'Ene'io Botanical Garden

'Ene'io Botanical Garden
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‘Ene’io Botanical Garden covers more than forty acres and represents a lifetime labour of love on the part of Haniteli Fa’anunu, our knowledgeable guide, host and very interesting man. Haniteli gained his first parcel of land at the age of eight, in 1955, when the lands of Tonga were being distributed amongst the population of fathers and elder sons. Being too young, his father would hold the land until Haniteli was old enough, meanwhile, he asked that his land not be used for arable or livestock purposes but to allow a garden to evolve. His father did not approve, but over the years, through his formal education, studying for a degree in agriculture, seeds and cuttings were sent home. Haniteli worked for and ran the Department for Agriculture, knew the last king and his wife Queen Halaevalu Mata’Aho is a patron. He worked closely with the present kings brother, then the Prime Minister and has traveled extensively, met Pope John Paul II and many heads of State, especially those concerned with plant types and conservation. The Garden officially opened on Hanitelis birthday, the 22nd of August 2008, his father finally understood and tears ran down this elderly mans face, beaming with pride, he finally understood.
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The name has a really nice story: ‘Ene’io is derived from two Tongan words: “‘Ene” meaning “to tickle” and “’Io” meaning “Yes”, so the literal meaning of ‘Ene’io is: To Tickle until one says Yes. ‘Ene’io is the name of the well-known beach at Tu’anekivale village, situated on the eastern end of Vava’u. It is the name also of two freshwater holes located at lower end of the ‘Ene’io Botanical Garden.
Legend tells of a long drought in Vava’u, and district gods were searching for water all over Tonga, and even up north to Samoa. Our story begins with the beautiful goddess Fehuluni returning from Samoa in her search for water, and crossing through Tu’anekivale to get to her favourite ‘ovava tree residence at Leimatu’a (now the tree facing the entrance to Lupepau’u airport). However, the well-known eastern god keeper Tu’imatoto noticed the beautiful intruder and immediately intercepted her at this spot, and nicely but firmly grabbed her tightly and demanded: “Who are you to dare trespass my territory?” Fehuluni of course had found water in Samoa, and was bringing it home in her mouth. Her dilemma, she couldn’t speak, so she grunted and pointed to her mouth full of water. Tu’imatoto took advantage of the situation and demanded an answer, and all she could do was shake her head and point to her mouth. Tu’imatoto then said: “Well, lady, since you refuse to speak to me I will see to it that you talk”. Tu’imatoto then began to tickle Fehuluni. You can imagine the struggle, she to save the water, and he to make her laugh. Fehuluni was so ticklish that she finally burst out laughing and cried: ” ‘io, ‘io, tuku a” or “yes, yes, please stop!” Fehuluni thus lost her mouthful of water that became the two fresh waterholes, and was used in times of water shortage. That is how the name “’Ene’io” came to be known throughout Tonga.
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We followed Haniteli for a couple of hours as he pointed out many trees, plants and flowers – many grown from seed from all over the world - here are just some of them.
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Matthew, the youngest was soundo when we got back.
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When we arrived we had seen Lucy and the boys preparing our lunch of white snapper and sweet potato chips.
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It was lovely to sit, take in the view and watch the goings-on.
Haniteli, Lucy, the boys and the family.