Date of Graduation

Spring 5-18-2024

Document Access

Project/Capstone - Global access

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Asia Pacific Studies (MAPS)


College of Arts and Sciences


Asia Pacific Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Genevieve Leung

Second Advisor

Dr. Esiteli Hafoka


Tongans are a Polynesian people similar in identity to their close cousins in neighboring Samoa, Hawai’i, New Zealand, and Tahiti. Tonga is the last surviving Polynesian kingdom in the Pacific. It is a nation comprised of over 170 islands which are both coral and volcanic. The islands were also called “The Friendly Islands” by British Captain James Cook in the 1700s because of their warm and welcoming people. Tongans have intermarried for many centuries, more so than ever before in recent decades. They have intermarried amongst other Polynesians like Samoans. The first official mixing across racial lines occurred with Fijians who are Melanesians which began from 900 AD to the present. Tongan marriages with Fijians and Samoans were mainly chiefly. Now, Tonga has only been mixing with other cultures such as the Middle East, Europe, the Americas, Africa and Asia fairly recently. Even though the number of mixed-race Tongans are growing, their Tongan identity is still very strong and intact. In the year 2000, the American Census Bureau declared that one in four Tongans in the country were more than one nationality. In this research paper, I interview Tongans of mixed heritage, and non-Tongans married to Tongans to explore their experiences, I found that the majority of these mixed Tongans identified with their Tongan side and non-Tongans married to Tongans also love the culture.