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Pacific

Princess’s latest book a tribute to Tonga’s warrior king

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ on Air

A Tongan Princess is self-publishing her second short story in remembrance of her great-great-great grandfather, King Tupou I.

Princess Frederica Lupe’uluiva Tuita is the daughter of the King of Tonga’s only sister, Princess Royal Salote Mafile’o Pilolevu Tuita.

Princess Frederica says as a child, she was always intrigued by her ancestors and wanted to know more about their personalities and journeys in life.

“It was important for me to know that they were human beings just like me and they had thoughts and feelings.”

She says she chose to publish the book on her own to experience every stage of writing, publishing, and sharing a book.

Her short story is an e-book called Rise to Power, which launches on December 4. It is a fictional story inspired by the early life events of King Tupou I, the founding father of modern Tonga.

Forced to flee

In particular, it follows the story of King Tupou I’s early years in which his mother, Hoamofaleono, fled Tongatapu with her infant son to an outer island, Ha’apai, at risk of him being killed as his birth posed a threat to rulers at that time.

“I mean you can just imagine at that time just having had a child and then trying to find a way out, You don’t know who you can trust,”Princess Frederica says.

She says the timing for the launch of the short story is also relevant as December 4 marks the birth date and the commemoration of the beginning of King Tupou I’s reign.

It was also the date when he unified Tonga under his Christian rule.

Princess Frederica says although her story is based on true events, she’s labelled it as fictional due to additional characters added to the story who didn’t exist in Tonga’s history.

She’s no stranger when it comes to writing, having released her first short story earlier this year, Dancing Shadows.

The story was based on the relationship between her mother and her great-grandmother, the late Queen Salote Tupou III.

Legacy of strenth passed down

She explains her mother falling asleep and watching her grandmother’s hands and the shadows as she was dancing, planning movements for songs her grandmother composed.

“It’s a beautiful story and a beautiful moment that would be lovely to share. Not just because it was my mother and Queen Salote, but because I felt it would resonate with anyone, even people who are not Tongan because most people have a very special relationship with their grandparents.”

Talking about the challenges when writing the story, Princess Frederica says the biggest one was seeking approval from her family.

“This was my challenge, seeking approval from my family to share these stories because this is not just my story, it’s everyone’s story. But I am thankful they’ve been very supportive”

She says she hopes her short story can encourage the young Tongan diaspora.

“I hope to let young people know that it’s within them to be strong, because this history is their history, and they are continuing this legacy of strength that’s been passed down to them directly from Tupou I. He was a warrior and they are warriors as well - it’s just a different battle.”

Te Rito