about two weeks, visit the homes of all the families and attempt through discussion to arrive at some conception of the needs of the village. Following this, a series of about 11 evening lectures/discussions are held over a period of about two months. These discussions start off from the concept of man (who am I?) and progress towards the appreciation of man as a social being who has to unite together with his fellow beings. The roles of man and woman are examined, as are those of parents and children, and the difficulties arising from conflict between the older and younger
generations. The discussion moves on from the concept of community to the obstacles to community and the nature of change. Changes are seen to be invitable, and the need to examine what is happening and critically to assess the effect on customs and traditions is pointed out. Finally, the course proceeds to the concept of development and the obstacles to development, and an attempt is then made to translate the results into some form of effective community action in which the Church assists where it can. Thus, in one village, a project was established to grow bananas for export, and the Church was able to assist in obtaining sprays, fertilisers, etc., as well as mediating with the Govern-
. In most villages, handicraft groups have been established, and through the work of the Church a trade outlet has been opened in Christchurch. The Church by this means page 32 also identifies more clearly the real obstacles to development, which do not lie with the local people or the local conditions, but with the restrictive trade arrangements with New Zealand (e.g. duties and a quota in the case of handicrafts) or inadequate shipping services (as in the case of a perishable export like bananas).

Underlying the Church's shift to community education is the belief that if any real development is to occur, changes of attitude are needed in the community as a whole, and not just among school children who will return to their homes with frustration and fruitless dissatisfaction. Projects of this nature are seen as ‘little projects which do not need requests for foreign aid’ and thus preserve the dignity and self-respect of the people which is a prerequisite for development. Emerging from them will presumably be the call for ‘trade rather than aid’.

The concept of community education for development avoids all the contradictions which presently emerge from a school system based on Western subjects, concepts and disciplines which is completely unrelated to the needs of the society which it supposedly serves. Children who are individually encouraged to be critical and creative within the school face frustration and boredom when they return to face life without opportunities in their villages. It is therefore imperative to encourage a critical and creative community rather than critical and creative individuals, for in the latter case criticism and creativity can easily turn into their opposities and themselves become obstacles to development in the community as a whole.

Expatriate Teachers

At the same time that New Zealanders heard of the proposal to pay New Zealand staff members of the University of the South Pacific a higher salary than the Polynesian staff, criticism of an even more damaging scheme of differential salaries appeared in the correspondence columns of the Tongan Chronicle, Tonga's weekly newspaper.

The criticisms concern the New Zealand Scheme of C-operation, whereby the New Zealand Government recruits teachers in New Zealand for the Tongan Government - on the condition that the Tongan Government pays them their full New Zealand salaries plus increments. At present there are seven such “expatriate” New Zealand teachers in Tonga and their salaries comprise nearly 25% of the entire Tongan education budget. These teachers form a resented elite.

Their salaries make them the highest paid civil servants in the country and they are said to rarely mix with local teachers.

An indication of their position is given in the Tongan Government's Civil Service list of January 1, 1973. At that time the NZ Principal of the Tongan Teachers’ College, Mr W. Scott, was earning $9,911.25, as compared with $6,600 paid to the Prime Minister, $4,500 to the Crown Solicitor, and $5,220 to the Minister of Education and other Cabinet Ministers. The Tongan Principal of Tonga High School, Mr P. Tapounia, M.A. $3,360, as compared with the $9,819 paid to the New Zealand expatriate headmaster of Tonga College, Mr L.J.P. Hyett, B.A. Dip. Tchg, Dip. Ed. Tongan teachers at Tonga College with overseas training on the other hand received salaries ranging from $600 to $1,230, with one M.A. graduate, Mrs V. Dixit, reaching the peak of $2,520, i.e. 25% of the NZ Principal's salary. Most received less than 10% of the NZ salary paid to Mr. Hyett.

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There were 17 teachers at Tonga High School in 1973, eight New Zealanders and nine Tongans. The total salary bill for the school was $75,065, of which $65,141 was paid to the eight New Zealanders and only $9,924 to the nine Tongans!

In a recent issue of the Tongan Chronicle (April 11, 1974) a Tongan correspondent had this to say on the matter:

“How perceptive of Dr J.S. Hoadley (Tonga Chroncile March 28) to see through the facade of many of New Zealand's so-called Aid Programmes! Tonga is suffering at the moment from one such aid programme. Under this programme, the New Zealand Government magnanimously supplies Tonga with trained and experienced teachers.

These teachers, we are told, have sacrificed promotion opportunities, salary increases and civilised comforts to ‘bring light to the benighted inhabitants of darkest’ Tonga. This noble aid programme is known as the ‘Scheme of Co-operation’. Seven sacrificial New Zealanders are working in Tonga now under this scheme.

The Tongan Government spends about one quarter of its education budget on paying these seven teachers. The total amount, I believe, is more than the amount paid to all Tongan teachers in all the Primary Schools of Tongatapu. The Principal of Tonga High School earns almost twice as much as the Minister of Education and more than the Prime Minister. Who sacrifices? Who benefits? I, for one, would not mind giving up a little civilised comfort if I were paid that kind of salary. The New Zealand Government is assuredly the Schemer and the Tonga Government is decidedly the Co-operator.

