New Fijian Book Celebrates Language and Culture

Last month Radio New Zealand posted an article about how the Fijian community in Wellington, New Zealand, gathered to launch a unique book celebrating their language and culture as part of Fijian Language Week this week.

The book, Voqa ni Veisemati: Vola Italanoa ni Viti e Aotearoa, contains a collection of stories and poems in both Fijian and English.

The chair of the Wellington Fijian language committee, and one of the co-editors Sai Lealea, said the book captures Fiji through the lens of each writer. “People wrote about experiences when they last visited Fiji, one family wrote about their first experience in being told that they were coming to NZ, and some of them wrote about myths and legends that was shared to them by their Grandparents, and about life in the village.”

Lealea said many of the community still have a strong connection to the homelands which is reflected in the books title Voqa ni Veisemati, in English, Echoes of Connection.

“The context of New Zealand and what we are going through in New Zealand provided them with a background to take a pause and think about where they are now, and where they have come from, and of course, stories they captured sort of made that connection and that’s reflected in the title.”

The book is the result of a series of creative writing workshops led by author and storyteller Moira Wairama and facilitated by Sai Lealea and Losalini Tuwere with support from the Ministry of Education and Read NZ Te Pou Muramura.

It’s part of Read NZ Te Pou Muramura’s Writers in Communities programme, which aims to nurture new readers and writers within a community and help share their stories widely.

The youngest member of the book is 5 year-old David Cecil Kua who wrote ‘Traffic in Fiji’ and he also included his own illustrations. His Mum, Jocelyn Kua, said David attends the Fiji language class, and this project was a good next step for him on his language journey. “Helping cement the love of the language, the understanding of the cultural ways especially a young Fijian boy who also carries other ethnicity’s groups, so this is a wonderful experience.”

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14 year-old Sakaraia Nasau was another writer, whose poem was about going to his village in Fiji to visit his Dad’s grave. “What it means to go there is, I learn more about traditional knowledge that has been passed down my family. So my role in the village is warrior, and it’s pretty important for me to know my history,” he said. Nasau said he felt extremely proud to be part of the project, and that people get to see how well Fijian young people can write.

Losalini Tuwere, who is also another co-editor, said all those who were invited really enjoyed being part of the project. “We were invited as families to come and participate so for example in my family, it’s like three generations my in-laws, I’m writing and our daughter is writing and we are all writing about different things.” She said this is the first time ever she has written in Fijian and to have it published in her own mother tongue.

Tuwere said it has been an absolute blessing to have been part of this project working together as a community to write our stories in both Fijian and English. She and a colleague also run a Fijian language class for children every Tuesday during school terms, she said class has been going for three years. “We actually started from our church cell group, which was about 10 children but now it has grown to about 40 children coming from Porirua, all the way to Haitaitai, Johnsonville, Churton Park and Newlands,” she said.

The younger members of the project were also given a copy of the book to gift to their local school.

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Traditional Housing Making a Comeback in Vanuatu

There was a very interesting article in The Guardian about how traditional dwellings are making a comeback in Vanuatu that I would like to share. Since Cyclone Pam devastated the island country people are returning to the saeklon haos, made from vines, palm fronds and grasses…

When Cyclone Pam devastated Vanuatu and concrete buildings collapsed, their iron roofing blown away, there was no loss of life in the traditionally built structures known as saeklon haos (cyclone house). Though they normally sleep six, during the 2015 storm up to 30 villagers were able to squeeze in together, physically supporting the house posts from the inside if needed.

Cyclone Pam was the most destructive cyclone the country has seen, displacing an estimated 65,000 people and damaging or destroying approximately 17,000 buildings.

Jean Pascal Wahe, head of the local cultural centre in Tafea province, recalls that after Pam, the saeklon haos in his village still stood, having kept him and other villagers safe, even as others were killed by iron roofing. “The saeklon haos is enough for us to stay in good times or bad.”

A saeklon haos is a one-room building, built as a place to sleep, and often forms part of a rural living compound that include a separate kitchen, smol haos (pit latrine), and bathing area. Increasingly, these traditional structures stand alongside buildings made with cement, corrugated metal sheet roofing, and other non-traditional materials.

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Traditional house construction on the island of Aneityum. Photograph: Gregory Plunkett

Stepping inside the house, called kwipehe in Nafe, one of Tanna’s seven languages, Wahe points overhead to a low ceiling of thatched coconut palm fronds and waelken (wild cane), a type of Miscanthus grass.

