Here's the final part of the tale that came from John Northcott's stay in the South Pacific's remote kingdom of Tonga.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
Eye-opener ... John Northcott's stay in the island kingdom certainly opened some eyes. The fellow drinks but doesn't fall over!
To those of us quite removed from the cut-off life of the island community, John's story conveys much of the ways of people seemingly uninfluenced by non-stop soaps and other television negatives.

Did he enjoy his time on the island? He certainly did, he told me, and his story certainly seems to confirm it.

The remote island group had entertained Captain Cook and his crew back in the 18th Century, not once but several times, and lucky John got to see why.

Silver jewellery

John Northcott, a fellow Moonraker, migrated from Salisbury to Down Under some years ago.

He worked the New Zealand government for many years as a civil engineer, his old profession from back in Salisbury.

In a land famous for people turning their skills to many tasks other than their normal occupations, John put an old hobby to work and manufactured silver jewellery.

In recent years he has developed a full beard, so it was perhaps inevitable that he would find a considerable amount of seasonal work as Santa Claus.

In tougher times, John admits he worked as a plongeur for restaurants, though I suspect his natural talent would have found him much more in eaterie kitchens than emptying overfilled sinks.

With his personality and natural good looks, it's little surprise that the film industry Down Under chased him for character roles.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
Cook's tour ... HMS Resolution and Discovery on Captain Cook's third voyage, here in neighbouring Tahiti, painted by James Cleveley, carpenter on Resolution. Public Domain File: John Cleveley the Younger, Views of the South Seas (No. 3 of 4), created between 1787 and 1788, with thanks to Wikipedia.
Here's the last part of John's gentle look at South Seas life. The story so far:

In awe

A local lad, obviously in awe of the white man who has arrived on the island, tells of his surprise watching our hero, the palangi, dealing with local life.

The lad's mouth falls open when the fellow dares to argue with a Customs man in a uniform and seems amazed that he can drink kava without falling over.


Part 4: Tonight the palangi went with Latu to the kava club. He doesn't just taste kava there, he drinks it all night.

He doesn't walk home backwards either like some of the men do. I thought palangis didn't like kava. I think it tastes horrible.

He's got a bottle of whisky, too and he has a drink of it every night. Usually, Latu won't even let beer in the house because he's a strong Methodist, but somehow, this is different.

I've never seen the palangi drunk, so perhaps that's why.

Sunday is the best day. He looks forward to it, too. While we are at church, the food is cooking in the umu so it can be dug up for a feast when we get home.

Butter and jam

The whole family sit around and eat it. He has a knife and fork and it looks very difficult. I think fingers, like everybody else uses, are much easier.

In the afternoon, he joins us in the truck and we go to the bakery for hot bread. On the way there they let him sit in the front.

On the way back the bread goes there and he gets in the back with us. He says he likes it better in the back.

If you know where to go, there is a fale koloa where you can go round the back and buy butter and jam, even on a Sunday.

The first time we went there, they were afraid to sell it to us because the palangi was with usk, but Latu told them it was all right.

I hope we get to keep our palangi.

The previous episodes are here A Moonraker's paradise in the sun and here Shout if you want to charm a Customs man and here Seen the way the white man sits?

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