I do realise that Tonga does not have sufficient qualified experienced teachers here at the moment to staff the High School and maintain the same academic standard. But if we count the number of Tongan graduates who have left the Kingdom and the teaching service in disgust because of the unreasonable discrepancies in salaries of expartiates and local graduate teachers, we will have more than enough to staff not one but two High Schools. I am convinced that these graduates would return voluntarily if the Tongan Government were prepared to pay them a higher salary - not nearly as high as that of the New Zealanders but at least comparable with those with parallel qualifications in other departments.

I suggest that we phase out the New Zealand teachers as soon as possible and use the resultant fund more profitably to ease the salary grievances of local graduates and teachers who are expected to be twice as conscientious as the New Zealand counterparts counterparts while being paid a salary a New Zealand freezing workers would scorn to take home.

We are always told that the Government is too poor - too poor to be able to afford discontent and grievance but rich enough to pay one New Zealander $11,000.

The New Zealand Government would be doing this country real service if it terminates this ridiculously one-sided co-operative programme, or at least, changes its name. ‘The Benefit The New Zealand Teachers Scheme’ would be honest and it would avoid needless misconceptions.

Samiuela Tong'onevai”

Along with the proposal for differential salaries at the University of the South Pacific, this “Scheme of Co-operation” is a pernicious phenomenon which could ultimately do irreparable damage to New Zealand's already tarnished image in the Pacific. Although page 34 Pacific Islands Governments may not complain for fear of New Zealand retaliation, a burning resentment is growing among indigenous teachers at the sight of their New Zealand counterparts being paid wages which make South Africa's apartheid wage structure seem trivial in comparison.

“Tonga Chronicle”, April 19, 1974

I would like to comment on Samiuela Tonga'onevai's letter in which he has a ‘go’ at one of (in his own words) ‘New Zealand's so-called Aid Programmes’.

Contrary to what Tonga'onevai believes, Tonga is, and indeed has been benefiting, not suffering, from the Scheme of Co-operation to which he refers. The New Zealand teachers at Tonga High School are trained, experienced, and very conscientious - in short, first class at their jobs. And I shudder to think what the standard will be like at Tonga High once these expatriates all depart. From about 20 ex-Tonga High students questioned on this topic, the answers were invariably something like: ‘I never came across a single Tongan teacher who could measure up to an expatriate (New Zealander) in terms of knowledge, experience, and responsibility in performance.’ Our Tongan teachers have a long way to go yet before they start demanding the kind of salaries currently being paid to New Zealand teachers!

Tonga'onevai is most unfair to the New Zealand Government when he says that it is ‘assuredly the Schemer’. In point of fact, his claim only goes to show that he ought to check his facts (if they are facts at all) before he writes on a complicated and delicate subject. For his enlightenment, however, I would suggest that he approach the Education Department and ask either the Hon. Minister or the Director if it is true that the N.Z. Minister for Education and for Island Affairs has said that New Zealand would give a sympathetic hearing to a request from Tonga for New Zealand to pay for the salaries of all New Zealand teachers at Tonga High School, provided, of course, that Tonga took the initiative and asked. Tonga'onevai may also ask if the Department has done a thing about it. The answer is most likely to be in the negative, judging by the way the Department has properly ‘mucked up’ many of the overseas scholarship applications for the current year. I'm darned sure that had Tonga cared to ask, or rather, had the Education Department done its homework, New Zealand would have been only too pleased to oblige.

Tonga'onevai seems to imply that the New Zealand teachers at Tonga High should not get as much as they are now receiving. Why shouldn't they? If Tonga wants their services, then she has to pay for them. I, for one, do not expect them to be as patriotic as their Tongan colleagues who have left, as quickly as they had entered, the teaching profession to become Assistant Secretaries etc., mainly because of higher salaries in the latter. Again, what has the Education Department done about this ‘internal brain-drain’? Not much, apart from sending more and more students overseas to be trained as teachers who surely will, as soon as they return to Tonga, wave goodbye to the Education Department and pole-vault over the fence to greener pastures.

In conclusion, I would like to thank Samiuela Tonga'onevai for the chance to present what I believe to be the other side of the picture.


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Tonga Chronicle”, 25 April, 1974.

F. Moleni's letter should have been published in the Tongan version of the Chronicle as well as the English. Amongst the comments that might be made on this letter are:–


New Zealand is fortunate as being one of the few English speaking countries where teachers are well paid.


There are some very good Tongan teachers at work in Tonga now. If there were parity with their opposite numbers in the Civil Service and there were greater opportunities for training, there could be many more. With better economic reward, many would find it easier to stay in their chosen profession in a time of page 36 rising cost of living. It should also be remembered that those teachers who have moved out into the Civil Service are often still using their talents as teachers in the Civil Service education and they are still working for Tonga.


In all countries, but particularly developing ones, as well as academic and teaching techniques, the inculcation of self-confidence is a most important part of a young teacher's training. Such a sweeping statement on practising Tongan teachers under-
this and is damaging to the profession, particularly to those young teachers
who have recently complated their training, many of whom are carrying their new responsibilities well.

