Six Shipwrecked Teens Found Alive On Remote Pacific Island After 15 Months

Real life 'Lord Of The Flies'.

Six Shipwrecked Teens Found Alive On Remote Pacific Island After 15 Months

Image : Wiki Commons

We’ve covered some mind-boggling travel stories here at DMARGE — take the flight attendant who survived a 30,000-foot fall without a parachute or the plane that survived a close call with a USN submarine missle as prime examples — but this tale of endurance may just be about to trump them all.

A wholesome if daring adventure with the boys turned into a remarkable survival story when Sione ‘Ulufonua Fataua and his five friends from St. Andrew’s Anglican boarding school in Tonga, set out at the tender age of 18 to sail to New Zealand in search of ‘a better life.’ However, their dreams were quickly and violently left in tatters by a storm that set them adrift at sea with a damaged boat, no food, and no water…

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For eight days in 1965, the boys — aged between 13 and 18 — survived a merciless ocean with their fate very much nagining in the balance. However, their faith kept them strong: “We prayed, knowing only God could save us,” Sione recalled in an interview with PEOPLE. Lucky for them, their prayers were answered, somewhat, when they found themselves washed ashore on the remote, untouched island of ‘Ata. They may have been alive, but this also marked the beginning of a 15-month fight for their lives.

Contrary to the unashamedly bleak picture of human nature painted by William Golding’s novel Lord of the Flies, which had been released only a few years earlier, Sione and his gang made a pact to uphold the values instilled in them by their families back home. They established a ‘mini-civilization’ complete with a carefully curated system for growing food, maintaining a permanent fire, exercising, and even a programme for conflict resolution: “We all come from close and poor families where, whatever you get, you share”.

Image: Vice

Even more remarkable than the story itself — one of unparalleled cooperation and resilience — is the fact that their tale remained almost totally unknown until it caught the attention of Dutch historian Rutger Bregman, who featured it in his book Humankind. Bregman believes that the boys’ tale offers a more optimistic view of human nature than we often find ourselves adopting in an increasingly challenging and complex world.

Now 77 and a head pastor for the Church of Tonga in the USA, Sione is dedicated to serving God, a commitment that he claims is rooted in his gratitude for the divine intervention that saved him and his friends. He recently reunited with some of the survivors as well as Australian captain Peter Warner, who first discovered and rescued the boys, to discuss the movie rights to their story. Sione believes that the lessons he learnt on ‘Ata are more relevant than ever before:

“If people today had the mindset of the ‘6 Tongan Castaways’ — if we all help each other, not be greedy, care for each other — we can all survive what is happening in the world.”

Sione ‘Ulufonua Fataua

Does this help bolster your view of human nature? Or does it just make you want to pack your bags and fly to the first available off-the-grid island? Let us know…