Introduction

These two little-known French-funded volcanic specks lie smack in the centre of the Polynesia/Melanesia region. Wallis and Futuna, which lie 230km away from each other, are linked through French governance but that’s where the connection ceases: Wallis has ancestral connections with Tonga, while Futuna traces its roots to Samoa. This is evident in the languages, which are quite different although mutually comprehensible, as well as the Samoan-like tapa designs of the Futunans and the Tongan-influenced designs found around Wallis. The two islands remain competitive with each other, but Wallis, being more populous (around 10,750 residents) and the centre of government, retains the upper hand.