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September 18, 2017 | by  | in One Ocean |
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One Ocean

Koe anga faka tonga

Last week VUW celebrated Tongan Language Week and our theme for this year is “Fakakoloa Aotearoa ‘aki ‘ae nofo ‘a kainga,” which means “Enriching Aotearoa with our family values.” One aspect of our Tongan culture that always interests me the most are the four core values that differentiate us from our neighbouring island friends. Growing up in a Tongan household we were taught the pillars of Tongan society that have been practised by my parents and those before them in Tonga. Those core values are ofa (love), faka’apa’apa (respect), anga fakato ki lalo (humility), and tauhi vaha’a (gratitude).

While all these core values are practised in Tongan communities, the one that plays a major role in Tongan society is faka’apa’apa. Faka’apa’apa comes in many forms: faka’apa’apa the general public give their sovereign; faka’apa’apa the King and/or Queen gives the people; faka’apa’apa between an individual and his or her in-laws; faka’apa’apa children give their elders; and most importantly, the faka’apa’apa between a brother and his sister.

In my household growing up my parents were very strict on us when it came to faka’apa’apa between me and my siblings. This meant never discussing personal issues with each other, doing activities together such as watching television, and having to dress modestly at all times whether it be at home or out and about. Everything about the way we lived had rules and boundaries in place in accordance to Tongan culture of sibling separation and respect.

For me, Tongan Language Week helps to remind us of what we will lose if we do not continue to practice the Tongan way of life. Currently, there are more Tongan people born in New Zealand than there are in Tonga, giving lea faka-Tonga (Tongan language) and anga faka-Tonga (Tonga culture) a special place here. Tongan Language Week/Uike Kātoanga’i ‘o e lea faka-Tonga gives people of all ethnicities the chance to learn some basic lea faka-Tonga, and gives the present generation such as myself who speak very little Tongan the chance to become experts in order to pass it on to the future generation.

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