Friday, 1 August 2008


View these beautiful photos and read the articles from the NZ Herald and from Television NZ

These images are from Guardian newspaper in the UK.

For more news on the Tongan Coronation click here King George Tupou V

Tuesday, 29 July 2008


Story by Michael Field
Fairfax Media
Monday, 21 July 2008

Lavish robes to be used in Friday's coronation of Tonga's King George Tupou V have been revealed in new postage stamps designed by a Wellington illustrator.

Tonga is spending T$5 million (NZ$3 million) on the coronation of the aging bachelor, including NZ$570,000, for tailored robes from Gieves & Hawkes at 1 Savile Row in London's Mayfair.

By tradition such robes are trimmed with ermine which comes from winter stoats and is used as a symbol of purity or virginity.

Wellington designer Denise Durkin has produced designs for three stamps to be released on Friday.

The main stamp features the king in coronation robes but it is not clear whether they are the ones to be used on Friday, or his father's.

In another coronation move the king has created two new princess "who are to be addressed as Their Serene Highnesses as a mark of esteem", the Royal Palace says in a statement.

One of the new princess is Sitiveni 'Alaivahamama'o Polule'uligana Tanusia ma'a Tonga who has been appointed to the title of Tungi. At the coronation he has been appointed Lord Bearer of the Crown. The other new prince, Tu'ipelehake, has been named "Lord Protector of the Royal Regalia".

Read more on the story at


The coronation of the King of Tonga, George Tupou V from 30 July to 3 August,will be an occasion the locals will remember for years to come with a series of extravagant events involving world acclaimed celebrities and personalities.

There are three coronation balls, a military parade, an unpredented traditional dance event, a giant fireworks display, open air concert and a marquee rugby match featuring the some of the best players in the world.

For rugby fans, the rugby match on 31 July will feature a Tonga XV versus a World XV made up of big name players from England, Scotland, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.

Jonah Lomu is among the stars name for the World XV which will also include Jonny Wilkinson, George Gregan, Stephen Larkham, Toutai Kefu, Matthew Burke, Lesley Vainikolo, Rupeni Caucaunibuca, AJ Venter,former All Blacks Carl Hoeft, Chresten Davis, Mark Mayerhofler, Tony Brown, Ron Cribb, former Manu Samoa Brian Lima, Trevor Leota and current Samoan internationals Semo Sititi and Mo Schwalger.

And if that wasn't enough - there will be a half time touch game will featuring Vaaiga Tuigamala, Michael Jones, Willie Ofahenguae, Mike Umaga, Matthew Ridge, Marc Ellis and Waisale Serevi.

The Event
Coronation Ceremony at the Centenary Church - this ceremony reflects the Christian nature of the Kingdom of Tonga whereby the Coronation Ceremony will be held at the Centenary Church in Nuku'alofa on Friday 1st of August 2008.

The Taumafa Kava or the Traditional Installation Ceremony of Kings will be held on Wednesday 30th July 2008. This Ceremony is steeped in Tongan culture since the inception of the Kingdom of Tonga. Royal Charity Concert - His Majesty has designated for all proceeds from any commercialisation of the Coronation to be donated to a Charity established specifically to address health research for diabetes in particular and other life style diseases in general.

If you would like more information go to Tongan King Coronation.

Monday, 17 December 2007


Bula! - One of the most common greetings in the Fijian language means "health" or "life". This is a shortened form of the greeting Ni sa bula, used as a greeting to a number of people.

In Fiji, you hear and see this greeting, Bula, most often. It is as common as "Hello". There are others that are simple and handy to know. Ni sa Moce (c is pronounced "th") means "sleep" but is used to say goodnight or goodbye. Ni sa yadra (pronounce an "n sound before the "dr") is "Good Morning".

And of course, one of the most useful phrases in any language, "Thank You", is Vinaka or Vinaka vaka-levu, which means "Thank you very much".

As in other parts of the South Pacific Islands, the Fiji Islands developed many languages, some similar and some very different. Missionaries in the 1840's chose the language of one island off the southeast of the main island of Viti Levu, to be the official language of Fiji.

