Although Tupoutoʻa could claim through both his father and his mother descency from the Tuʻi Kanokupolu line, in reality he was a minor chief. His father Tukuʻaho had been extremily harsh person, generally hated, an usurper who had managed to get the Tuʻi Kanokupolu title, but was murdered by a triumvirate under Tupouniua, his halfbrother Fīnau ʻUlukālala II ʻi Feletoa (Fangupō) and his half-halfbrother, Tupoutoʻa himself.
With Tongatapu in a civil war after the murder, Tupoutoʻa initially sought to become an ally of Fīnau Fangupō. This put him Haʻapai in the lap, when Fīnau after the war against Vavaʻu of 1808, thought the latter place a better residence for him than his current estates of Haʻapai. So Tupoutoʻa became a governor, but after the death of Fīnau in 1809 the high chief of the archipelago.
Meanwhile he did not stop his ambitions for Tongatapu, and finally in 1813 the mightiest chief of Tongatapu, Takai agreed that he would become the Tuʻi Kanokupolu. But it had become a hollow title by then, and when Tupoutoʻa died in 1820 no one even noticed. FOKI