Emancipation Day in Tonga in 2024

Emancipation Day in Tonga in 2024
  How long until Emancipation Day?
Emancipation Day
  Dates of Emancipation Day in Tonga
2025 Tonga Mon, Jun 2 National Holiday (in lieu)
2024 Tonga Mon, Jun 3 National Holiday
2023 Tonga Mon, Jun 5 National Holiday
2022 Tonga Mon, Jun 6 National Holiday
2021 Tonga Mon, Jun 7 National Holiday (in lieu)

On June 4th 1862, the system of serfdom was abolished by King George Tupou I as part of his 1862 Code of Laws

When is Tongan Emancipation Day?

Emancipation day is a public holiday in the Kingdom of Tonga, observed on June 4th. 

In accordance with the Public Holidays Act (Cap.51), if Emancipation Day falls on a Thursday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday, the public holiday shall be celebrated on the next following Monday; and if it falls on a Tuesday or Wednesday, the public holiday will be celebrated on the Monday before.

This holiday marks the abolition of slavery in Tonga in 1862. Emancipation Day represents a turning point in Tongan history as commoners were freed from the virtual ownership of chiefs

History of Tongan Emancipation Day

Tonga is a Polynesian kingdom located in the Pacific Ocean, 1,250 miles north of New Zealand. It is composed of over 170 South Pacific islands, of which only about 36 are inhabited.

In some countries, notably those in the Caribbean, Emancipation Day means the abolition of slavery by the European colonial powers in the early part of the 19th century. Emancipation in Tonga means the abolition of the system of serfdom which had been used by the local chiefs for centuries as a means of forced labour.

On June 4th 1862, Tonga's first Christian king, George Tupuo I declared the abolition of serfdom in the official emancipation edict as part of his 1862 Code of Laws:

"All chiefs and people are to all intents and purposes set at liberty from serfdom, and all vassalage, from the institution of this law; and it shall not be lawful for any chief or person, to seize, or take by force, or beg authoritatively, in Tonga fashion, anything from anyone."

Influenced by Christian missionaries, the abolition was a key milestone in the history of Tonga as it freed commoners from the virtual ownership of chiefs.

Another important event that took place on June 4th is also celebrated on this day.

Tonga became a British protected state under a Treaty of Friendship in May 1900, to fend off European settlers and rival Tongan chiefs who had tried to overthrow the king. This Treaty of Friendship and protected state status expired on June 4th 1970 under arrangements established prior to her death by the third monarch, Queen Sālote.

Emancipation Day is celebrated at the end of the annual three-day Ha'apai Festival, which promotes the beauty, cuisine, and culture of the Ha’apai Islands.

Translate this page