Tonga in the early 70s, by Tom Riddle, RPCV.

On my Flickr page you will find many pictures from Tonga in the 1970s from the islands of 'Eua, Niuatoputapu, Tafahi, and Niua Fo'ou.

My fellow Tongan Peace Corps, Emile Hons, has many more pictures of Tonga at a site he made,

a Below the pictures are some links to more about Tonga and a Tongan Cookbook..


If you are new to Adobe Acrobat reader, here is the best way to scroll through the book.
Niu Ideas
Niu Ideas

In 1975 the Peace Corps Tonga office gave every volunteer a 200-page cookbook that had been developed by and for Peace Corps Volunteers in Tonga. It's a beautiful book that among other things shows how to build a Tongan earth oven, umu. It also lists many Tongan plants and animals in English and in Tongan along with directions about how to cook them.

In 2015 I scanned the book and turned it into a PDF. I have two versions -- one for printing and one for viewing.

1, for viewing Niu Ideas

2, for high-quality printing Niu Ideas. (this is a monstrous file)

The fire has jumped
I found this on-line at

In 1976 I had the opportunity to interview some of the Tongan elders of Niua Fo'ou about the evacuation of their island in 1946. Some of those interviews were later published by the man who paid me to translate them, Garth Rogers, an anthropologist at the University of Auckland. The most colorful character was Palenapa Lavelua who was, well, a drunken bum and a good story teller. You'll find Palenapa's story in chapter 5 of The Fire has Jumped.









I wrote a story about Tavi, the legendary hermit savant from Denmark who lived in Tonga for about 30 years, that you can read here.

Another Tongan Peace Corps volunteer, Emile Hons, scanned some pictures of PCVs that were taken in the early 1970s. Emile found these pictures in the Peace Corps office and don't forget Emile's site,

Http:// is my home page. Here are some movies and pictures from places I've visited -- mostly in Asia.

Three of my best friends from my Tonga days have died. Tavi went back to Denmark in the early 1990s and died there in 1995. The doctors had told him that he needed to have his legs amputated. After that either he had a heart attack or intentionally overdosed on his own medication. Either way he lived a noble and good life and he was a tremendous influence on my own life. You can read a long memoir that I wrote about Tavi at The memoir will give you some idea of what it was like to live as an expatriate on the outer islands of Tonga in the 1970s.

Ralph Masi or "Lolo" left Tonga in the early 1990s and went to Japan where he taught English. Sometime after that he developed brain cancer. His sister eventually brought him back to the USA where he died. The time that Lolo and I shared a house together was one of the happiest times of my life.

Ifrain Ortiz or "Ifa" became a chicken farmer in Puerto Rico and one day in 2005 he had a heart attack while working in his fields and died. He called his farm, "Hacienda Niua Fo'ou." Ifa was a role model of kindness and re-defined what "open hearted' means.

So I would like to dedicate this book to the memory of my beloved friends: Tavi, Lolo, and Ifa. Three men whose virtues of caring and generosity raised the bar higher than most of us can ever hope to reach.

-'ofa atu,

Tom Riddle, USA, 2023