THE TONGA ARCHIPELAGO WAS INHABITED IN THE FIRST MILLENNIUM B.C.. The first kings or Tu'i Tonga known probably lived in the 9th century AD and according to legend the first Tu'i Tonga was the son of the supreme god Tangaloa and the Tonga-girl Va'epopua.

In 1470 the Tu'i Tonga delegated his power  to a Tu'i Ha'atakalaua but kept his religious authority. In the 17th century the Tu'i Ha'atakalaua transmitted his powers to the Tu'i Kanokupolu who was an intermediary  between the Tu'i Tonga and the Tu'i Ha'atakalaua. In the 16th and 17th centuries the three ruling families lived in peace until a heavy quarrel broke out between their followers in the Tongatapu, Ha’apai and Vava’u regions.

The first Europeans discovering the archipelago were the Dutch sailars Schouten and Lemaire who spotted the islands in 1616. The englishman Captain Cook, who visited the islands three times, gave it the name of Friendly Islands because of his friendly reception  by the islanders.

Chief Tui Taufa’ahau was converted to Christianity  in 1830 and united the archipelago into a kingdom in 1845. Taufa’ahau became the first king with the name of George I. On 14 November 1899 king George Tupou II accepted the protection of  Great Britain by treaty. On 4 June 1970 Tonga became an independent member of the Commonwealth.




George Tupou I


George Tupou II





George Tupou II


Salote Tupou III


Taufa’ahau Tupou IV




Taufa’ahau Tupou IV


Tupou V




The coat of arms of Tonga was designed in 1862 by prince Uelingatoni Ngu Tupou. The stars in the first quarter symbolize the most important archipelagos of the kingdom: Tongatapu, Ha’apai en Vava’u. In the second quarter is a crown symbolizing the monarchy. In the third a dove symbolizes peace, unity and christianity and in the fourth three swords symbolize the three royal houses of Tu’i Tonga, Tu’i Ha’stakalaua and Tu’i Kanokupolu to which the actual royal house traces its descent. On a six-pointed star in the middle is the cross symbolizing the nation.

The flags are of the national flag of Tonga.

The garland around the crown is the symbol of the judicial authority of the chief in the time before the kingdom. In the achievement the garland means the royal dependence of God’s grace.


Arms: ¼: Or, three six-pointed stars Argent; 2. Gules, the crown of Tonga proper; 3. Azure, a dove with a sprig of olive in his beak, proper; 4. Or, three swords per pale and per cross saltire proper. In nombril point a six-pointed star Argent, a cross Gules.

Supporters: Two national flags in saltire being Gules, a canton Argent, a cross Gules.

Crown: The Royal Crown of Tonga within a wreath of laurel  proper.

Motto: koe’o tua mo tonga kohoku tofi’a. (God and Tonga are my Heritage).


šSee illustration in the head of this essay


The seal of the Legislative Assembly of Tonga consists of the swords in saltire of the arms between three five-pointed stars and a latin cross.



Tonga Defense Service


The Tonga Defense Service is organized in a unified command system. It consists of three forces, the Regular Force, the Territorial Force and the Active Reserve. The three main component units of the Regular Force are the Land Force, Support TDS, and Navy. The Territorial Force and Reserve Force are under the direct control of the Headquarters, TDS. The Tongan military has 450 soldiers serving, and plans to expand.

The arms of the TDS is:


Arms: Gules, three swords in saltire, Or.

Crown: The royal Crown of Tonga

Motto: TERRA MARIQUE. (By Land and Sea)


Tonga Police Force



The emblem of the Tonga Police Force is:


Arms: Sable, a bordure Gules, the royal crown of Tonga proper, surrounded by a white garland; and in base the name of the service in red lettering on a black ribbon.


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© Hubert de Vries 2006-12.02 Updated 2009-12-21