Sokendai Review of Cultural and Social Studies


Commoner Inclines to Church:

Fundraising in the ‘Eua island, Kingdom of Tonga


(The Graduate University for Advanced Studies, School of Cultural and Social Studies,
Department of Regional Studies)

Key words;

Kingship, Church, Commoner, Tonga, Fundraising, Obligation, Duty,

The Tongan local community and church have often organized programs of fundraising events. Much of the household income comes from remittances from overseas relatives. Such cash income is spent to support daily living and donation to the community and church.

In this paper, I focus on the money collecting systems in the ‘Eua island, located just a few kilometers off the south-eastern tip of Tongatapu. In an ‘Eua village, there are two types of money collecting systems: church-based (fakasiasi) and residential area -based (fakafonua). I examine how villagers use these systems in relation to Tongan traditional conception of commoner’s obligation or duty (fatongia). Fatongia means providing labor and food to chiefs as tribute. I first review anthropological research on Tongan fatongia. Researchers have understood fatongia not only as obligation and duty but also as reciprocity. I then illustrate some villagers’ behaviors concerning fakasiasi and fakafonua in village life. According to my own field data, cash contribution based on fakasiasi was more efficiently collected than fakafonua. This difference depended on who served as the administrator in the community.

I argue, from a historical point of view, that King Tupou I tried to change the traditional political relationship between the chief and his people. In Tonga, the chief has traditionally been viewed as authority in religion and land by commoners. Therefore, fatongia to the chief has been considered as commoners’ duty. But recently, the commoners appear to incline more toward church leaders than local administrators. This reflects on how differently commoners react to fakasiasi and fakafonua in the context of modern Tonga. As a concluding remark, I would like to redefine fakasiasi and fakafonua in the money collecting system; fakasiasi depends on more internal moral principles rather than fakafonua.