The Tongan castaways were a group of six boys between 13 and 16 (Luke Veikoso, Fatai Latu, Sione Fataua, Tevita Siola’a, Kolo Fekitoa, and Mano Totau), who, in 1965, ran away from a school on the island of Tonga, stole a boat, and became shipwrecked on the deserted remote island of ʻAta.
The boys formed a strong bond and, despite deprivations and injuries, kept themselves fit and healthy for 15 months. They survived primarily through consumption of local birds, fish, wild taro, and chickens and bananas that had been raised and cultivated on the island 100 years prior. They captured rainwater using hollowed out logs, though it was sparse during the initial months of their survival. They drank blood from seabirds when they did not have enough water.
They were discovered in 1966 by Australian fisherman Peter Warner and returned with him to Tonga, where they were immediately imprisoned for the theft of the boat. The boys were released from prison after Warner compensated the owner of the stolen boat, and arranged for them to participate in a film for Australian media.
Peter Warner died this month at the age of 90. The story of the Tongan Castaways has often been described as a “real-life Lord of the Flies,” although in this case reality is a lot more hopeful than fiction. As Steve Sailer comments: “My guess is that teachers assign Golding’s book because a) it holds boys’ attention, and b) it gets across the message: without my guidance, you little stinkers would be doomed.”