The side walls are built with bamboo strips flattened and woven into cross and diamond patterned panels. The house frame is comprised of posts, beams, and rafters that are buried in the ground for greater support. Each part of the house is fashioned from specific plants selected for their flexibility and durability. Instead of nails, the house is secured with cordage made of vines harvested in the forest.

Despite the advantages of saeklon haos which can be built by two or three people in about a week, they are all but unheard of in Vanuatu’s two cities, Port Vila and Luganville, where more modern Western style homes, fitted with indoor plumbing, electricity, and divided into rooms, are more common. But the buildings also absorb heat and can be stifling, even at night.

By contrast, the natural materials used in saeklon haos and other kastom buildings are effective at insulating against heat and winter chill, while walls that have been thatched, woven, or braided with plant material allowing for the passage of air.

In Vanuatu, where subsistence farming, fishing, and traditional lifestyles are dominant, perpetuating knowledge of the forest and plants within are essential to maintaining the ability to build kastom houses.

Dr Gregory Plunkett, a botanist from The New York Botanical Garden who is studying traditional plant uses, as part of the collaborative Plants and People of Vanuatu project, said that since he began working in Vanuatu in 2003, modern houses built from cement, steel, and corrugated sheet metal have increased in popularity, but since Cyclone Pam, he has seen kastom housing make a comeback.

Within a year or two of Pam, Plunkett noticed every village he visited had built or was building a new saeklon haos.

“Right after the cyclone, people saw how important they were for their survival and that was this rebirth of interest in building them,” Plunkett said. “It’s part of a rebirth of the importance of forests.”

Unlike coconut palms and bamboo which are more widely available, many of the plants that give saeklon haos their strength are found only in the deep forest. “People realise that without maintaining the forest, they can’t maintain their traditional practices,” said Plunkett.

Helping perpetuate the use of kastom houses on Aneityum, Vanuatu’s southernmost inhabited island, are Wopa Nasauman, his brother Anon, and father Tavet. Nasauman is a jack-of-all-trades, skilled at hunting, fishing, subsistence agriculture, plant collecting, and building traditional houses like the one completed by his father just before Cyclone Pam where he and others took shelter.

In the same compound, Nasauman shows how a second round kastom house has no nails but is lashed together with vine cordage softened over a fire and then tied tightly enough to hold the house together.

Nasauman and his father add up all the different vines used to secure the house. They count five types of cordage, some treated with fire, others with sea water.

With his knowledge of forest plants and ability to build strong kastom houses, Nasauman feels prepared for even the most punishing storm, saying, “In this house, if you were able to be here in the cyclone, you won’t hear any wind.”

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The Legend of Makoa

A couple of weeks ago I published a post about how Hawaiian school children participated in a 5k race and learned about the legend of Makoa. I realized that the post did not have the compete story of Makoa, and thought that this would be a terrific opportunity to share it. Enjoy!

The Legend of Makoa

There lived in the time of King Kamehameha, about 200 years ago, a famous runner named Makoa. When Makoa was young, his swiftness attracted the attention of the ali’i. They made him a kūkini, a foot racer, and required him to receive special training to increase his strength and speed. He began by walking on his toes without touching the heel of his foot to the ground. Then he tested himself against other kūkini for short distances and at a moderate pace. He won many foot races, and his friends and supporters frequently placed bets on him when he raced challengers from other islands and villages.

It was the custom of the great King to eat freshly roasted ʻamaʻama, or pond mullet, with his meals. That way he would remove the bitter aftertaste of the royal beverage, ʻawa, which was made from freshly chewed ʻawa root.

One day, on a regular circuit of his lands, he rested at Kawaihae, the windy crook in the coast of North Kohala. There his retainers found no fresh ʻamaʻama available. “Send the swiftest runner to fetch the King’s fish from Waiākea,” ordered the retainers. So Makoa made his famous run to Hilo to get the mullet from the King’s fishponds at Waiākea, a distance of over 80 miles.

The Legend of Makoa (Hawaii)

“The Legend of Makoa,” illustration by Tara Bonvillain, copyright 2021.

Makoa left early in the morning. “Hū ka makani,” said the people who witnessed the speed of his departure, “The wind blows a gale.” Makoa raced across the steep and rocky terrain between Kohala and Hilo. His swift passing caused the ʻuki grass to wave to and fro, the lehua blossoms and leaves of the ʻōhiʻa to flutter.