This island, Bau, was home to Cakobau, the chief that eventually became the "King" of Fiji. Missionaries were interested in documenting a language and in standardizing all of Fiji on one official language to make their job of translating and teaching in Fiji a bit easier.

Fiji was first settled about three and a half thousand years ago. The original inhabitants are now called "Lapita people" after a distinctive type of fine pottery they produced, remnants of which have been found in practically all the islands of the Pacific, east of New Guinea, though not in eastern Polynesia. Linguistic evidence suggests that they came from northern or central Vanuatu, or possibly the eastern Solomons.

Before long they had moved further on, colonising Rotuma to the north, and Tonga and Samoa to the east. From there, vast distances were crossed to complete the settlement of the Pacific to Hawaii in the north, Rapanui (Easter Island) in the east and Aotearoa (New Zealand) in the south.

Unlike the islands of Polynesia which showed a continuous steadily evolving culture from initial occupation, Fiji appears to have undergone at least two periods of rapid culture change in prehistorical times.
This may have been due to the arrival of fresh waves of immigrants, presumably from the west. Prehistorians have noted that a massive 12th century volcanic eruption in southern Vanuatu coincides with the disappearance there of a certain pottery style, and its sudden emergence in Fiji.

It is hardly surprising then, that the Fijian culture is an intricate network and that generalisations are fraught with danger. Although the legendary king of Bau, Naulivou, and his successors had control over a large area of eastern Fiji, at no time before colonialisation was Fiji a political unity. Nevertheless, Fiji does exhibit certain traits that sets it apart from its neighbours, and it is this that defines a distinctive Fijian culture.

Bose Levu Vakaturaga (Great Council of Chiefs)

The Bose Levu Vakaturaga (BLV) is the highest assembly of the traditional chiefs of Fiji, with a small number of specially qualified commoners, who meet at least once a year to discuss matters of concern to the Fijian people. In earlier days this Council had the power to pass laws and regulations binding Fijians but this was removed towards the end of the colonial era when separate Fijian regulations were abolished. Despite this, the Council's advice is always sought on matters affecting the Fijian people, and it continues to be held in high esteem by all communities in Fiji.

The BLV appoints the President of the Republic of Fiji Islands. Currently, the BLV consists of 55 members. Three each are nominated from the 14 provinces, 3 from the island of Rotuma and 6 nominated by the Minister for Fijian Affairs in consultation with the President of Fiji. The current Prime Minister, President and Vice-President are also automatic members while former Prime Minister, Sitiveni Rabuka is a life-member of the Council.

Fijian Administration

Fiji is divided into 14 provinces, which are themselves composed of smaller administrative units, the basic one of which is the village (koro). At the head of a village is the turaga-ni-koro, elected or appointed by the villagers. Several koro form a district (tikina) and several tikina make up a province or yasana.

Each province is governed by a council with an executive head (Roko Tui) whose appointment has to be approved by the Fijian Affairs Board, which must also approve all rates and by-laws applied, by the provincial council. The Fijian Affairs Board is regarded as the guardian of the Fijian administrative system and many other aspects of Fijian custom.

Meke (Dance)
Visitors are often welcomed at resorts and hotels with a ‘meke’, a dance performance that enacts local stories and legends. While performances for tourists may seem staged, the meke is an ongoing tradition. The arrangement of the group and every subtle movement has significance. Important guests and onlookers are honoured with the best seating positions.

In the past, Fijian meke were accompanied by chanting by a chorus or by ‘spiritually possessed seers’, and usually rhythmic clapping, the thumping and stamping of bamboo clacking sticks, the beating of slit drums and dancing. They were held purely for entertainment, for welcoming visitors, or on important religious and social occasions; births, deaths, marriages, and property exchanges between villages.Men, women and children participated in meke. Men performed club and spear dances and the women performed fan dances.

Yaqona Drinking
Yaqona, otherwise known as kava, is an infusion prepared from the root of Piper methysticum, a type of pepper plant. It is extremeny important in Fijian culture - in the time of the 'old religion' it was used ceremonially by chiefs and priests only. Today, yaqona is part of daily life, not only in villages but across the different races and in urban areas. 'Having a grog' is used for welcoming and bonding with visitors, for storytelling sessions or merely for passing time.

