Copied to the Honorable Prime Minister, the Honorable Deputy Prime Minister, The Honorable Lord Vaea and the Minister of Commerce, Tourism and Labor.
Friday 16th Nov. 2012
To: His Royal Highness Crown Prince Tupouto’a Ulukalala
Your Royal Highness
We refer to the recent raising and removal of a centuries’ old ships anchor, from Ha’apai, on Tuesday the 14th Nov. 2012. This priceless piece of Tongan heritage, which could even be considered as a “National Treasure”, is believed to have originally come from the historic wreck of the “Port Au Prince”, so well known through out the world because of the “William Mariner” story. It was apparently delivered to and received in Nuku Alofa on Wed.15th Nov. 2012. Following our meeting late last month I know you have a keen interest in these issues.
We humbly wish to express our deep shock and profound sadness, at the way this operation appears to have been carried out, with no apparent regard to international standards of Archeological responsibility and with no underwater survey/mapping or photographic panorama of the surrounding area. This information is now lost forever. The anchor was first discovered in 2009.
There appears to be no evidence, suggesting that world’s best practice in handling and conservation for this fragile and delicate treasure has been used so far, or is even being considered in the future. Unbelievably, the cultural sensitivities of the local people of Ha’apai, also appear to have not been considered.
We can only hope that the Government of Tonga is fully aware of all the activates surrounding this potentially damaging action and that Government Ministers at least now have some control over it and may consider mitigating some of its effects. We fear for the future of this Anchor. If the Government can take action ,we would humbly request and hope, that this anchor now be given the care, respect and critical consideration it surely deserves and which the international heritage community may look to Tonga to provide.
As you know, in the months ahead, our company Tonga Blue Ltd , following two years of preparation and with the committed support of a growing number of Tongans who care about lost Tongan Maritime History, Heritage and the Environment, will make an application to the Government of the day, (on behalf of the people of EUA and Nomuka), for permission to among other things, commence investigating, surveying and documenting known wrecks in their waters. If granted permits by Government, be assured that Tonga Blue Ltd. will operate to world’s best practice in archeological and conservation standards. We will always take into account cultural and environmental sensitivities. We will also operate in a transparent manner. We now seek to divorce ourselves from the company and people responsible for operating in this manner, in the recovery of the anchor from the “Port Au Prince”.
Tonga Blue Ltd. and it’s directors, could never support activities carried out in that way.
Don McIntyre & Mark Belvedere
Directors; Tonga Blue Ltd.