The distance would take an ordinary man four days, traveling without baggage. Yet Makoa returned with the ʻamaʻama before the sun stood high in the heavens. As the retainers unwrapped the kī leaf bundle and removed the limu covering the fish, they exclaimed, “It still lives!” The fish quivered, not yet dead.

Thus Kamehameha drank his ʻawa down and ate the fresh fish to remove the bitter taste from his mouth. To this day Hawaiians say that a runner who shows great speed is “He pōkiʻi no Makoa,” Makoa’s younger brother.

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Showcasing Pacific Poetry at COP26

Radio New Zealand posted an interesting article about how there are 11 pieces of poetry displayed against digital art to create a collection at COP26. The poems have been a consistent part of side events that share stories from the Pacific islands.

Director of Climate Change Resilience of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) Tagaloa Cooper said they presented the designs to be heard and seen in Glasgow. “Our numbers are small here at this COP, so we have to be heard and seen in as many different ways, and spaces possible, these works are designed to take our experiences across the divide with us to Glasgow,” she said.

Supported by Aotearoa New Zealand, SPREP have worked with Mana Moana, a collection of artists, to amplify the Pacific voice at COP26 through the Mana Moana – Pacific Voices.

“We have a great collection of stories and art that profile the Pacific as a unique region, the Pacific people are great orators and storytellers. It’s the first time for us to undertake a project like this, but we have found it to be successful with the works moving all the see them,” Cooper said.

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“We will not come to speak numbers.

We will not be stuck in the small cages of spreadsheets.

We come accounting for generations to come:

knowing our blue bonds are to the ocean, earth and sky.”

–  Our Ancestors Speak, by Karlo ’Ulu’ave Mila

The Mana Moana – Pacific Voices spans Our Ancestors Speak, a powerful work that is a call to arms for peoples across the Pacific and globally.

It was filmed in multiple locations featuring real people and voices from Aotearoa, the Cook Islands, Fiji, Guam, Hawaii, Kiribati, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Tokelau, Tonga, Torres Strait Islands and Tuvalu.

Our Islands Speak, another part of Mana Moana – Pacific Voices, culminates 10 different poems from 10 different Pacific Island poets merging with indigenous artists to create a visual, moving, digitally enhanced offering in the series of poems hand-picked by special curator Dr Karlo Mila.

The poems have been featured on the big screens within the halls of the COP26 in Glasgow, showcasing Pacific prose to those at the conference, strengthening the call for a 1.5 degrees Celsius world.

A Pacific poet who contributed to the Mana Moana – Pacific Voices Audrey Brown-Pereira said it has been an honour to see and hear the Pacific prose resonate at COP26. “We know that words are powerful at this conference and are proud to be able to contribute – support our Pacific negotiators in some way. Poetry can touch people at different levels.”

“We are pleased to share our gifts to help people understand and act upon the climate change challenges our people are experiencing, to help us make a difference and bring a 1.5 world about for our Pacific survival.”

These videos have been developed to be screened during the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) COP26 and other relevant climate change events.

Mana Moana was established in 2019 and brings together leading interdisciplinary Māori and Pasifika artists to collaborate on multimedia and moving image artworks exploring our relationships with the ocean, climate change and highlighting indigenous knowledge and stories.

The project innovates a fine art delivery presentation across multiple platforms, while adhering to its kaupapa values of art-activism, indigenous values, and creating a medium for upholding a healthy and respectful relationship with the Moana in all its forms (ocean, lakes, rain, rivers).

Mana Moana seek to draw attention to, critique, and to request action on environmental issues with a future indigenous frame, using technology and art.

Their goal is to generate and maintain a healthy space between us, each other and our environment, and to bring people together.

 

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Homecoming: A Film About Pukapuka Gets New Title

For the past few years I have been following the process of the documentary film, Homecoming: A Film About Pukapuka. I can’t believe it has been six years since the filmmakers embarked on their journey. Below is an update that the film is now complete and has a new title:

Six years have passed since we launched and received your generous backing for KS Homecoming: A Film About Pukapuka Campaign. Where did all the time go? Covid certainly changed our lives and slowed all of us down. We persisted and are thrilled to announce the film’s completion! We will celebrate the world premiere at the 41st Hawaiʻi International Film Festival with the new title THE ISLAND IN ME. What a long and fascinating journey this has been! We are eternally grateful for your patience and can’t wait for you to see the film.  All of you will see your name listed in the ending credits as a thank you. 

