Since Tasmanian and New Zealand slavers stole its people in 1863, 'Ata has had no permanent inhabitants. A few sailors have been wrecked on 'Ata, and and the occasional archaeologist or ornithologist has come to examine its ancient ruins or count its storm petrels, but the island's wild surf and high, almost impassable cliffs have made their visits dangerous.
Visesio Siasau is not only one of Tonga's most famous artists but one of the small club of people to have landed on 'Ata.
In the 1990s, before he began his career as a sculptor and painter, Sio was a member of the Tongan navy, and during one patrol of the southern borders of his country he was ordered to leave the safety of his gunboat and land a small craft on 'Ata's tiny, boulder-strewn beach.
Sio recently returned to Nu'u Sila from a six month residency in New York, and I'm honoured that he will be sharing a few memories of his a'ahi to 'Ata tonight at the launch of my book The Stolen Island.
I'll be complementing Sio's talanoa by showing a set of photographs that the Spanish adventurer Alvaro Cerezo sent me after his nearly disastrous visit to 'Ata last year.
[Posted by Scott Hamilton]