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New Biography Of Queen Salote Of Tonga

Some public figures have a charisma that makes them stand out above others. Queen Salote Tupou III of Tonga was one such person. She had considerable mana not just in Tonga but also in the wider Pacific and even further afield.

A new biography of Salote has just been published, which gives fresh insights into the life of this remarkable leader. Salote, Queen of Paradise by Margaret Hixon, paints a portrait of Salote, from her childhood in the Palace at Nuku'alofa, through her education in Auckland, and all the years of her reign as Queen of Tonga until her death in 1965. Salote was just eighteen years old when she ascended the throne of Tonga in 1918. An outstanding figure of her time, she was dubbed 'Queen of Paradise' by the British press during her visit to London for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.

Margaret Hixon records how Salote, along with her husband Tungi until his death in 1942, worked hard to establish Tonga as a debt-free nation, taking advantage of modern developments. At the same time, Salote encouraged the continuation of traditional arts, culture and values. The glimpses of Tonga's relations with other countries is always interesting, particularly during the Second World War, when Tonga raised funds to purchase three spitfires for Britain and was occupied by American forces.

Queen Salote was a frequent visitor to New Zealand. There are two chapters on Salote's years in Auckland, where she lived with the Kronfeld family and attended the Diocesan High School for Girls. The Tongan government eventually bought an estate in Auckland as a base for Salote during her sojourns in New Zealand, and it also included a hostel for Tongan students.

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The Tongan royal family approved Margaret Hixon's work on this biography, and granted her interviews. In the course of her research, she interviewed more than sixty people who knew Salote. Although some people preferred not to discuss the Queen, so venerated was her memory, by the time of Hixon's research more people were willing to talk - over twenty years after Salote's death. The author also draws on diaries, newspaper accounts and numerous other sources.

All in all, Salote, Queen of Paradise is a highly readable celebration of a life, and will appeal to a wide audience. Published by the University of Otago Press, it contains numerous photographs, poems and songs written by Salote, genealogies, maps, a glossary of Tongan words, and a comprehensive index.

About the Author Margaret Stroud Hixon received an BA in English with honours from the University of Wisconsin, and later an MAT in Language, Literature and Writing from Reed College, Portland, Oregon. After studying film in Beverly Hills, London, and at the Anthropology Film Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico, she combined a teaching career with documentary film-making, in which she pursued a long-time interest in ethnography and folk art. Margaret Hixon came to New Zealand in 1986 to join family, and now lives in Nelson. She first visited Tonga in 1987 and began researching her biography of Salote soon after.

TITLE Salote
SUBTITLE Queen of Paradise
AUTHOR Margaret Hixon
FORMAT paperback, 240 pages, illustrated
ISBN 1 877133 78 7
PRICE $49.95

CONTACT For more information, or to arrange an interview, contact Philippa Jamieson, University of Otago Press, tel. (03) 479 9094, fax (03) 479 8385, email:

OR contact the author directly: Margaret Hixon is in the United States until January 2001 but is can be contacted by email at to arrange telephone interviews. NB: She will not be contactable between 20 September - 12 October 2000.

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