Social Life in Tonga
The people of Tonga are very humble and modest as they rarely
express themselves in a way to offend another. This comes in respecting other people,
dressing modestly, avoiding outward signs of wealth or affection, and having a reverence
for God as most people are Christian.
As a visitor to Tonga, that same modesty is expected; modesty
in dress, actions, words, and every aspect of your life. Many of the most important
behavioral restrictions to be aware of are related to dress, dating (see below for
both), and dining (see our Tonga Food & Dining
Page for more information). Also try to avoid being loud, rude, showing
off wealth, or getting drunk in public.
The Tongans have created a dress that combines historic and
modern aspects of style, both Tongan and European in origin. Today most men (but
not all as jeans are becoming popular) wear a short garment called a tupenu
for pants (similar to a sarong or a skirt) and a western-styled shirt on top, whether
that is as informal as a t-shirt or as formal as a suit jacket and tie. Likewise,
women wear a tupenu that tends to be much longer than men's. The usually
top for women is a dress or a local shirt called a kofu. For many formal
occasions men will wear a ta'uvala and women will wear a kiekie,
both of which are a type of pants, but more formal and in the case of kiekies,
much more decorational.