There are certain protocols to be followed at a kava ceremony and in some remote villages, it is still a semireligious experience. Sit cross-legged, facing the chief and the tanoa, or large wooden bowl. Women usually sit behind the men and won't get offered the first drink unless they are the guest of honour. Never walk across the circle of participants, turn your back to the tanoa or step over the cord that leads from the tanoa to a white cowry (it represents a link with the spirits).The drink is prepared in the tanoa.

The dried and powdered root, wrapped in a piece of cloth, is mixed with water and the resulting concoction looks (and tastes) like muddy water. You will then be offered a drink from a bilo (half a coconut shell). Clap once, accept the bilo and say 'bula' (meaning 'cheers', or literally, 'life'), before drinking it all in one go. Clap three times in gratification and try not to grimace. The drink will be shared until the tanoa is empty. You are not obligated to drink every bilo offered to you, but it is polite to drink at least the first.

Bark Cloth and Traditional Textiles
Masi, also known as tapa, is bark cloth with black and rust-coloured printed designs. Masi played an important role in Fijian culture and its motifs had symbolic meaning and to a certain extent still do.

It is used for special occasions - in 1996 the Tui Cakau wore masi ceremonial attire at his installation as paramount chief of the Cakaudrove region. Fijian masi is now mostly made for tourists and is used for postcards, wall hangings and other decorative items. Textile designers are now incorporating traditional masi motifs in their fabrics.

Mat and Basket Weaving
Most Fijian homes use woven pandanus-leaf mats for floor coverings, dining mats and as finer sleeping mats. They are much in demand as wedding presents and for baptisms, funerals and presentations to chiefs. Most village girls learn the craft, traditionally it was the hereditary role of the women of certain tribes.

The pandanus leaves are cut and laid outdoors to cure, then stripped of the spiny edges and boiled and dried. The traditional method for blackening the leaves for contrasting patterns is to bury them in mud for days and then boil them with special leaves. The dried pandanus leaves, made flexible by scraping with shells, are split into strips of about 1 to 2cm.
Photos citation:
Fijian flag: Kava ceremony,

Wednesday, 28 November 2007


The Arts Pasifika Awards 2007, held earlier this month, honoured and recognised New Zealand Pacific artists from a range of artistic backgrounds - from opera to theatre, film, dance, visual art and literature.

The annual awards encourage and celebrate excellence in Pacific arts in New Zealand. And the winners were:

Justine Simei–Barton Senior Pacific Artists’ Award ($7000) recognises the contribution of a senior Pacific artist in maintaining or developing his or her artform in New Zealand.Justine Simei-Barton is the owner and director of New Zealand’s first Pacific independent professional film company, Tala Pasifika Productions Ltd. Through her work as a film-maker, producer, director, writer for film, television and theatre, and tutor Justine is a mentor for young emerging indigenous theatre practitioners.

Dr.‘Okusitino Mahina Pacific Heritage Arts Award ($5000) recognises an individual artist or cultural group who has made a major contribution to maintaining, reviving or promoting a Pacific heritage artform in New Zealand.A lecturer in social anthropology at the University of Auckland, Dr Okusitino Mahina, is part of the Tongan Heritage Association and has contributed to numerous Tongan heritage arts projects and publications. His work has been instrumental in reviving many traditional Tongan arts such as poetry, dance, singing and oral tradition.

Nina Nawalowalo Pacific Innovation and Excellence Award ($5000) recognises an established Pacific artist or group who has demonstrated innovation and excellence in their artform.Nina Nawalowalo founded the acclaimed Pacific Island theatre company The Conch, whose award winning production Vula - most recently performed at the Sydney Opera House in 2007 - will tour in 2008 to the Barbican Centre in London.

Sani Muliaumaseali'i Iosefa Enari Memorial Award ($3000) recognises the contribution of the late Iosefa Enari to the arts and in particular his pioneering role in Pacific opera. This study/travel award supports the development of Pacific opera singers.

