“Origin of the Tukunga Kauta”- Tonga

This month’s Pacific Islands legend comes from Tonga. The story can be found in the book, Po Fananga, Folk Tales of Tonga by Tupou Posesi Fanua. Enjoy!

Origin of the Tukunga Kauta

Once upon a time there was a Tu’i Tonga (king) whose mind was not at peace, so he ordered that the beautiful soothing rhythm of the ula dance should be beaten for him to hear. This was done as he commanded, but the people became very tired of beating the drums. So they all decided that they would stand in a row, and that when one was tired, he would hand the drumstick to the next person, while he, himself rested.

In this village (called Niutoua) there was a traditional spirit who pitied the people; his name was Mofitaita’u (Rare fever of the year). He came and took his place behind the last man in the row. When the poor man in front of him became so tired that he could hardly hold the drumstick, Mofitaita’u took it from his hand and the man fell down and went to sleep. 

Origin of the Tukunga Kauta(Tonga)

“Origin of the Tukunga Kauta,” illustration courtesy of Tara Bonvillain, copyright 2020.

Mofitaita’u continued the beating. When he knew everyone was fast asleep, he ran away with the drumstick.

When the people awakened, they chased him, but by this time he had reached the shore. He thrust the drumstick into a rock and disappeared, and today that place is known as Tukunga Kauta (Place of the drumstick).

This was the last time Mofitaita’u was seen and also of the drumstick. The people were no longer made to beat the rhythm of the ula, so they were happy once more.

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