Director and Producer, Gemma made the decision to change the title of the film. This is very common in documentary filmmaking, since we start with one idea of what the film may be and then reality reveals its final meaning.  By the time we completed editing, many other films and series had the title Homecoming. In the end it all fell into place – as Gemma describes in her director’s statement on Talcual Films, after 10 years making this film she witnessed the imprint Pukapuka had on all with the fortune to experience it….It is her hope that after watching  THE ISLAND IN ME, you will also feel the island in you! Take a look at the new film trailer!

Find below all the info and links to be part of THE ISLAND IN ME world premiere at the the 41 Hawai’i International Film Festival (HIFF).

In person HIFF screenings, following Hawai’i Covid Save Protocols;
At Kahala Theaters, Honolulu, Oahu. Tuesday, Nov. 9th at 6pm. Already sold out!
At Waimea Theater on Kauai Island.Sunday, Nov. 21st at 2:30pm.

Virtual HIFF Screening for anyone in the US Territories:
From Nov. 10th through Nov. 28th, 2021  only for anyone in the United States you will be able to watch THE ISLAND IN ME online at HIFF.  

And don’t forget to check out a couple of books that are related to the subject of the film:

  • Miss Ulysses from Puka-Puka

  • Mr. Moonlight of the South Seas

Both titles can be found on Amazon.com

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Marshallese Canoes Being Built in Europe

An interesting article recently appeared in the Marshall Islands Journal, written by Giff Johnson, about how Marshallese style boats are being designed and built by skilled builders in the Marshall Islands, and also being built in places that one might not expect, such as Europe.

In Majuro, Waan Aelon in Majel has designed and built what they call a “carro proa.” The WAM team built it in three weeks. The main hull holds a fish box that has an opening to let the sea water in and out, which replaces the need of ice to keep the fish fresh.

“On the kubaak hull, we built a cabin compartment onto it to keep a little stove and other items dry,” said WAM Director Alson Kelen. “There is enough room in there for a person to rest.”

The other proa design is called “proasis” and is currently in Germany. This one was built by the GIZ marine engineers that came to WAM and trained the team in Majuro.

“They are currently sailing around a big lake there and talking about the effects of climate change in the RMI, and that is the reason the RMI flag is on it,” said Kelen.

In addition to the proasis, a Marshallese outrigger canoe was built by the WAM trainer Isocker Anwel and GIZ trainer Henrik Richter-Alten in the Netherlands. Its sail carries a Marshallese flag design and the hull and outrigger are painted flag blue.

WAM had two GIZ-supported marine engineer trainers for boat building training sessions in Majuro: Rob Denny from Australia who designed the carro proa, and Henrik Richer-Alten from Germany who designed the WAMCatamaran.

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The “proasis” sailing boat built by the German International Development Agency (GIZ) marine engineers that came to WAM and trained the team in Majuro before heading back to Europe. The vessel, sporting a Marshall Islands flag, is sailing around Germany promoting awareness about climate change and the Marshall Islands. Photo from the Marshall Islands Journal

“This WAMCat design is the one that the solar powered outboard was installed on,” said Kelen. “WAM also had a GIZ-funded electrical engineer that assisted WAM with its solar ready-electrical wiring and designing of the electrical propulsion kit — the solar powered outboard — on the WAMCat.”

“These guys didn’t just design these sail boats, but also designed them so they’re strong, easy to change the design to our needs, easy to maintain, and repairs (can be made) locally by local boat builders,” said Kelen. “All the building materials are also available locally. This is why we’re able to build these boats in three weeks. Our aim is to design boats that fit the needs of outer islands,” he said.

Currently, the program has started trialing a new solar-powered outboard engine for one of their canoes. They plan to test it over the coming 12 months to gauge its “real world” performance, battery life, optimal speed to maintain batteries, and so on. The solar-powered outboard could be applied to multiple types of boats, not only canoes, Kelen said.

The solar-powered engine is being done in partnership with the German government’s international aid agency known as GIZ, which is supporting a variety of sustainable sea transport initiatives here.

“We’re taking baby steps, so each of these vessels gets better and ultimately we find the one that works best in the outer islands,” he said. “With canoes, we need several styles to match different environments in the lagoons.”

Being able to maintain and repair these canoes and boats on the outer islands is an essential part of making this technology accessible to people in remote islands and sustainable in the long-term, he said.

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Celebrating Tokelau Language Week 2021

Journalist Sela Jane Hopgood of Radio New Zealand wrote an article about how Tokelauans in New Zealand championed their language and culture during last week’s Tokelau Language Week.