Sani Muliaumaseali'i, who grew up in Auckland, is now based in London where he teaches vocal technique. He recently made his Wagnerian debut as Froh in Das Rheingold at the Longsborough Opera Festival and is currently preparing the title role of Siegfried, also for Longborough Opera in 2009.

WakaUra Cultural Dance Company Ltd Emerging Pacific Artists’ Award ($3000) recognises an emerging Pacific artist or group showing promise in their chosen artform. The WakaUra Cultural Dance Company has represented New Zealand’s diverse Pacific cultures in a range of settings, from performances at high-profile rugby games to being part of a Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade delegation to French Polynesia.

Sale Pepe Salamander Gallery Award for Emerging Pacific Visual Artists ($3000) recognises an emerging Pacific artist showing promise in the field of visual arts. Currently studying towards a Bachelor in Visual Arts at Auckland University of Technology, Sale Pepe has had his work exhibited in galleries in New Zealand and Sydney.

For more coverage of the awards. Check out the this article in the Spasifik Magazine

Monday, 29 October 2007

THE COOK ISLANDS - the best kept secret of the Pacific

The Cook Islands consist of 15 islands scattered over some 2 million square kilometres of the Pacific Ocean and with a total population of approximately 18,000. They lie in the centre of the Polynesian Triangle, flanked to the west by The Kingdom of Tonga and Samoa and to the east by Tahiti and the islands of French Polynesia. The Cook’s are split into two groups. The Southern Group includes the mountainous main island of Rarotonga, the scenic beauty of Aitutaki and the raised coral atolls of Mangaia, Atiu, Mauke and Mitiaro. The makatea (uplifted coral reef) on these islands hides deep caves and supports extensive native forest and scrubland. The Northern Group islands are recognised for their turquoise lagoons fringed by white sand beaches and coconut palms.

The Cook Island Maori are related to New Zealand Maori and the Maohi of the Society Islands in French Polynesia. Historians believe the first Cook Islanders migrated from the Society Islands around 500AD. By 1901 all the islands had been annexed by New Zealand and eventually became self-governing in August of 1965. Strong links remain between the two countries, and all Cook Islanders hold New Zealand citizenship.

Cook Islanders are renowned as incredibly friendly people, who have succeeded in keeping a strong sense of their heritage and culture alive. As a nation they have a talent and love for music and song, and are famous throughout the Pacific for their distinctive dancing and drumming. Christian music is extremely popular, originally derived from Western missionary hymns. Traditional songs and hymns are referred to as himene metua (hymn of parent/ancestor). Traditional dance is the most prominent art form of the Cook Islands, each island having its own unique dances that are taught from childhood and accompanied by dynamic drumming. Traditional arts and crafts are still strong, from the finely woven mats, fans, baskets and rito hats, to the beautifully colourful tivaevae. Woodcarving is also prevalent, with strong reference to traditional culture and religion such as the god Tangaroa.

Pictures cited:
Cook Island Dancers

Pasifika library wins prestigious award

The Pasifika library and information recruitment project was presented the 2007 Nielsen Book Data Research Award at the Library and Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa Annual Conference on 11 September.

The Award is made to support a proposed research project related to information management, which encompasses the fields of publishing, library and information management, electronic libraries, and bibliographic and full-text databases. Spencer Lilley (Research Project Leader) received the Award on behalf of the research team and the Pasifika Information Management Network for their forthcoming research project on how to recruit and retain more Pacific Peoples into the Library and Information professions.

In receiving the award, Spencer highlighted the fact there was currently a “very small number of Pacific people employed in the library and information professions and that this needed to change as the Pacific population is growing at an accelerated rate. It is expected that this growth will result in an increased demand for specialist services targeted at Pacific peoples, and libraries and information agencies need to be ready for this.

The project also focuses on how libraries and other information agencies encourage Pacific peoples to use their services and resources and will use case studies of successful partnerships between Pacific communities and the library and information professions to highlight the best practices.In presenting the Award, Martine Poiree of National Manager of Nielsen BookData Ltd, praised the project as being very timely due to the growing importance of the contribution made by Pacific people to New Zealand’s social, economic and cultural future.