Why do people migrate from Tonga


Question 1

Why do people migrate from Tonga? How has this changed over time? Does this challenge the assumptions you had about why people migrate to the U.S. and in what ways?

Many Tongans migrate from their native countries to the United States for different reasons.  However, the most popular reasons include relaxed migration policies for Tongans, to get better opportunities regarding employment and investments and out of missionary influence (“Tonga,” 2012,).  However, this practice is changing in recent times as the U.S strives to control the number of immigrants in the country. I only thought people migrate to the U.S to further their studies and for opportunities but my assumption has changed.

Question 2

Analyze this quote by Cathy Small: “Leaving the village might become the best way to fulfill a Tongan life” (pg 43). What does quote mean? What does it have to do with kavenga and modern and traditional wealth?

The quote means that moving from Tonga to other countries in search of greener pastures given the economic conditions in the country is the dream of every Tongan citizen. Tongans have a culture of giving gifts which they often refer to kavenga meaning burden.  Therefore, to be in a position to afford these gifts, they have to work in what they perceive as greener pastures.

Question 3

Traditions: This book gives very interesting examples of how traditions change over time (although we might think they stay the same). First, name one Tongan tradition that has changed over time and describe how. Second, name one American tradition (or a tradition from another culture you are familiar with). Describe this tradition, what people think about it and how it has changed over time. Do people fight about this tradition? if so, why?

One of the changing traditions of Tonga people is the holding of Tau fakalokua which is an evening party where farmers and fishers would meet in the evening to discuss the achievements of the day over a drink. However, with the increasing change in the money economy, cash cropping and commercial fishing this tradition are slowly fading away as there is less time for informal meetings (“Tonga,” n.d.). One of the American traditions that are slowly changing is the practice of eating fast food and taking too much alcohol during holidays.  With the increasing awareness of obesity, the drinking and eating habits are slowly changing with time.

Question 4

What is the most interesting or surprising thing you have learned from this book so far? Explain why it is interesting to you. If you could do further research on this topic, what would you do?

The most surprising lesson from the book is the fact that Tonga’s economy entirely depends on non-monetary sector and remittances from immigrants especially from the United States, Australia, and New Zealand.

Question 5

Ask the class an open-ended discussion question using at least one of the following key terms: remittance, ethnography, informant, tradition, compromise culture, tapa cloth, kavenga, reciprocity, globally totemic, multivalent fetish.

What is the significance of kavenga to the people of Tonga?


Tonga. (2012). Connecting with Emigrants. doi:10.1787/9789264177949-22-en

Tonga. (n.d.). Encyclopedia of World Poverty. doi:10.4135/9781412939607.n694