16 Sep 2013

New book in NZ describes Tonga land survey and unique allotment system

4:48 am on 16 September 2013

A new book just released in New Zealand describes the task of surveying the land of the Kingdom of Tonga over 50 years ago.

One Hundred Fathoms Square details the work of Bruce Alexander and Larry Wordsworth, who surveyed land in Tonga in the mid-1950s, leading to the allotment of 8.25 acres to every Tongan male over the age of 16.

The Director of Pasifika at Massey University, Associate Professor Malakai Koloamatangi, says it's a fascinating read and had a long journey to publication.

Associate Professor Koloamatangi was involved as a translator for key terms used by the New Zealand authors.

He says it's not just a tale of a job done 60 years ago, but a crucial part of Tonga's history.

"To mind, there hasn't been any work done by historians through the 1950s so they're filling the gap as it were and also with these lovely pictures. And Tongans will recognise many family members and relatives in those photographs."

Associate Professor Malakai Koloamatangi.