Vavaʻu is the island group of one large island (ʻUtu Vavaʻu) and 40
smaller ones in Tonga. It is part of
District which includes
several other individual islands. According to tradition the Maui god
fished up both
Vavaʻu but put a little more effort into
Vavaʻu rises 204 metres (669 ft) above sea level at
Mount Talau. The capital is Neiafu, which is the fifth largest city in
Tonga, situated at the Port of Refuge (Puatalefusi or
1.1 Myths and legends
1.2 Recorded history
5 See also
7 Further reading
8 External links
Myths and legends
Polynesia it is explained that the islands were created by the god
Maui, who caught the bottom of the sea with his magic hook, fished up
and left on the sea surface what became the islands of Vavaʻu. In
total there are 70 islands, of which 17 are inhabited, spread over six
Don Francisco Mourelle de la Rúa, commanding Spanish frigate Princesa
was the first European to come to Vavaʻu, on 4 March 1781. He charted
Martín de Mayorga
Martín de Mayorga who was the
Viceroy of New
Spain at the
James Cook knew about the islands a decade before,
but the people in
Haʻapai told him it would be no good for him to go
there as there was no harbour. Apparently they did not want him to go
there, and Cook heeded their advice anyway.
But Mourelle found excellent anchoring, of which he was in desperate
need after having failed on
Fonualei (Bitterness island) and Late, and
he gave the spot the name Port of Refuge. But his original Port of
Refuge was the bay on the west coast of the main island, near
Longomapu. In 1793
Alessandro Malaspina visited for a month, following
up on Mourelle and claiming the islands for Spain.
George Tupou I
George Tupou I instituted the
Vavaʻu Code in
Vavaʻu group measures about 21 km from east to west and
25 km from north to south.
Vavaʻu had 14,922 inhabitants at the
2001 census, of which 4,051 lives in the capital Neiafu. The
District outside of
Vavaʻu Group are uninhabited.
The main island of ’Utu Vava’u is 97 square kilometres
(37 sq mi), the second largest island in Tonga.
Vava'u is a coral reef with superior oblique in the north up to 200
metres (660 ft) high cliffs. On the south side of the island
group, it is dissolved into many small islands and waterways. The
largest of these waterways, the fjord-like Ava Pulepulekai channel
extends 11 kilometres (6.8 mi) inland from the harbor of Neiafu,
’Utu Vava’u island is a raised platform of coral cliffs on the
north coast and a low and irregular coastline south that opens in a
complex network of channels, bays and islands forming one of the best
protected natural harbors in the Pacific.
’Utu Vava’u is also home to the ʻEneʻio Botanical Garden,
Tonga's only botanical garden.
Neiafu (left) and Fungamisi (centre) at the Port of Refuge
Vavaʻu has a much warmer climate than the rest of
Tonga except the
Niuas, a group of islands furthest to the north. Because of the
island's warm climate and fertile soil,
Vavaʻu is a haven for vanilla
and pineapple growers as well as other tropical fruits.
Fulivai – The Noble
Fulivai was appointed as Governor of
Vavaʻu in July 2011.
Sione Laumanuʻuli Luani was Governor until he died suddenly on
12 May 2010.
Samisoni Fonomanu Tu'i'afitu was appointed Acting Governor of
Vavaʻu in 1988 and then Governor of
Vavaʻu in 1991. He died on 4
Fatafehi Tuʻipelehake was Governor from 1952 until 1965.
Hon. ʻAkauʻola Siosateki
Tonga Veikune Faletau was Governor from
1936 until 1939 before becoming Minister of Police from 1939 until
Viliami Tungī Mailefihi
Viliami Tungī Mailefihi was Governor from 1912 until 1918.
Whale watching in Vava'u
Due to its scenic beauty
Vavaʻu is particularly popular with sailors
and other tourists and is one of the most important tourism sites in
Tonga. From May to October, the Port of ’Utu Vava’u welcomes
sailing boats from all over the world to dive with birthing humpback
whales and explore underwater caves.
Tourism, agriculture and fishing are the main sources of income of the
population. The vanilla grown here is considered one of the best in
the world. Moreover, even giant clams and pearls are cultured.
^ Landin Carrasco, Amancio Mourelle de la Rúa, explorador del
Pacífico Madrid, 1971, p.79.
^ "Table G3: Population growth by division, district and village
Tonga Department of Statistics. Retrieved 21 February
^ Noble Luani dies suddenly in Vava'u
^ ['Akau'ola Siosateki
Tonga Veikune Faletau]
Gerstle, Donna (1973). Gentle People: Into the Heart of Vavaʻu,
Kingdom of Tonga: 1781–1973. San Diego: Tofua Press.
Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Vava'u.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Vava'u.
http://www.vavau.to a web portal service for the Vava’u Island group
Divisions of Tonga