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We're looking at life in a corner of the world we almost never see, the kingdom - believe it or not - of Tonga. Yes, kingdom's the handle island authority assumes.

The author is John Northcott, a fellow Moonraker who migrated Down Under some years ago. He worked for the government in his civil engineer, but when economic problems took hold in New Zealand, followed some interesting vocations.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
Mirror image ... A keen amateur photographer, John reflects on the creative photographer at work.

He manufactured jewellery in sterling silver, stood in for Father Christmas each year the sleigh failed to reach the Antipodes, became an expert plongeur dans un restaurant, and good-looking fellow that he is, found plenty of work as a film extra.

Here's the second part of a short tale that followed a long stay in that South Pacific paradise, the Tongan arquipelago.

Studying our hero

I’ve divided the short story into three episodes. John’s tale is entitled Palangi, which the website Tongan Translator tells us means a ‘white person’.
PALANGI. John Northcott's story so far:

The storyteller, perhaps a local schoolboy, seems unfamiliar with the look and ways of Europeans and has been studying our hero, as the palangi recovers his luggage from the ship that brought him to Tonga.
The young narrator is surprised to find him arguing with Customs people, but then recognises that it might well be a ruse to avoid Customs dues. It works and the subject of payments is waived and the mood changes swiftly …

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
Ho ho ho ... Defnitely the real Santa explaining to John's son why emails to Santa's address need to go via the chimney rather than the web.

Perhaps he wasn't really angry ...

But then he was so nice and polite to the customs man and didn't have to pay duty. Maybe he wasn't really angry at all, perhaps he was just being clever.

I heard there were some good things in the tea chests (unloaded from the ship). There was a coat for Alisi and an electric sewing machine for Sesika who is the palangi's sister-in-law.

His wife showed her how to use it, but when Sesika tried, the cloth shot out of it at very fast. So his wife is clever too.

A Korean bandit

There was a hat for Latu. The palangi said it made him look like a Korean bandit. What's a Korean bandit?

I can't decide if he is an important man or not. Yesterday, he played with us. He carried Sefo around in the sack that a sucking pig came in and then put him in the umu pit. (Umu is an earthoven, says Tongan Translator.)

Everyone shouted Puaka because that's where the pig will go to be cooked. He had to stop after that and help Latu to make a table for the Methodist Conference feast.

But then he was invited to an utu and they presented him with some of the yams they had harvested. He made a speech and gave most of them back. He was invited to meet Havea, our chief, and Havea has even visited him.

Salesi, who is Havea's son invited him to dinner as well. So, I don't know...
More tomorrow ...
Previous episode here ⇒⇒