Nukuʻalofa is the capital of the Kingdom of Tonga. It is located on the north coast of the island of Tongatapu, in the southernmost island group of Tonga.
In the Tongan myth of the origin of Nukuʻalofa, it was said that the meaning of Nukuʻalofa is: nuku meaning abode, ʻalofa meaning love.
The name is said to have originated when Moʻungatonga, the 6th Tuʻi Haʻatakalaua (King who governs the daily business of Tonga on behalf of the Tuʻi Tonga or Sacred King of Tonga) sent his youngest son, Ngata (later to be 1st Tuʻi Kanokupolu) as governor to Hihifo (Western side of Tongatapu). It was a difficult decision for Ngata as the Tu’i Tonga and Tu’i Ha’atakalaua have been unable to control Hihifo. Ngata had many reasons to fear for his life as his predecessors had been killed by the chiefs and people of Hihifo.
When Ngata left Muʻa, the old capital and residence of the Tuʻi Tonga and Tuʻi Ha'atakalaua, he was escorted by Nuku (an uncle) and Niukapu (an older cousin), chiefly relatives of his father. They sailed their canoes with all their followers from Muʻa and debated abandoning Tonga and sailing directly to Samoa, the homeland of Ngata’s mother. It was decided not to abandon Tonga, but to pull their canoes up into the swamp area halfway between Muʻa and Hihifo in order to plan and prepare for their landing at Hihifo.
Ngata, Nuku and Niukapu decided to wrap their combined bodies under a large mat and land in Hihifo, giving the impression of a large man with three heads. This is the origin of the ʻUlutolu (Three Head Story) and of the Haʻa Tuʻi Kanokupolu, third lineage King of Tonga. They named the swampy area as Nuku (Abode) ʻAlofa (Love) or the Abode of Love, thus Nukuʻalofa.