The structures, designs, and materials used in architecture in Tonga
substantially changed with the arrival of the Europeans.
Having good relations with the Europeans and quickly adopting foreign influences
made the adaptation of European styles and materials an easy change, although the
lack of economic wealth still made this a slow transition.
This shift began in about 1800 as missionaries and other settlers arrived, but didn't
arrive in significant numbers until the mid-1800s. The first significant move the
people made was adopting stronger materials; most of the historic materials, like
palm leaves, broke down rather quickly so incorporating carpentry skills and hard
woods helped their traditional fale last longer.
Later, the architecture continued to change as bricks, sheet metal, and nails were
added to make construction easier and longer lasting. At the same time buildings
foreign in style were introduced. The capital of Nuku'alofa built a few buildings
in the Victorian style, including the palace (1867), which incorporated elements
of both Tonga and Britain.
This led to a movement of numerous houses being built in the Victorian style, mostly
in the form of pre-fabricated houses from New Zealand,
which represented that country's architectural style. These houses were almost
always painted white and even today most houses are painted white, no matter their