Last year saw the inaugural launch of the New Zealand Tongan Language Week – Uike Kātoanga’i o e Lea Faka Tonga which was held at the Lotofale’ia Tongan Methodist Church in Mangere, South Auckland, New Zealand. I was fortunate to be invited by Malia Talakai, Dr Melenaite Taumoefolau and the Tongan Language Week committee to participate in this event as one of the speakers along with John Nicholas Pulu, Palesiteni ‘Ilomaisini, Pātele Line, Faifekau Lōpini Filise, Palesiteni LDS Sione Tuione, Faifekau Tāufa Pulu, Faifekau Tīmote Moala Hafoka, Faifekau Siale Sa‘ili and Faifekau Tavake Tupou. The inaugural launch was chaired by Faifekau Setaita Veikune and special guest Honourable Lupepau’u Tuita had attended. This event attracted hundreds of people from the Tongan community and I was proud to represent my family, my church Onehunga Tongan Methodist and my Tongan community as a whole at the event.
The day after the 2011 inaugural launch of Tongan Language Week, I flew to Singapore for an educational research conference where I had to present so I did not get a chance to observe the celebrations for Tongan Language Week that occurred for 2011. However for 2012, it has been wonderful to see and read about the different celebrations of Tongan Language Week across the nation. Still in its celebration, the 2012 Tongan Language Week’s theme is Fakakoloa ‘o ‘Aotearoa – Enriching Aotearoa with Kakai Tonga’s Language and Culture.
The goals of the week are to:
- celebrate the Tongan language and culture in New Zealand
- promote the teaching and learning of the Tongan language
- raise awareness of the Tongan language as a language spoken by a significant number of people in New Zealand
- promote initiatives to maintain and grow the recognition, learning and use of the Tongan language in the home, in education, at work, in government, in the media, in sport, in the arts, in the church and in the community.
On Saturday 1st September 2012, Dr Linita Manu’atu led the official opening of Tongan Language Week live on Radio 531pi which was celebrated with prayer, song and discussions held in the Tongan langauge. Tongan people from all over the globe were able to celebrate the official opening of Tongan Language Week by streaming online and listening to it live. The media and in particular social media has been instrumental in providing up to date accounts of events and celebrations that radio stations, businesses and non-profit organisations, schools and tertiary education providers, churches and people in general have engaged in to celebrate Tongan Language Week. For example, Tongan Language Week’s facebook page demonstrates the wonderful support and celebrations across the nation which is heart-warming to see. It has been fantastic to also see people who are non-Tongans celebrate Tongan Language Week.
Yesterday, I was honoured to have been invited by Radio 531pi host Yolande Ah Chong to perform a spoken word poetry piece on air in celebration of Tongan Language Week. The piece that I had shared is entitled “My Grandmother’s Vision” which was written in honour of my late Grandmother ‘Ana Fokikovi Misinale. The piece talks about my journey as a New Zealand born Tongan and it shares my sentiments on being proud of my Tongan language, heritage and culture. It was a great opportunity for me to share a spoken word piece that is close to my heart with the listeners of Radio 531pi who are either Tongan and/or non-Tongan. I am grateful to Yolande Ah Chong (who is a fabulous Samoan woman) for having me on her breakfast radio show.
With the 2012 Tongan Language Week coming to a close this Saturday 8th August, I would like to share a book that was gifted to me last year by Dr Melenaite Taumoefolau and the Tongan Langauge Week committee for speaking at the 2011 inaugural launch of the Tongan Language Week. The book is entitled Melenga-mei-Ono’aho and the author is Dr Melenaite Taumoefolau’s Mother, Author and Poet ‘Ilaisaane Kakala Taumoefolau. The title Melenga-mei-Ono’aho was taken from the Tongan language radio programme that ‘Ilaisaane Kakala Taumoefolau had hosted on Niu FM and Radio 531pi from the period of 2003-2008. Her programme was in part to encourage the youth in New Zealand to maintain the Tongan langauge and celebrate the Tongan stories of our Tongan past. My rough English translation of the title of the book is Remnants of the Past. Author and Poet ‘Ilaisaane Kakala Taumoefolau is featured on the book cover as shown in the photo below.
Published in 2011 by Saane Saafi, SNAP Contracting Studios, Hampton, VA and with 213 pages, this book in its entirety was written in the Tongan language. The foreword of this book was written by Hūfanga Toketā (Dr) ‘Ōkusitino Māhina. I have taken an extract (see below) from Dr ‘Ōkusitino Māhina’s foreword which demonstrates how he holds ‘Ilaisaane Kakala Taumoefolau in high regard. He describes her as a woman of many talents who is skillful in the way that she articulates Tongan language in the forms of speech and written word and how she has a creative niche in the Tongan arts and crafts. This book, Melenga-mei-Ono’aho, is a testament to her love and passion that she has for the Tongan language and culture.
