Mata Utu (French pronunciation: [mata utu]; ʻUvean: Matāʻutu, [mataːʔutu]) is the capital city of Wallis and Futuna, an overseas collectivity of France. It is located on the island of Uvéa (ʻUvea), in the district of Hahake, of which it is also the capital. It is one of two ports in Wallis and Futuna, the other being at Leava on Futuna. Hihifo Airport, the main airport serving the island and city, is 5.6 kilometres (3.5 mi) to the northwest. Its population was 1,029 in 2018,[1] up from 815 in 1998.[2]

Mata Utu
Top: Mata Utu coastline; Middle: Uvea Royal Palace, Matâ'Utu Cathedral; Bottom: Mata Utu Harbor, Traditional house
Location of Mata-Utu
Location of Mata-Utu
Coordinates: 13°17′S 176°11′W / 13.283°S 176.183°W / -13.283; -176.183
CollectivityWallis and Futuna
Capital ofWallis and Futuna
 • Total1,029

The most prominent landmarks in the town are the Matâ'Utu Cathedral, the palace next to it and backdrop of the Mt. Lulu Fakahega where there is an old chapel.[3]

History edit

In medieval times, Tuʻi Tonga invaders waged war against the islanders and took control. They installed the first chiefs, and called them the Uveas, which became the ruling dynasty of the two islands; they are based at Mata-Utu to this day. During recent archaeological excavations of the area, fortifications built by the Tongans (circa the Middle Ages) were unearthed, at nearby Talierumu and Malama Tagata.

Catholic missionaries, who came to the island in 1837, ensured that the entire population of the islands was converted to Christianity, in a short period of five years. During this time, missionaries not only protected the islanders from the “highhandedness” of the Europeans, but also ensured that a number of churches were built; mainly at Mata-Utu, but also at Mu’a and Vaitupu islands.

In the 19th century, Mata-Utu was developed into a town from a small native village, by the French (who installed most of Wallis & Futuna's major facilities). Historically, pigs, poultry, yams, bananas, and coconut were available to arriving boats.[4] During World War II, the Free French sloop Chevreuil landed a detachment of French Marines at Mata-Utu. A small skirmish ensued, after which Vichy French dissidents were taken captive, and the island’s radio communications centre was overtaken.[5] Francis Fox Parry of the 1st Battalion of the 11th Marines also landed here.[5]

Geography edit

Mata-Utu is the largest urban centre on Wallis Island, which lies between Tahiti and Nouméa.[3] Uvea or Wallis island with Mata’Utu as its capital has an area of 60 km2 and is part of the larger Wallis archipelago. It is surrounded by coral reefs. Mata’Utu is the administrative headquarters and business capital of the Wallis islands.[6] It is located on the eastern coast, along the main coast road RT1. The north-south RT1 and RT3, coming from the west, intersect in the town centre.[7] Mata-Utu is one of two ports in Wallis and Futuna, the other being at Leava.[8] There are several small islets in the lagoon offshore beyond Mata-Utu Bay (Baie de Mata'utu), including Luaniva, Fugalei, Nukuhione, and Nukuhifala; the islets are a good place for ships to anchor as the shore at Mata-Utu Bay is not adequate for this purpose.[9][10] Mata Utu Bay lies about 3 miles (5 km) to the northeast of Mua Bay.[11]

Climate edit

Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Mean daily maximum °C (°F) 30.3
Daily mean °C (°F) 27.4
Mean daily minimum °C (°F) 24.4
Average precipitation mm (inches) 381.4
Average rainy days 20 19 19 16 16 14 14 14 14 19 17 19 201
Source: Weatherbase[12]

Cityscape edit

Downtown Mata-Utu is dominated by the Matâ'Utu Cathedral, a French national monument, which bears the royal insignia of Wallis, a Maltese cross between its towers.[13] The cathedral is also known as "Our Lady of Good Hope Cathedral", which overlooks the lagoon. Within its vicinity there are, as well as several restaurants, the Au Bon Marche and Oceania market, hotels and the post office, and the simple Palace of the King of Uvéa, which features two-storey verandas adjoining the church.[3][6]

There is also a platform known locally as Fale Fono on the opposite side of the wharf which was used by the chief of the local tribes to address people. The hill known as the Mt. Lulu Fakahega, which rises to a height of 145 m, forms the backdrop of the village. It has an old chapel at the top. This site is accessed by a short and narrow road and the view from the top of the hill is particularly scenic.[3]

Throne in Palace of the King of Uvéa,

The town contains the rugby stadium Stade Laione Rugby, Stade Lomipeau, Stade de Kafika in the western suburbs and Sia Hospital.[7][10] There are no street names in Mata-Utu.[13] Telephone facilities, banking facilities and other essential services are all available in the town.

