Battle of Velata ( Ha'apai)

The Battle of Velata was a battle between Laufilitonga, the monarch from Tuʻi Tonga dynasty, and Taufa'ahau, the heir apparent to Tu'i Kanokupolu dynasty and the monarch of Tonga. The battle occurred in the location of Tau'akipulu, Ha'apai, in 1826.

Origins of battle

In early January, 1826, Tupou (Namoa) returned to Tongatapu (the main island of Tonga) and with him was his great-nephew, Taufa'ahau. The return of Namoa (Tupou) and having Taufa'ahau with him, was in itself a public declaration that Taufa'ahau would be the future ruler of Tonga.

Laufilitonga was infuriated as he received the news that Taufa'ahau, who was born and bred in Ha'apai, arrived in Tongatapu as heir to the throne of Tonga. However, Laufilitonga did not declare war on Taufa'ahau in Tongatapu, but decided to set sail to Ha'apai and declare war on Taufa'ahau from there.

Laufilitonga sent a message to Taufa'ahau from Ha'apai. The message was, "Taufa'ahau tafitafi ho va'e pea Tapu keke toe tu'umai ki Ha'apai" ("Taufa'ahau, you are forbidden to set foot on Ha'apai again"). The message not only read as a declaration of war, but banned Taufa'ahau from his own home.

As soon as Taufa'ahau received the message, he set sail for Ha'apai. On his arrival at Ha'apai, Taufa'ahau was captured and imprisoned by Laufilitonga's warriors, who intended to kill him the following morning, as it was already nightfall. However, Taufa'ahau escaped while the guards were still asleep.

He then went to Noble Malupo's estate at 'Uiha and informed him that he accepted Laufilitonga's challenge for war. Malupo's estate, 'Uiha, was where Taufa'ahau's father (Tupouto'a) was buried, and not only that, the mother of Taufa'ahau's father (Tupouto'a) was from the Noble Malupo's family. From the Malupo residence, Taufa'ahau then went on to recruit Moatunu, a warrior whom he knew very well. Moatunu's residence was in Ha'afeva. Ha'afeva, which means "Which Clan?", is one of the islands in Ha'apai. Ha'afeva is the family estate of Noble Tu'uhetoka. The noble title Tu'uhetoka was initially bestowed on Moatunu by Taufa'ahau.

At first Moatunu was going to support Laufilitonga, but when Taufa'ahau arrived at Ha'afeva and asked for his support he was in a total dilemma, because he had already given his word to Laufilitonga. However, he had known Taufa'ahau since childhood. Taufa'ahau was born in Ofolanga, Ha'apai. Moatunu and Taufa'ahau were blood related, through Taufa'ahau's mother, 'Anaseini. Moatunu's sister, Vaine, spurred Moatunu to fight for Taufa'ahau. While Moatunu was still hesitating, Taufa'ahau grabbed Vaine's baby daughter, 'Anaseini and said, "I am taking my mother, 'Anaseini to help me in the battle".'Anaseini( Vaine's baby)was named by Taufa'ahau after his mother, 'Anaseini. Vaine followed Taufa'ahau and baby 'Anaseini, and then turned around towards her brother and yelled out, "Moatunu, good bye! we are going with Taufa'ahau, to fight the battle." Moatunu instantly ran after his sister, calling out, "Vaine, come back and bring back the little girl ('Anaseini), I will go with Taufa'ahau and fight." Vaine and the baby came back, and Moatunu went with Taufa'ahau to fight.

The battle

Along with the few warriors supporting Taufa'ahau and Moatunu, the fight was fierce against the hundreds of Laufilitonga's warriors.

Taufa'ahau and Moatunu's fighting skills and bravery were unstoppable. The women who stood and witnessed the battle were holding to their chests with utmost amazement at the strength and enormous bravery (Fanga 'Ihe Si) of the two (Taufa'ahau and Moatunu).

The noble title Tu'uhetoka originated from the Battle of Velata. After the battle, Taufa'ahau slept while Moatunu was standing on guard. Taufa'ahau woke up and noticed that Moatunu was still standing, guarding him. Taufa'ahau then bestowed the title, Tu'uhetoka, on this great warrior. Moatunu was the first holder of the title, Tu'uhetoka, in 1826. Also other names or Tongan phrases emerged as the result of the Battle of Velata. This included locations or names like Tau'aki Pulu (they have bullets, we have bullets), Fanga'ihe Si, Loto'aniu, Tongaleleka (Tonga flee in fright), Pangai Lifuka (landing on the marked location), Fetu'ufuka (marked by the star), etc. This also included the very famous Tongan phrase "Tu'aTalatau Tu'ataKilangi Houmakelikao 'ae Houma Niutao," which in English refers to an individual or insignificant character who picks a fight or task that is far beyond his ability, resulting in total failure. The phrase originated when Namoa (Tupou) reprimanded Laufilitonga (Tuʻi Tonga Dynasty) for his behaviour (declaring war on Taufa'ahau). Laufilitonga was very remorseful and submissive as he received the full force of the fury of Namoa.


Taufa'ahau defeated Laufilitonga at the Battle of Velata. This battle also marked the end of any ruling authority of Laufilitonga and the Tuʻi Tonga dynasty. Laufilitonga fled from Ha'apai to Tongatapu for his life and sought refuge in Namoa (King Siosaia Tupou 1830-45). Namoa's mother, HRH Fatafehi 'o Lapaha (the last female monarch of the Tuʻi Tonga dynasty) was not only older than Laufilitonga's father but also the only sister. This meant that by Tonga custom, Laufilitonga was of much lower status than Namoa (Tupou). Laufilitonga's life was spared by Taufa'ahau because of Namoa (a.k.a. Tupou). However, Taufa'ahau did confiscate Laufilitonga's wife, Lupepau'u. Lupepau'u became one of Taufa'ahau's female partners.


*Taufa'ahau (King Siaosi Tupou I)
*'Ana Niumeitolu (first granddaughter of King Siosaia Tupou, who died in 1952 at the age of over 100 years old).
*Salote (Charlotte) Mafile'o Tupou (granddaughter of King Siosaia Tupou) who died in 1962 at the age of over 105 years old.
*Some older members of descendants of King Mumui, Tu'i Kanokupolu and HRH Fatafehi 'o Lapaha, last female Ruler of Tu'iTonga dynasty.
*Rowe G Stringer, A Pioneer. A Memoir of, The Rev. John Thomas, P/41(1885).

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Ha'afeva (Ha'apai) — Haokinaafeva is a small island in the Haokinaapai group of Tonga, but still the main island of the Lulunga archipelago. Kolongatata is the name given to the village on Ha afeva and is a reference to Ha afeva s exposure to strong winds.The area… …   Wikipedia

  • Culture of Tonga — Tonga College students performing a Kailao dance The Tongan archipelago has been inhabited for perhaps 3000 years, since settlement in late Lapita times. The culture of its inhabitants has surely changed greatly over this long time period. Before …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.