Collection PHOTO 126 - John Baker slides of Tonga

'Aerial view of the western leg of Tongatapu, Tonga' 'Aerial view northwestwards over Houma ? and western leg of Tongatapu, Tonga' 'Aerial view of road, farming and villages at eastern end of Tongatapu, Tonga' 'Aerial view of farmed land on Tongatapu with Liahona on right side of photo, Tonga' 'Aerial View of Liahona complex of Church of Latter Days Saints, Tonga' 'Aerial view of farmed land on Tongatapu between Liahona and Atele, Tonga' 'Aerial view over Ha'ateiho village to Nuku'alofa, with lagoon on right, Tonga' 'Aerial view of farming land looking north to lagoon, Tonga' 'Aerial view of farming land looking northeast to lagoon and towards north east corner of Tongata... 'Liz Baker on exposed sands with Nukunuku Island behind, Tonga'
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John Baker slides of Tonga


  • September 1968 - April 1970 (Creation)

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Extent and medium

270 digitised 35mm slides

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Name of creator


Biographical history

John Baker worked as a volunteer under the auspices of the British Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) organisation in 1964-1965. He was 18 and 19 at the time and was what was known as a ‘school leaver’ volunteer. John was attached mainly to two District Administrations to work on various local projects. August-November 1964, Baker worked as a teacher at the Geological Department’s survey school in Honiara. Then he transferred to Western District headquarters in Gizo and worked during December 1964 and January 1965 as a surveyor on the Wagina Island Gilbertese resettlement scheme. In February 1965 he transferred to Eastern District headquarters in Kira Kira where he spent six weeks working on local election preparations. He then moved back to Gizo and spent April to August 1965 travelling round, organising the construction of concrete drinking water tanks in various villages in the Roviana and Wana Wana lagoons and subsequently on the island of Ranonnga.

John Baker’s work in Solomon Islands prompted a long-term interest in the Pacific Islands and saw him work as Government Economist in Tonga in 1969-70. He later lived in Fiji and Tonga in 1971, while he undertook research for an ANU PhD on inter-island shipping services in the two countries. In 1976-77, while working in the Australian Government’s aid organisation, he was head of the Pacific Islands Section. Finally, after three years as an Australian Ambassador in Africa John Baker returned to working on the Pacific Islands when in 1991-97 he was Coordinator of the World Bank’s South Pacific Development Management Program. The program ran one-week residential management programs for senior government officials from across the region, with a number of participants later becoming heads of government in their countries.

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Scope and content

This collection of 270 slides was taken by John Baker while he was seconded from the British Ministry of Overseas Development to the Government of the Kingdom of Tonga to work as Government Economist on the preparation of the country’s second development plan for 1970-75. John and his wife Liz (Elizabeth) lived in Nuku’alofa from September 1968 to May 1969 and travelled extensively around the main island of Tongatapu, as well as making a visit to the island of ‘Eua. The slides include various landscapes, agriculture, construction, King Taaufa'ahau Tupou IV and the exteriors of the Royal Palace, a visit by Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Phillip Duke of Edinburgh and Princess Anne of Great Britain and the Royal Yacht Britannia. There are also street scenes with signage for businesses such as Burns Philp, exteriors of the Dateline Hotel and people watching the Apollo 13 splashdown. Selection of slides for digitisation was made by John Baker.

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As arranged by John Baker

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Available for reference

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See individual items

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Person: John R. Baker
Country: Australia

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Access this title at PMB Member Libraries or by purchasing it directly from the Bureau:

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Photo captions written by John Baker at the time the photos were taken.


See also PMB PHOTO 114 and PMB PHOTO 127.

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