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Megalithic Stones In Tonga

Haʻamonga ʻa Maui (Burden of Maui) – is a stone trilithon located in Tonga, in the north of the island of Tongatapu, near the village of Niutōua, in Heketā. The weight of the visible part of each upright stone is approximately 30 – 40 tons.

Trilithon is constructed from three coral limestone slabs, and is up to 5.2 m high, 1.4 m wide, 5.8 m long. The weight of the visible part of each upright stone is approximately 30 – 40 tons. There are hewn deep mortises in the top of each upright stone to fit in the lintel.

Ha’amonga ‘a Maui was built at the beginning of the 13th century under the 11th Tuʻi Tonga Tuʻitātui (king strike the knee), most likely as a gateway to his royal compound Heketā.

One can pass through the portal and walk the short distance towards the ʻesi maka faakinanga (stone to lean against), which served as the king’s throne.

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Sitting with his back to that stone, he was safe from assassins from behind, and with his long stick he could hit every potential foe from the front on his knees.

According to the oral chronicles of Tonga nobleman, trilithon was built to symbolise the brotherhood of the sons of Tuʻitātui – Lafa (eastern stone) and Talaihaapepe (western stone).

The construction works involved large number of people and was done by transporting the stones on wooden slits and placing the stones with the help of earthen inclines and wooden constructions.

In popular myths the Haʻamonga is believed to have been made by the demigod Maui, as the stones would be too huge for mortals to handle. The word haʻamonga means: a stick with loads on both ends, carried over the shoulder.

Maui was supposed to have the stones obtained from ʻUvea (Wallis Island) and carried on to Tonga in a giant canoe. In reality the stones are of coral limestone, which structure matches that of old quarries along the neighboring coasts.


Photo Credits:

Photos from Flickr taken in Navutoka, Tonga

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