Economy edit

The economy of the island is dependent on its chief produce of copra, cassava, yams, taro roots, and bananas. Livestock consists of 25,000 pigs and 7,000 goats. The unit of currency is the CFP franc. The balance of imports is not favorable to the islands as imports exceed exports.[2]

Services edit

The magistrate's court of Wallis and Futuna is located in Mata-Utu.[14] Radio Wallis et Futuna is broadcast from Mata-Utu.[15] A short distance out of town are the police station and shopping mall. There is also a branch of the Indosuez Bank in Mata-Utu, and a thermal power station.[2] The Uvéa Shop sells cassettes of the music of the Wallisian singer and composer Palisio Tuauli of the band Talamohe.[16] The town lacks a tourist information center.[13]

A cargo shipping service connects to Mata’Utu on Wallis and Leava on Futuna with Nouméa. As of 1995, there were eight cargo vessels with a total capacity of 146128 DWT.[2] The Hihifo Airport serves Mata’Utu and Wallis Island is 6 km (4 mi) northwest of the town.

Culture edit

Dancers from Wallis and Futuna performing the 'Plantation'

The cultural identity of the Wallis's islanders is Wallisian, an offshoot of Polynesian culture. The language spoken in the town and on the island is 'Uvean, a derivative of Western Polynesian with close affinity to Tongan. In Wallis island, Wallisians use 'Uvean as their everyday language, while French is the language of the administration.

Assumption Day is celebrated in Mata-Utu on August 15.[17]

Near Mata-Utu are two important archaeological sites, Talietumu[18] and Tonga Toto.[19]

Uvea Museum Association, in the shopping centre, is a military history museum that records the Second World War history of the territory.[20]

References edit

  1. ^ a b "Census2018". Statistics Wallis and Futuna. Retrieved 2020-03-21.
  2. ^ a b c d Ademuni Odeke; Dr. Ademuni-Odeke (1998). Bareboat and Charter (Ship) Registration. Martinus Nijhoff Publishers. pp. 517–. ISBN 978-90-411-0513-4. Retrieved 6 May 2013.
  3. ^ a b c d David Stanley (2004). Moon Handbooks South Pacific. David Stanley. pp. 567–. ISBN 978-1-56691-411-6. Retrieved 6 May 2013.
  4. ^ United States. Hydrographic Office (1916). Publications (Public domain ed.). Government Printing Office. pp. 395–. Retrieved 5 May 2013.
  5. ^ a b Rill, James C. (23 September 2008). History of the 1st Battalion, 11th Marines. p. 41. ISBN 978-1-4357-5810-0.
  6. ^ a b South Pacific 4. Lonely Planet. 2009. pp. 616–. ISBN 978-1-74104-786-8. Retrieved 6 May 2013.
  7. ^ a b Google (5 May 2013). "Mata Utu" (Map). Google Maps. Google. Retrieved 5 May 2013.
  8. ^ Page, Kogan (1 October 2003). Asia and Pacific Review 2003/4: The Economic and Business Report. Kogan Page Publishers. p. 271. ISBN 978-0-7494-4063-3.
  9. ^ Cornell, Jimmy (13 July 2010). World Cruising Destinations: An Inspirational Guide to All Sailing Destinations. A&C Black. p. 349. ISBN 978-1-4081-1401-8.
  10. ^ a b Sailing directions for the Pacific Islands, volume III: the south-central groups. United States Defense Mapping Agency, Hydrographic Center. 1976. p. 173.
  11. ^ United States. Hydrographic Office (1940). Publications. p. 358.
  12. ^ "Mata-Utu, Wallis and Futuna". Weatherbase.
  13. ^ a b c South Pacific (4 ed.). Lonely Planet. 2009. pp. 616–. ISBN 978-1-74104-786-8.
  14. ^ Central Intelligence Agency (2010). The World Factbook 2010 (Cia's 2009 ed.). Potomac Books, Inc. p. 689. ISBN 978-1-59797-541-4.
  15. ^ Taylor & Francis Group (2003). The Europa World Year Book 2003. Taylor & Francis Group. pp. 1723–. ISBN 9781857432275. Retrieved 5 May 2013.
  16. ^ Stanley, David (1999). South Pacific handbook. David Stanley. p. 525. ISBN 978-1-56691-172-6.
  17. ^ Olton, Tina (19 February 2007). Always Another Horizon: A Journey Around the World. iUniverse. p. 61. ISBN 978-0-595-86325-9.
  18. ^ "Talietumu". Alluring World. 16 February 2016. Retrieved 16 April 2022.
  19. ^ "Wallis & Futuna Islands". Triton Cape. Retrieved 16 April 2022.
  20. ^ Mayer, Raymond; Nau, Malino; Pambrun, Eric; Laurent, Christophe (2006). "Chanter la guerre à Wallis ('Uvea)". Journal de la Société des Océanistes (in French) (122–123): 153–171. doi:10.4000/jso.614.

External links edit

13°17′S 176°11′W / 13.283°S 176.183°W / -13.283; -176.183