One of the few memories I have of Sunday school back in the Kingdom is the fehu’i mo e tali that kids learn at Siasi Tonga Tau’ataina. I loved hearing it because the answers were always said back in a tune chant like manner which made it easy for kids to learn off by heart. Here are some of the first basic questions that all the children learn at Sunday School about God. I often out of the blue ask these simple questions of my kids as a reminder of Gods presence and love for them. And always good to practise as much Tongan as possible with them. These are also great basic questions that you can use to build your vocabulary and ask other questions.
Chris Lilley’s comedic portrayal of rebellious troubled teenager Jonah from Tonga is dissappointing to say the least. His mockumentary series really portrays the Aussie Bogan culture. But that mantle piece has already been taken by Kath & Kim and he probably wouldn’t have a following if Jonah were an Aussie, so he finds a niche for his comedy by choosing Tonga and our culture.
Definition of Bogan (noun) derogatory Aussie slag. Refers to someone who is unsophisticated, uncivilised, lacks manners and culture, crude, no style, un-educated and regarded by society as being of low class.
While many may find it funny, this humour masks some serious issues perpetuating a negative view of Tongans and upon our youth.
The suggestion that Tongans are bad parents who breed terrible children blaming low imcome status for this vicious cycle is ridiculous.
The suggestion that our culture is ill-disciplined to have a ‘Jonah’ like student be so disruptive to the learning of others in class is ludicrous. I find this to be highly rascist and an over-exaggerration of reality of our Tongan youth in highschool.
The fact that this program is airing in primetime stations like the BBC in UK and HBO in the US gives me great concern for our youth. I for one am no such Bogan, nor is my family and my kids and Tongans in general. We have a beautiful, strong, vibrant culture of respect for each other reflected in our language and our national dress. Our nation has amongst the highest literacy rates in the world. While life and sanitary conditions in England was harsh in the late 1700s, Captain Cook found our islands civilised with order and houses and well maintained gardens and paths.
Ta’e fiemālie ‘aupito he mafola ‘a e polokalama’ni he ngalu’ea.
On the 15th of March, I as a student and a parent of two joined the Tongan Language School here in Sydney to welcom the daughter of King Tupou VI, Princess Angelika Lātūpfuipeka to our School. So what! What is all the fuss about you say? Well 3 Tongan words sum up the significance of this occasion and the lessons I would share with my children.
Faka’apa’apa = (Respect)
Fakalāngilangi (to honour)
‘Ilo (knowledge) or Taumu’a ke ‘ilo (Inspire to learn)
I want my kids to live a life of respect. We may not see the Princess every day but we can show respect to our parents, our siblings, our fahu, teachers and elders. Sitting on the mat was one way the children were showing their respect for the Princess.
I want my children to show respect and honor in order to receive it. The highest honor the Tongan Language School could give the Princess is the ‘ilokava (royal kava ceremony). And in honoring her, I was also honored to take part in the Royal kava circle. As a woman and a commoner to take part and to use my family matapule name was like having a title bestowed upon me and having my mother and all my ancestors sitting there with me.
To have the knowledge of why things are done like the kava ceremony and the origin of the fuakava (the first kava) connects me to my language, my family and my roots and seeing the ‘ilokava happen before my eyes was a surreal moment in my life.
Whether it be a royal visit or a family gathering or funeral, we can show respect, we can honor and we can learn at the same time. In this modern world, where respect is fading fast, the Tongan culture of respect and family makes more sense than the celebrity all-about-me culture. I want them to aspire more to the Tongan culture rather than the celebrity culture.
So your Tongan partner or father/ mother goes on and on about these old Tongan Love songs but you just don’t get it. Koloa pe e lava ‘a e Let’s Learn Tongan Love Song dedications ‘o tokoni atu. The first of many LLT Love song dedications to come. I hope you enjoy.
We learn best through songs and our first song has a wonderful story to it. Composed by the Late Queen Sālote for her future husband Tungī titled the Silver locket. I can imagine her writing this song, she is a young woman getting ready to marry at the age of 17, a year before her father Tupou II dies and she ascends the throne. She has her kingdom and people on her shoulders, she is young but in this composition shows her readiness for love and to dedicate the rest of her life for Tungī who is more experienced in life at nearly 30 years of age. Like the wind is free to do as it pleases (ie Tungī), she decides her heart will be like a silver locket, forever locked for him only.
Tau Amusia pe ‘a e matangi’na ‘Oku’ne angi fa’iteliha Kae hopoate pe kita He ‘ofa ‘oku loka siliva
I envy that wind
It moves freely as it pleases
Nevertheless, I surrender myself
to love that is the silver locket
One of my favourite hymns. It tells the story of a little island in the ocean which did not know God and was not blessed (so say the missionaries), but has many blessings now because Tupou I gave his nation to God.
‘Oku ai ha ki’i fonua
‘Oku tu’u ‘i ‘Oseni.
Na’e ‘ikai ke ma’u ‘Otua,
Na’e masiva he lelei.
Haleluia! Kuo monū’ia eni.
Tama Tonga, tu’u ‘o ngāue,
Ho koloa ke fakamonū.
Lotu ki he ‘Eiki ma’u pē,
Ke ne poupou ki he lotu
‘O malu’i ‘a Tupou
There is a small Island
that stands in the Ocean.
It did not have God,
They were poor in goodness.
Hallelujah! They are now blessed.
Tongan man, stand and work,
your treasure must be expressed.
Pray to the Lord always,
for his support in prayer
To protect Tupou.
‘I he ‘aho 15 ‘o Ma’asi ‘e me’a mai ‘a Pilinisesi Lātūfuipeka Halaevalu ki he’emau ako’anga Tongan Language School ‘i Senee’ni. Pea ‘oku mau teuteu kihe ‘aho mo ako’i ‘a e fo’i fasi ko e Fala Paongo ‘o Pilolevu
Feeling excited with the upcoming Royal visit on 15th March. Princess Lātūfuipeka Halaevalu will be gracing our Tongan Language School here in Sydney with her presence and we’re all excited. Will keep you guys posted how it goes, we are learning this song to sing for the Princess, titled Priness Pilolevu’ Fala Paongo (royal mat), hopefully we do it justice.
If you have primary school aged children you will know the tune of Mr Clickety Cane by Peter Coombe. I use that tune to sing this silly song that I made up. For Tongans we have the utmost respect for our elders and I would never say this to my grandma directly. This is simply a silly song which does not need to make sense and it is the best way for children to learn. Children love silly songs and itʻs a great way to engage them and besides how many people know of a grumpy grandma.
One year ago I created this blog as a resource for parents, educators and anyone wanting to learn this beautiful language of ours. My focus was on creating fun experiences for my 4 children, and in that time my children have blossomed. Never did I imagine that one year later I would be putting those personal experiences to the test at my very own Manulua Tongan playgroup.
This is a Tongan saying and is only fitting for my gratitude for this experience, and the wonderful people I have met along the way. “Koe koloa’ ‘a Tonga ko e fakamalo” – Our thanks is the only treasure we have to give in return.
Ko e me’a pe te u lava ke fakamalo ki he ‘Eiki mafimafi’. I only thing I can do is to give thanks to the Almighty Lord.
A great tip to learning Tongan is comparing bible passages in English & Tongan. Kids learn Tongan by reciting bible verses and hymns durnig Faka-Mē or White Sunday in May which is a great way to pick up vocabulary. Here is a visual of a well known bible passage Matthew 7:7-8. Simply compare the verse and recite by heart and you will add to your vocabulary. For more Tongan bible passages share and let me know you like them.