SQUIZ THE WORLD (1400 × 700px)

Squiz The World Goes To… Tonga!


Hunga Tonga–Hunga Haʻapai eruption and tsunami: https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/tonga-eruption-blasted-unprecedented-amount-of-water-into-stratosphere  

Ota Ika recipe: https://www.heartfoundation.org.nz/wellbeing/healthy-recipes/ota-ika-raw-fish-salad

Episode Transcript
Each week, we give the world globe a spin, and see where we land. Then we take the kids of Australia on an audio excursion to visit that country and its people.

I’m Amanda Bower, and today on Squiz the World we’re visiting Tonga, which was in the the news a lot last year, because of a gigantic underwater volcanic eruption that covered Tonga in ash, destroyed houses, and caused tsunamis all over the globe.

But we all know that there’s so much more to a country than its natural disasters. Strap yourselves into the Squiz Kids Super Fast Supersonic Jetliner as we take off and take a squiz at Tonga …

Just the Facts!
Tonga is a country of 170 islands in the Pacific Ocean—people only live on 36 of those islands, though, so it’s a great place if you’re in the market for a deserted tropical island! Just over 100,000 people live in Tonga, which is east of Australia, and north of New Zealand – it’s closest neighbors are Fiji and Samoa.

Tonga has a king and queen, but since 2010, the day-to-day decisions about how the country is run are made by the Prime Minister and elected government. The king’s name is Tupuo VI, and before his brother died and Tupuo became king, he was Tonga’s high commissioner to Australia, and lived in Canberra.

Now His Majesty mostly lives in the royal palace in the capital, Nukuʻalofa… although he has other palaces on other islands.

Tourists love to visit Tonga for its beautiful white beaches, coral reefs, tropical rainforest and gorgeous swimming lagoons… AND because they have a chance to swim with humpback whales.

Every year, whales swim almost 5,000km from Antarctica to the warm waters of Tonga to breed, give birth and raise their young before returning back to the cold. I’ve popped a link in your episode notes to a web page called “Ten photos that will make you want to swim with whales in Tonga now” … and it really does make me want to pull out my passport!

Whenever you travel, it’s important to learn a few words in that country’s language. It’s a great way to show respect. So, let’s….

Learn the Lingo

In Tonga, everyone speaks the Tongan language. Squiz Kid Zealan, whose Dad is Tongan – and whose family is safe after the volcano eruption, thank goodness – is helping us. Here’s how you say hello:
Malo e lelei

Give it a try!

And here’s how you say thank you:
Malo Aupito

Malo aupito, Zealan!

Now that you can communicate a little bit, it’s….

Time for School
Just like in Australia, kids in Tonga wear a uniform to school. But the colour of the uniform tells you what kind of school they go to! Red uniforms are for public schools; Catholic schools are usually light blue; Anglican are navy blue… you get the idea. Lessons are held in Tongan, which is what kids speak at home and in the playground, but everyone learns English as well, and the exams that all kids take at the end of primary school are in English.

Just about everyone in Tonga can read and write, and the country is seen as a role model for other Pacific Islands. In fact, Tongans have one of the highest rates of PhDs per head of population in the world – a PhD is what you get when you keep going with your education for SO LONG that you write a kind of book, get a fancy degree, and can call yourself “doctor”. There’s a collection of every PhD written by Tongans at the University of the South Pacific.

Now, when people visit Australia, there are things they find AMAZING that we think are no big deal. Like kangaroos, or Vegemite, or driving on the left hand side of the road. And Tonga has something pretty astonishing happen every Sunday….

Believe It Or Not
Believe it or not, it’s illegal in Tonga to conduct business, play sport, dance, listen to loud music, go fishing, or even do chores on a Sunday. Tonga is a very religious country, and on Sunday, everything shuts down in favour of family and church. So don’t even think about doing the washing on the last day of the week! But if you’re visiting, don’t worry… because lots of tourists come to Tonga, the rules are different at resorts. Just don’t leave the resort and start tossing a rugby around on a Sunday, even if rugby union is the national sport…

Phew! I’ve learned a ton about Tonga, and now I’m starving! I think it might be…

Dinner Time
Now the first thing to know is that if you’re invited to someone’s house in Tonga for dinner, DO NOT bring any food! Often in Australia we bring something to contribute to a meal, or a box of chocolates, but in Tonga that is extremely insulting. Basically it’s telling your host that you don’t think they’ll have enough food, so you had to bring your own. Not the message you want to send!!
So, what will your host cook for you? Well, given that Tonga is made up of islands in the Pacific, it shouldn’t be surprising that coconut milk, coconut cream, and coconut flesh show up in a lot of Tongan recipes. And probably not surprising that fish is also often on the menu.
Ota Ika is a combination of both ingredients… it’s freshly caught raw fish that is marinated in citrus juice and coconut milk until the acid of the juice basically cooks the fish. Then it’s served with vegetables. If you’ve ever eaten ceviche in Peru, or poke in Hawaii, you’ll have an idea of what I’m talking about. Or, you could just go to your episode notes for the recipe, and make it yourselves! Bon appetit!

The S’Quiz
This is the part of the podcast where you get to test how well you’ve been listening.

Question 1. Tonga tops the world in having the highest rate of WHAT kind of fancy educational degree?
Question 2. What kind of whales travel to Tonga to have their babies?
Question 3. What two ingredients are commonly used in Tongan food, and heroed in Ota Ika?