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Many of the best people we have met in our life are Tongan. Friendly, honest, intelligent. On average people are much happier than Americans and Europeans, where we have lived most of our lives. On the streets one can get a friendly “hello” or more likely the Tongan version “bye”. Many people make eye contact. Children are far happier than American or European children. Examples: two boys from the village, age 8, run and skip from the village 10 minutes away and we can hear them singing from the time they left the village, at the top of their lungs, and louder as they get closer: “You are the love of my life.” The rest is garbled. They arrive with big smiles, laughing. When I (Sergai) was in the hospital here in serious if not critical condition, with IV antibiotic, a family adopted me and someone stayed with me 24 hrs a day to help out and repeatedly told me they want nothing in return. We would like to see the wonderful aspects of the Tongan culture preserved and see some aspects of other cultures interwoven that would fit well with Tongan culture and make the life of Tongans even better.

Tongans are Polynesian, but very few are pure Polynesian—there is Melanesian, European, and some Oriental blood mixed in. Most like to talk to and mix with foreigners and are not racists. On average they are bigger than most people in the world, not only bigger bone structure but also fatter.

It is frequently very different to look in the eyes of a Tongan compared to those of a European or American person. (Tongans call Europeans and Americans—mostly the white people—“palangi”. The term means “the ones who descended from Heaven”) Even though (like everywhere else) there are some corrupt people here, one sees more frequently in Tonga an open, loving, honest attitude compared to the widespread palangi look of suspicion, greed, and fear. In some ways it is the best society I have encountered. Many people around the world could learn something from the Tongan ways. It is worth sociological studies by people with a clear, open and unbiased approach, interested in creating a better world, where people are happier. However there are some problems, as delineated in the section called Imperfect Paradise. Please see more photos of our village friends in the drop down arrow next to the Wonderful Tongan People tab.

Another example of  the Tongan personality is an experience Mary had on her returning to our island from Neiafu at night with only five men on the boat, no other women. She was sitting outside enjoying one of those wonderful warm Tongan nights, full of stars (there are more stars in the Southern Hemisphere and more shooting stars), little wind, calm ocean. The men were inside the cabin with the skipper, quietly talking, when they suddenly started to laugh continuously for twenty minutes, some rolling on the floor in pure joy. The kind of merriment she has never seen anywhere else in men in all her 84 years.