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.