“Kuo fuoloa ta’u ‘eku feohi mo Kakala o mahino lelei kiate au ‘a e mohutafea mo fonumahua ‘ene ngaahi taukei fuomelie mo uhomelia, ‘o hangē ko e maokupu mo e loloto ‘ene ‘ilo mo e poto fekau’aki mo e ngaahi tufunga, faiva mo e nimamea’a kae ‘uma’ā ‘a e lea, talafakafonua mo e talatukufakholo, pea tukukehe ange ‘a e fālahi mo e mā’olunga ‘o e fuo mo e uho ‘o e ngaahi kaveinga ‘o e tohi. Na’e makatu’unga he’ene taukei, ‘ilo mo e poto ‘a e lahi hono manakoa ‘ene polokalama ko e tupu mei he “ifo” mo “vovo” ‘ene fili mo e pu’aki lea pea mo e fasi mo e tō hono le’o, ‘o mo’oni ai ‘a e lau ko e, “kai pē lea”. ‘E lava pē ke tau pehē ko Kakala ko e fefine ‘o māmani kātoa he ‘oku ‘ikai ke ‘”hama ha me’a” mo “ala i sia pea ala i kolonga”, ‘o hangē ko e tufunga lea, tufunga lea heliaki, tufunga teuteu mo e tufunga fa’utohi; faiva lea, faiva lea heliaki, faiva teuteu, faiva talatupu’a, faiva fananga, faiva talanoa, faiva ta’anga, faiva hiva mo e faiva haka; mo e nimamea’a lālanga, nimameas’a koka’anga, nimamea’a tuikakala, nimamea’a tuimatala’i ‘akau mo e nimamea’a langaleisi.” – Dr ‘Ōkusitino Māhina
‘Ilaisaane Kakala Taumoefolau delicately illustrates her wealth of knowledge through Tongan narratives in Melenga-mei-Ono’aho. The Tongan stories, myths, explanations of Tongan proverbs and more in Melenga-mei-Ono’aho add value to my understanding and knowledge of my Tongan heritage, Tongan language and Tongan culture. Through this book, I am encouraged and I will continue to be a learner of the Tongan language, culture and its histories. I consider this gift, Melenga-mei-Ono’aho, as a treasure that I will always cherish. It holds a special significance for me and it will always act as a reminder of New Zealand’s celebration of Tongan Language Week. It’s even special that I have a signed copy by the Author and Poet, ‘Ilaisaane Kakala Taumoepeau. What an amazing Tongan woman!
Here is a poem that was written by ‘Ilaisaane Kakala Taumoepeau which is printed on the inside cover of Melenga-mei-Ono’aho. The poem talks about the remnants of the past linked to the contents of Melenga-mei-Ono’aho.
Kohai au ke u fakahoa
Kael au pē ko e koloa
Ala fai’aki si’a talanoa
Tufi ni ne fai mei fuoloa
‘O ‘ikai kovi ke faka’aonga
‘A e faka’amu ni kei tu’uloa
Telia na’a tu’u ko e vakaloa
Pe taufa ‘oku fakafaleloa
Kae taumaiā ke kūmoa
Ko e ‘inasi e kaha’u ‘o Tonga.
Ko e faka’amu ni mo e holi
Na’a lave ai ‘a e langatoli
He ‘oku ‘i ai ‘a e fie tokoni
Kuo tupu pē he loto ongo’i
Ke faka’ali e ngaahi mo’oni
Na’e fakaili mo’o onopooni
‘E ‘a’au ia ‘a hono potongi
Mo filihi ‘o taufetongi
Peheange mai ho ha lesoni
Kuo lava atu e talaloto ni.
In closing, I would like to address my Tongan community in the Tongan language:
‘Oku ou ‘oatu ‘ae talamonū ki he kāinga Tonga hono kotoa pe ‘i ‘Aotearoa ni koe’uhi koe uike mahu’inga ko ‘eni kuo fokotu’u ke fakamamafa’i ai ‘ae le faka-Tonga. ‘Oku ou fakatauange ke hokohoko pehē atu pe ‘i he lolotonga ni pea mo e kaha’u na.
Tu’a ‘ofa atu,
For more of my blog posts related to Tongan Authors and/or Poets please click on the names below:
Furthermore, check out my blog posts on two young Tongan school students striving in the field of sports: