Pacific Island Books

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Art of Tonga, The by Keith St Cartmail. Published by University of Hawai'i Press. ISBN 0-8248-1972-1. Recommended retail price $30.

Tongan art with its elegant sculpture, headrests, body adornment, clubs, containers, tools and fier work, has made an outstanding contribution to the culture of Oceania. In The Arty of Tonga, Keith St Cartmail's achievement is to draw together all the strands of this island kingdom's material culture into a single volume ... surprisingly no other work has done this to date. The author begins by outlining the history of Tonga, then comprehensively details all aspects of Tongan art, ancient and modern. He clearly documents the significance and widespread influence of this beautiful artwork through West Polynesia, and argues that despite recent neglect, and in spite of being mutilated and destroyed by missionaries, and dispersed by collectors to all corners of the earth, Tongan art is nonetheless alive and well. Authoritative and accessible, The Art of Tonga is lavishly illustrated with superb and important examples of Tongan art from throughout its history. It is essential reading for anyone with an interest in the magnificent cultures of Oceania. Soft cover, 152 pages, published in 1997.

Tongan fan from The Art of Tonga (55.19K)


Making Mats and Barkcloth in the Kingdom of Tonga by Kerry James. Recommended retail price $6.

Tonga is renowned as a center of excellence for both mat making and the production of fine bark cloth. This booklet covers history, materials, tools and techniques. Originally published in 1988, reprinted in 1993. Soft cover, 23 pages.


Tapa in Tonga by Wendy Arbeit. Recommended retail price $9, our price $8.50.

This slim volume contains a wealth of information about Tongan tapa (bark cloth from the paper mulberry tree). Manufacturing techniques, decoration, the various patterns and methods of use are all included. Soft cover, 32 pages.


The Fire Has Jumped: Eyewitness Accounts of the Eruption and Evacuation of Niuafo'ou, Tonga edited by Garth Rogers. Recommended retail price $ 10, our price $9.50

This extraordinary little book tells the story of an eruption on world-famous Niuafo'ou or Tin Can Island in Tonga. Eyewitness accounts of the eruption and evacuation of the island and subsequent return paint a vivid picture. If you intend visiting the island to see the unique megapode bird or are simply a yachtie in transit this is essential reading. By Mocaki Takai and 14 others. Soft cover, 127 pp.

Click here for map from The Fire has Jumped edited by Garth Rogers (33.75K)


Tonga by Nancy Keller and Deanna Swaney. Recommended retail price $14.95, our price $14.50

Tonga was never colonized by any of the colonial powers during the great carve-up of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It remained then what it is now … a proud independent kingdom. While “missionaryised” like most of the Pacific, Tonga remains the South Pacific’s hidden secret. This Lonely Planet guide provides 20 easy to read maps, extensive information on snorkelling, diving, eating, relaxing etc. All the usual Lonely Planet stuff in other words. Soft cover, 201 pages.


Tonga~Samoa Handbook by David Stanley. Published by Moon Travel Handbooks. ISBN 1-56691-174-5. Recommended retail price $15.95.

Despite the title, this comprehensive work covers Tonga, Samoa and Niue. This "Polynesian triangle" is a little "off the beaten track" but author Stanley tells you how to get there and what to do and see when you get there. There are 32 detailed maps, information on where to stay and eat, and vital information on local culture and how you should behave.

While both Tonga and Samoa are widely known, the little island nation of Niue is not. Tonga~Samoa handbook gives enough useful information to enable you to plan a visit to this South pacific gem. Soft cover, 321 pages. Published in 1999.

Click on links below for these books.

Beginnings and endings with LIFETIMES in between by Brian Mellonie with illustrations by Robert Ingpen and Dineke Kay.

Birds of Fiji, Tonga and Samoa by Dick Watling, illustrated by Chloe Talbot-Kelly.

South Pacific Islands by Joan Beard

South Pacific Islands, Nelles Guide by Michael Brillat

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Last modified on Thursday, July 10, 2003