On July 4th, Tonga celebrates their King’s Birthday and he was in Vava’u for it.

Street decorations to honour King Tupou VI

The entrance to the King’s Vavau residence. Maybe the king is inside that van!

Every home in town was decorated with flags or ribbons to honour his majesty’s visit and birthday. The laundry was an added touch on this day!

Painting the rusty fences around a school to tart up the town.

It was breezy when I took these shots. I came away with silver paint splattered all over my camera and bag but it came off with a bit of effort. Don’t get downwind of painters!

Around the same time, a week-long Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga Conference was being held in Vava’u.  Many brightly dressed church-going Tongans from the various island groups flocked to attend.  The inter-island ferries were frequently sold out and the hairdressers were fully booked!

Electric blue is the Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga’s colour and every church had its own customized outfits.

Many wore woven mats over top their dresses.

The conference was packed with people listening to speakers for hours, trying also to stay in the shade.

Wearing black is common for those in mourning.

Everyone in town seemed to be dressed up, except the yachties!

Free feasts were held twice daily, so lots of food had to be supplied to feed the many XXL-sized Tonga attendees. The produce and fish markets had very little to offer as everything was snapped up as soon as it arrived.  We had a hard time provisioning while the conference was in town.  Even eggs were in short supply.  The conference area had long tables jammed with baskets filled with soft-drinks and junk food but, no doubt, there was a lot more on the menu than I could see. Some were lucky enough to enjoy roasted pork!

Pigs on the spit for the feasts.  Some of the roasting pigs were very small but I don’t think Vavau would ever run out of pigs!  They run free everywhere. Amazingly, there is no question about who owns which pig.

The day before his birthday, when a military tattoo and other festivities were planned, we sailed south to the Ha’apais. It was more important to us to take advantage of a good weather window for the passage and the Ha’apais were calling!