The Ene'io botanical gardens and the Transit of Venus

Phil May and Andrea Twigg
Thu 7 Jun 2012 20:29
The Ene'io botanical gardens in Tonga were not originally intended as a commercial enterprise.  They are the creation of  Haniteli Fa’anunu, a man with a passion for gardening.  His family now runs the gardens as a small enterprise, selling products from the plants (Noni juice, Vanilla essence, Kava powder) and running a restaurant for the visitors. 
We had lunch at the restaurant, a feast of traditional Tongan dishes.  They were very happy to have just been connected to the electricity grid, so they no longer need to use a generator and paraffin lamps in the restaurant.
Haniteli talking about his plants and trees
We had demonstrations of various craft skills, including this amazingly dexterous basket weaving.  It took about two minutes for this lady to turn a single palm leaf into a basket.
The local kids gave us a demonstration of Tonga dance.  Some of the girls movements were quite different from what we have seen on other Polynesian islands, focusing on head and hand movements rather than hips and feet. 
While we were at the gardens we used a sextant to observe the transit of Venus across the face of the sun.  (But I am afraid you can't see the tiny black spec in this photo.)
The transit is an astronomical event that happens only once a century.  Captain Cook was sent to the South Seas to observe it two centuries ago.