I write as a private person but my colleagues in the School of Education of the Univer-
of the South Pacific would certainly endorse this over the Diploma students from Tonga that they have trained.

Margaret Blundell,
U.S.P. Centre, Tonga.

Tonga Chronicle”, May 2, 1974.

I wish to refer to Samuela Tonga'onevai's letter and F. Moleni's letter, both referring to the New Zealand teachers recruited by the Tonga Government under the New Zealand Scheme of Co-operation.

The idea that the Scheme of Co-operation is part of New Zealand's Aid Programme should be dispelled. The Scheme is merely and primarily an agreement between the New Zealand and Tonga Governments that New Zealand will assist Tonga in the recruitment of teachers whom Tonga would either appoint or reject. If appointed, Tonga will
pay them the equivalent and any subsequent increases of their New Zealand salaries. Western Samoa once adopted this Scheme of Co-operation but they have now done away with it. Although some say that their standard of education has dropped as a result, it is to be doubted whether this is really a significant decline in view of other advantages. Fiji adopted the New Zealand Scheme of Co-operation and is still retaining it to a limited extent.

When the Scheme of Co-operation was initiated there were good reasons for Tonga being a party to it was understood, as often explained to us, that once Tongans were trained they would take over and the recruitment of New Zealand teachers would be phased out. As Tongans become qualified, it appears that there has been little effort to phase out the recruitment of New Zealand teachers and naturally Tongan graduate teachers who expected increasing responsibilities with corresponding prospects would become discontented as they see no future for them in the hierarchical organisation of the educational system. Although I am against localisation for the same of localis-
, I believe some teachers have just reasons for their discontentment.

Admittedly, there are certain subjects in the curriculum for which New Zealand teachers would still be required. Most Tongan graduate teachers posses degre in either History or Geography. Thus New Zealand teachers would still be required to teach English, pure Science and Commerce at the higher forms (unless they are to be replaced by Peace Corps or C.U.S.O. teachers). As Tongans return with degrees in English, pure Science and Commerce, then there should be a quicker phasing out the New Zealand teachers, Peace Corps and C.U.S.O. teachers.

There has been little or no sign of phasing out the New Zealand teachers at Tonga page 37 High School and as a result some Tongan graduate teachers have left to areas of better prospects, at least for the time being, in the civil service where their contributions would be recognised and rewarded accordingly. If F. Moleni interviews some of the graduates who have left the teaching profession he will find, I believe, that salary is only one of the main reasons why they left. But anyway, F. Moleni is closer to some truth when he places some blame for the exiting discontentment of Tongan teachers on the Educ-

I disagree with both Tonga'onevai and Moleni with regard to their assessments of Tongan and New Zealand teachers. Tonga'onevai exaggerates when he refers to Tongan teachers as being more conscientious than New Zealand teachers. I have seen some Tongan teachers who are very conscientious and others who are not really worth the money they receive. Similarly, some of the New Zealand teachers are very conscientious and others are not. I have known of some New Zealand teachers who have proved
so unsatisfactory that Government has been forced to terminate their contracts.

If Tongan graduates are given some of the administrative responsibilities at Tonga High School and replace completely New Zealand teachers who could be replaced, I doubt whether there will be any appreciable drop in the academic standard and achievements of the school. On the other hand, Tonga High School has acquired some undesir-
social characteristics because of the lack of understanding by expatriate teachers of the social mores of the Kingdom. The previous Principal of the School, with good intentions, relaxed the discipline to the extent that the image of the School outside the
classroom was just about the worst it has been for years.

F. Moleni has overstressed the achievements of the New Zealand teachers by stating that he has ‘never come across a single Tongan teacher who would measure up to an expatriate (New Zealander) in terms of knowledge, experience and responsibility or performance.’ May I point out that I have been more impressed with some Tongans who have now left the teaching profession, than with some expatriates in view of F. Moleni's criteria plus dedication. A New Zealand teacher, who did not take much interest in his work once told me that his ‘professional presence in the classroom is what he's paid for by the Tongan Government regardless of his teaching ability’.

Tongan teachers, if given time and opportunity, are capable of giving meritorious performance which would measure up to the performance of expatriates. I recall that in 1967 when New Zealand devalued its dollar the New Zealand teachers demanded compensation with threats of resignations. The Goernment finally agreed to compensate them and the threat disappeared but the threats could occur again in the future for
one reason or another. Therefore it is time to recognise the value of our Tongan teachers and treat them in ways in which their love and desire to serve their country could be fostered. Also, if Tongans want to replace the expatriate teachers, they have to study hard to acquire the necessary qualifications and then return home to serve conscientiously instead of grumbling and doing very little work.

Finally, I would like to thank Miss Blundell for her kind comments in last week's Chronicle regarding Tongan teachers. I agree with her, Tongan graduate teachers who have left the teaching profession but remain in the service of the Kindgom are not really a loss. What I would regard as a loss are those who have left Tonga altogether and I feel that these people have little right whatever to criticise how things are done in Tonga if they have failed to remain and offer gainful contributions to their country.