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Patrons, Clients, and EmpireChieftaincy and Over-rule in Asia, Africa, and the Pacific$
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Colin Newbury

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780199257812

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199257812.001.0001

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(p.240) 13 Tonga
Patrons, Clients, and Empire


Oxford University Press

A centralized state was constructed in Tonga by a warrior chief of a maximal lineage. From 1845, through war, title succession, and adroit patronage of Wesleyan missionary converts, Taufa'ahau emerged in the manner of Kamehameha in Hawai'i as a territorial paramount by descent and achievement as King George Tupou I. New and old institutions were combined in the Tongan Constitution of 1875; and for the first time secular and religious titles were held by one high chief. His successors warded off a series of interventions by Fiji's governors, but the Colonial Office acknowledged Tonga's autonomy as a sovereign state from 1911. Since then, foreign settlement and foreign over-rule have been kept at bay by a patrimonial state that has managed to satisfy its nobility and office-holders and retain the loyalty of most Tongans.

Keywords:   patrimonial state, King George Tupou I, Wesleyan missionaries, Tongan Constitution

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