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FIRST STAMPS Fiji in 1886.



1886, sterling.
1967, 100 seniti = 1 pa'anga.

Kingdom in the Pacific between New Zealand and Samoa comprising many islands of which about 20 are inhabited. Islands were discovered by the Dutch in 1616 and were visited by Cook in both 1773 and 1777. He was so impressed with the hospitality of the natives that they were called the 'Friendly Islands'. Despite this name, the islanders remained at war with the Fijians and, in the first half of the 19th century, fought a civil war among themselves.

At the end of this period, a strong chief was proclaimed king as George I and reigned until 1893. After his death, he was succeeded by his son, George II. In 1880 treaties had been signed with Britain and the USA and in 1900 the group became a British protectorate, in part to counteract the German attempts to increase their influence in the area. Tonga has remained a protectorate kingdom ever since.

Postal History
Early covers all emanate from the Wesleyan missionaries who had arrived in 1822. A postal service was organized by the Collector of Customs for Fiji in 1886 at Nukualofa, the capital, on Tongatapu the largest island. Before stamps were issued, a small number of Fijian stamps were made available, though these were not cancelled until they arrived at Suva. At the same time, by agreement with the British consulate, Germany opened a PA which handled parcels only.

POs exist on four islands and occasional mail also operates from Niuatobutabu and Niuafoou. The latter has no harbour, and mail for the islanders used to be floated ashore in a tin can and picked up by swimmers who would come out one or two miles. Mail for despatch was brought out by the swimmers. In later years canoes replaced the swimmers after one was attacked by a shark.

Tonga adopted the UPU rates in 1893 and many overprints resulted between 1897 and 1904. The name of the islands appears on the stamps as Toga; this is the native name for the islands, and is not a separate stamp-issuing country.

In October 1942 New Zealand troops landed on Tonga and Army PO No. 100 opened the following month. This was closed in January 1944.

South-East Pacific to 1940
Click map for larger view

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