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In Tongan mythology, or oral history, ʻAhoʻeitu is a son of the god ʻEitumātupuʻa and a mortal woman, ʻIlaheva Vaʻepopua. He became the first king of the Tuʻi Tonga (Tonga king) dynasty in the early 10th century, dethroning the previous one with the same name but originating from the uanga (maggots) instead of divine; see Kohai, Koau, mo Momo.

Trip to the sky

When ʻAhoʻeitu was growing up, he asked his mother about his father. His mother, ʻIlaheva, was a human what is now known as Popua near the large lagoon of Tongatapu. ʻAhoʻeitu's mother told him that his father was a god living in the sky. ʻIlaheva directed him to the great toa tree. The lad climbed up, went over the road as his mother had said, and found his father catching doves. ʻEitumātupuʻa was moved to see his son, and invited him to his house for kava and food.

After that, the god sent him to his other sons, ʻAhoʻeitu's older half-brothers. These other sons, who were also living in the sky, were at that moment playing sika-ʻulu-toa, a dart-throwing game with reeds having heads made of toa wood. When those young men found out that the good-looking boy was their half-brother, they grew envious. They tore ʻAhoʻeitu to pieces, cooked him (some sources say they did not) and ate him, tossing his head into some hoi plants which have become poisonous ever since.

Some time after, ʻEitumātupuʻa sent a woman to fetch ʻAhoʻeitu, but she returned with the message that the boy was not to be found. The god demanded his other sons to come, and he forced them to vomit into a large wooden bowl by tickling their throats. Noticing the boy's head missing, ʻEitumātupuʻa sent a messenger to find the head and also the bones. Everything was put in the bowl, and water was poured on it as were the leaves of the nonufiafia, which is a known medicinal plant, able to revive people who were near death. The bowl then was put behind the house, and inspected from time to time until ʻAhoʻeitu as found sitting up in it.

They all were brought into ʻEitumātupuʻa's house, and the god spoke angrily to his elder sons, saying that they were murderers. He punished them by confining them to the sky, while ʻAhoʻeitu was made to descend to earth and become king of Tonga. The wicked half-brothers repented, and begged their father that they also be allowed to follow ʻAhoʻeitu to earth. The god eventually relented, but stipulated that even though they were older, they were to become servants to ʻAhoʻeitu.

Royal lineage

His older brothers were:

  • Talafale; he became the Tuʻi Faleua (king of the second house), a spare dynasty in case ʻAhoʻeitu's line would ever die out (which apparently has still not happened). He also became the Tuʻi Pelehake (king rising pet), another very high title. For years Fatafehi kept both titles, but after his death in 1999, only the Tuʻi Pelehake title went to his son, and the Tuʻi Faleua returned to king Tāufaʻāhau.
  • Matakehe; Line became extinct during the reign of Tuʻi Tonga Tuʻitatui. He, and his younger brother Tuʻi Folaha were the guardians of the Tuʻi Tonga.
  • Māliepō; his descendants are now known as Lauaki and they are the royal undertakers.
  • Tuʻi Loloko; still extant. He and his younger brother were to govern in the name of their lord.
  • Tuʻi Folaha; Line became extinct during the reign of Tuʻi Tonga Tuʻitatui. Along with Matakehe, they were the guardians of the Tuʻi Tonga with the title falling on to aho eitu's paternal cousin's whitch was known as the Tu'i Veukiso ultimately having a bloodline directly connected to Houma a ,village in the south-west of tongatapu.

ʻAhoʻeitu's name has been used over the centuries up to today for several other chiefly or royal descendants. The current king, Tupou VI, for instance, was baptised as ʻAhoʻeitu ʻUnuakiʻotonga Tukuʻaho.

External links

  • ʻAhoʻeitu the first .Tuʻi Tonga


  • R.D. Craig, Dictionary of Polynesian Mythology (Greenwood Press: New York, 1989), 2-3;
  • N. Rutherford, Friendly Islands: History of Tonga (Oxford University Press: Oxford, 1977), 27-8.
  • E.W. Gifford; Tongan myths and tales, BPB Bulletin 8; 1924
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