Atenisi – a Tongan university

I did a ten week language course with Lose at Atenisi which is a unique learning place here in Tonga. Lose’s uncle had an amazing vision in the 1960s but it students numbers have now dwindled and it has become quite rundown. However, there is renewed interest and fundraising has started to get it back on its feet. Lose is also making a film about her uncle.

ʻAtenisi Institute is located in the Kingdom of Tonga and means Athens, the capital of Greece. The institute, founded by Futa Helu (1934–2010), began as a continuing education program for civil servants, then initiated a high school in 1964 (now closed). In 1966 Helu registered ʻAtenisi’s high school with the government and at the end of that year leased a 6.5-hectare (16-acre) parcel in a western district of Nuku’alofa… below sea level and students often speak of the swampus instead of the campus. At the end of 1975 a small university joined the high school on the site, its first bachelor of arts degrees being awarded in 1980, followed a few years later by bachelor of science degrees. By the 1990s, some master of arts degrees – and even a doctorate degree – were awarded in collaboration with universities in Australia and New Zealand. (Wikipedia)

I love the Monet bridge and waterlilies. The classroom is where I had my language lessons… there would be an uproar in Australia with these facilities… but you know what Lose was such a great teacher the surrounding didn’t matter much and as long as the mozzie coil was wafting it smokey trail everyone was happy and learned just the same as if we were in an air- conditioned palace!


26 Okatopa Tokonaki
Up very early to a 6.00am alarm rather than the murmuring minister next door… as we played tennis with a couple of volunteers. Everybody is at the same very rusty level so not too embarrassing… It is my first game since my back operation and so far so good.
After a hearty breakfast I walked to the regular Saturday fair and Kotoni came and collected me on Bas. Very light pickings this week… ho hum as all good op shoppers know thems the breaks!!
Rei, another volunteer came over for a catch up and shared homemade roti and a beef curry with us in the evening.
27 Okatopa Sapate
The murmuring minister woke us at 5.30 with the usual loud script. We will be on speed dial later if the church is again too loud, and a second consecutive complaints is made to the police.
Happy birthday to Gold Coast Sally… and cousin Eva In Wollongong.


1 thought on “Atenisi – a Tongan university

  1. The uni looks great. Love the Monet bridge too. Hope u have come away from the course with some pleasing results. Roth xnc homemade curry sounds grande. We are on an expedition to eat out Our freezer. So being creative with random left overs. pot luck by any other name……. But I may add a poor cousin. Xx TT


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