The theme for this year’s Te Vaiaho o te Gagana Tokelau – Tokelau Language Week is Tokelau! Tapui tau gagana ma tau aganuku, i te manaola ma te lautupuola which means Tokelau! Preserve your language and culture, to enhance spiritual and physical well-being.

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Covid-19 restrictions in New Zealand has disrupted the celebration of Tokelau language week.

In Porirua, north of Wellington, Glenview primary school runs a Tokelau language class after school for students in the city – where a large number of Tokelauans live.

Glenview school assistant principal, Tufaina Faraimo, said traditionally in Porirua they have their popular dance off to celebrate the language week, but large gatherings are prohibited at the moment. Faraimo said that’s one of many aspects to how they celebrate Tokelau. “In the Tokelau culture you sort of like talking to each other through your talking, so there’s a lot of introduction, a lot of gesturing and we’re going to miss all of that because we can’t gather, so Covid has not been good for us.”

Faraimo said the students from the after school program are currently working on a play about a Tokelauan legend which they will perform later this week. “I’m also training them up to run the whole assembly without teacher input, just to stand confidently in who they are, but before each of them speak they have to introduce themselves in a Tokelau way, which is to let people know who their parents are,” she said.

Glenview school recently got a new flag pole, which flew the Tokelau flag for the first time at their opening ceremony for the language week.

The most recent census records 8,676 Tokelauans living in New Zealand, almost half of those in Wellington.

This year marks 73 years since Tokelau became part of the New Zealand realm of countries.

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Where is Tokelau? Map from http://www.worldatlas.com

 

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Kona Pacific PCS Students Take on the Legend of Makoa

A few weeks ago journalist Laura Ruminski wrote an article for West Hawaii Today about how students at Kona Pacific Public Charter School learned about the Hawaiian legend of Makoa while participating in a virtual 5K race last month.

“During COVID, when most field trips and events have been closed to students and the public as a whole, we have found a way for our local keiki to get involved, while maintaining safety protocols the entire time,” said teacher Kari Lepouttre.

Ahead of the big event, fifth-grade students collaborated with Clean Reward in a beach clean up at Old Kona Airport Park on Sept. 12. Forty-five people participated, collecting more than 100 pounds of trash.

The teacher tied in different historical aspects of the race into the academic instruction. She taught a mini historical lesson on the ancient kukini (fast runner) and the legend of Makoa. The legend says Makoa ran from Kawaihae to Waiakea in order to bring King Kamehameha fresh ama‘ama. He made the trip with the fish to Hilo and back in one day.

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Makoa and the Mullet. Picture from volcanoartcenter.org

The Legend of Makoa Virtual 5K was an islandwide annual event. This was Kona Pacific Public Charter School’s first time participating.

“As a Waldorf charter school, we celebrate Hawaiian culture and incorporate Hawaiian studies across the grades. This race was a way to be a part of something bigger than our small ohana and connect across the islands with history, culture, and legend,” said Lepouttre.

She said the legend of Makoa and the fish fit beautifully into their curriculum.

“Oral storytelling and weaving legends of place into our classroom is essential to our learning,” she said. “In fifth grade, our students are studying many different ancient cultures and how these people lived, took care of their families, land and villages; as well as the myths and legends that helped to shape their worldview. Taking the stories we have heard and then experiencing, living and breathing them actually allows the children to understand the story within their body, not only in their head.”

Lepouttre also introduced a mini-journalism lesson where the students wrote an article about all the aspects of their race. Finally, the students were shown images of Hawaiian ancient petroglyph fields, including some from Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. They focused on the petroglyph symbol of runners and the students shaped beeswax into a petroglyph runner.

Lepouttre said completing the Legend of Makoa race has given her students the opportunity to test their endurance, overcome their inner negative dialogue, and prepare for the Waldorf tradition of participating in the Greek-inspired Pentathlon at the end of our school year.

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Niue Language Week 2021

Radio New Zealand has reported that this year, the Niuean community in New Zealand decided on the theme, “Kia tupuolaola e moui he Tagata Niue,” which means “May the Tagata Niue thrive” for Faahi tapu he Vagahau Niue – to celebrate Niue Language Week 2021.

The theme stems from the umbrella concept of wellbeing, for this year’s nine Pacific Language Weeks. “If we look at the challenges which our people have faced due to the impact of the global pandemic, it can be completely overwhelming,” said Aupito William Sio, Minister for Pacific Peoples.

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“However, if we turn to what is constant in our lives, which for Pacific peoples is faith, cultural knowledge, values and language, the unknown doesn’t seem so daunting.

