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Today's quote:

Thursday, February 3, 2022

Ma’u ha ‘aho fiefie, Matt!




VILLA MAMANA is situated on deserted Telekivava'u Island in the South Seas last kingdom, the Kingdom of Tonga, 37 nautical miles south of Pangai with its regional airport. This almost untouched part of Polynesia offers all the lonely island cliché could suggest: crystal clear waters, rich marine life, lush tropical vegetation, an authentic culture, and absolute peace of mind. The Villa (built in 1999) is right at the white beach and the shallow lagoon which surrounds the island. 3000 sq/ft of villa hold 2-1/2 bedrooms with ensuite marble bathrooms, the great room, two huge decks (which become part of the great room with the french doors opened), and a porch. All facing west to ensure beautiful sunsets over the warm South Pacific Ocean. High ceilings, wooden floors, teak furniture, and the light reflecting from the lagoon give the colonial style building its special charm. Amenities include: TV, VCD, stereo, satellite phone, fans, washer, Workshop, fishing gear, etc. Further down the beach you will find the kitchen house of 700 sq/ft (fully equipped) with a studio, and a smaller house (500sq/ft) which is ideal as caretaker quarter. Included in sale are also a 40ft motor yacht, a 27ft gamefishing power boat, a runabout, and utilities like two diesel gensets, two inverters, two battery banks, solar panels, desalination system, water-tank and much more. For photos, click here.


My involvement with VILLA MAMANA on Telekivava'u goes back to 2006 when I met the Austrian Horst Berger who had made Tonga his home in 1995 and briefly 'house-sat' VILLA MAMANA for the original owner Joe Altenhein.

Villa Mamana on the remote tropical island of Telekivava'u in the Kingdom of Tonga has been a most exquisite daydream for all involved: the original creator Joe Altenhein, the odd island-sitter, and its subsequent owner, Matt Muirhead, who tried to run it as what the Lonely Planet Travel Guide once described as "the most exclusive and beautiful accommodation in Tonga", but in 2015 sent me this email:


Aloha Peter,

Well old chap we have come to the end of the line with Villa Mamana. We tried for years to make a go on a very limited budget. We made some progress when there, but suffered when not there.

This past year our houses and property were ransacked. Locals stole everything they could fit in boats. We don't know who it was but have our suspicions. The loss is too much to overcome. The jungle and culture wins.

We are trying to dispose of what is left and will turn the page. Tonga is impossible to do business in. The culture sad to say is not trustworthy and without a trusted local no one can operate.

Someday we will visit Australia and hope to see you on the porch. Or if your travels take you to Hawaii or Santa Cruz let us know.

Thank you for your faithful friendship and support.

Aloha nui loa a ka Ko and Malo e lele.

Matt Muirhead


Villa Mamana is no more but as Joe Altenhein, the original owner and creator of VILLA MAMANA, wrote a very long time ago: "We all had the best time of our lives on the island, and will always miss it - unless we find another island and build a 'Villa Mamana Lite' just for us."

To which Matt Muirhead added: "Dear Peter, thank you for tying a ribbon around what Telekivava’u was. Seeing the pictures brought back a flood of wonderful memories. The white powdery sands that would move around the island with the full moon cycles. The feelings that isolation brought and surfing world-class waves right out the front door. When I retire from full-time work I will write a few words that might give a glimpse to those who long for a far-away paradise."

It's Matt's birthday today. I think I have a sunset drink on Riverbend's jetty and raise a toast to him and his heartbreakingly beautiful dream.

Ma’u ha ‘aho fiefie, Matt!


Googlemap Riverbend


P.S. When will you write your story, Matt? Tom Neale did! - click here.

P.P.S. Want to read more about VILLA MAMANA ? Click here.