The Tongan dollar, or pa’anga, is the national currency. Denominations include 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, and 50 seniti coins, as well as 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, and 50 pa’anga banknotes. Despite its status as a developing nation, Tonga’s costs are similar to or somewhat higher than those of New Zealand or Australia. Apart from fish, lobsters, roots and tubers, fruits and vegetables, the majority of what you consume will have been imported. A nice dinner out will cost between 30 and 50 pa’anga, a drink in a restaurant or bar will cost between 5 and 6 pa’anga, renting a vehicle will cost between 50 and 60 pa’anga per day, and cigarettes will cost between 7-8 pa’anga for a pack of 25.
The majority of the paper mulberry tree is used to make tapa fabric. Tapa is prevalent across Polynesia, but Tonga is the only nation where it is still used on a regular basis. The bark is peeled off the tree trunk, and the outer bark is scraped off and thrown from the inner bark. Before being soaked, the inner bark is sun-dried. It is then pounded into 25cm strips using wooden mallets. The tapa mallet’s constant strokes are still a prevalent sound in Tongan communities. The thin strips are then hammered together to form a larger sheet, which is subsequently ornamented.