“By combining the complex elements of spiritual, emotional, physical and social wellness, it ensures prosperity and wealth in the home, community and nation.

“It is vital people develop and embrace goals and opportunities despite the distractions of life.

“Instead of worrying about what we cannot control, we look to what we can, and we can start to move forward again, and even thrive,” Sio said.

Niue Language Week is the second to last of the 2021 Pacific Language Weeks series and activities and events will be delivered online due to recent Covid-19 restrictions. “Despite the uncertain times we face with the challenges of Covid-19, our cultural knowledge, values and language remain constant, helping us progress towards goals in life,” Sio said.

The number of people in New Zealand, who identify as Niuean is 30,867, according to the 2018 Census, with the population increasing steadily over the past two decades.

“We are inspired by Niue achieving 97% vaccination of its eligible population. Following the leadership of our families and friends in Niue, I encourage the Niueans of Aotearoa to take up your Covid-19 vaccination. Do it to keep yourselves, your families and communities safe. With more Niueans living in Aotearoa than in Niue, revitalising the culture and language is more crucial now than ever,” Sio said.

Key Niuean phrases:
Fakaalofa atu – Greetings/Hello
Fakamolemole – Please
Fakaue – Thank you
Malolo Makai a Koe? – How are you?
Ko e higoa haaku ko – My name is __________
Hau a koe i fē? – Where are you from?
Tau Fakamonuinaaga! – Blessings

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Tonga’s Ancient Version of Rugby- Kasivaki

 

 

Rugby is one of the most popular, if not the most popular sport throughout the Pacific. Radio New Zealand recently posted an interesting article about how the sport was played in ancient Tonga…

Rugby is described as one of the toughest sports on the field, but it’s nothing compared to how they used to play it back in Tonga. 

Kasivaki is an ancient Tongan sport very similar to rugby, but it was played in the ocean, under the water and with a rock.

Tongan artist and practitioner, Milika Pusiaki, said it was a sport used to entertain the king and chiefs of the villages. “It’s really an ancient Tongan sport that was purely used for entertainment, just to show off their skills and strengths and fighting stamina in the water,” she said. 
                                               
“They would go down into the seabed and stand between two soft coral rocks with one team on the east and the other on the west… it’s like playing rugby under the water with a rock.”

Two teams of seven men were selected to face-off in the underwater game with no reserves. 

The aim was to score a ‘try’ at the opposite end of the bay, while keeping hold of a 35kg (77 lbs.) rock and fending off the opposing teams players. It would often see men drown, leaving only the strongest and most skilled men to play another round.  

Pusiaki, a former tour guide for the Tongan National Cultural Centre said the most skilled warriors were gifted land or anointed special titles. 

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The “ball” used in the game of Kasivaki was a large, heavy stone, weighing around 35kgs. Photo from Radio New Zealand

“There was a chief by the name of Tokemoana, and he was known as the most skilled warrior of the sport, and he would sit on his thrown named Maka Ko Laupua, and he would watch the other Tongans compete against each other,” she explained. “He would be anointed with a special title and was sometimes given a piece of land as a prize, but he was definitely elevated in terms of the title and the hierarchy of Tongan society.”

It was an honor for men to play for the king, she added. “They wouldn’t do it for their own gain, they would be delighted to see the chief or the king himself, that he’s enjoying what they are doing and that’s all that mattered to them. At the end of the day they feel content knowing that their superior, the king, his majesty or even the noble is happy in watching the game.”

It is understood that his late Majesty King Taufa’ahau Tupou I prohibited Kasivaki as it caused the deaths of his subjects for the entertainment of chiefs.

There have however been more-modern attempts to revive the game, with the Japanese adopting the under water sport as “water rock rugby”.

“That’s exactly the version of Kasivaki that I heard from the elders, it’s exactly like that… it’s like seeing what the ancestors did in the past,” she said. 

Pusiaki said she’d like to see a more modern version revived in Tonga, to keep the history of the sport alive. “It’s similar to Tau’olunga, the Tongan dance you know, non-Tongans who are keen to learn more about another culture by taking part in our dances, why not our sports.”

“I think with the 35kg rock there would be trouble [to revive], that’s why they sink because it was too heavy.. but I think if it is to be revived, we should make something light and just do it above water.” 

“Let’s do this as a Tonga original game but get our palagi brothers to try it for once, we always do it the western way, but we have our own traditional games that could be revived and elevated into a more professional style.”

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