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Sunday, August 21, 2005

trouble in tonga: pirates, sunken treasure, and restless natives

No matter how powerful it be, a government can ultimately only remain in power with the consent of the governed. The king of Tonga is quickly losing that consent. His subjects are rioting in the streets for 70% pay raises. Why? That's where the pirates and the sunken treasure come in:
Civil servants in Tonga are entering the fifth week of a strike for better pay.

They want a better deal - a share of the wealth their royal family enjoys.

But what if the king's wealth were far greater than the average Tongan suspects? What if his majesty's fortune extended to bank accounts containing hundreds of millions of dollars and the source was a pirate ship?

According to official documents belonging to the king and obtained by TVNZ's Sunday programme, which have been secret until now, there may be truth to those stories.The documents say the king of Tonga searched for gold bullion in the seas off the islands of Ha'apai.

Some say he found the treasure and seized the gold for himself.

British archives from 1806 show the crew of a pirate ship called the Port au Prince set out to hunt whales and plunder Spanish shipping in the South Pacific and The Americas.

It anchored for the last time half a mile off the beach at Faka'amumei on Ha'apai.

The locals say their ancestors attacked the Port au Prince, burned her to the water line and looted the ship.

The wreck has vanished. The contents of the hold are gone, but the story of the gold is alive and well and causing trouble in the kingdom of Tonga.
The whole article can be found in this TVNZ story; link spotted on the forums via a post by Jeff Dudas.


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