Revisiting the Tongan co-collecting stories of Project 83: Small Things Matter – Alfred Paea

Revisiting the Tongan co-collecting stories of Project 83: Small Things Matter – Alfred Paea

For Uike Kātoanga‘i ‘o e Lea Faka-Tonga | Tongan Language Week we take a look at the stories of Project 83: Small Things Matter in a special blog series. This co-collecting project was developed by the Year 13 Tongan language class of Sir Edmund Hillary Collegiate in 2017. 

Project 83: Small Things Matter enlisted our self-titled ‘youth agents’ to collect objects that represent their lives as Tongan students of Sir Edmund Hillary Collegiate. In total the class created a collection of over 20 of their most treasured objects including an original song composition, class photographs, and a Tongan brass band uniform. Object descriptions written by the students in Tongan and English were also collected as part of the project.

Today we share the story of Alfred Paea who collected his rugby medal, the yellow shirt from his lakalaka costume, the first English Bible he was gifted, and a photograph taken with his brother in costume at Polyfest 2016. All of these objects represent Alfred’s friendships and family relationships.

We acknowledge the generous assistance of Mrs Maata Fusitua who provided editorial support with the Tongan text.

A teenage boy in school uniform holding two sticks and standing in front of a dark red wooden building
Alfred Paea and his Polyfest uniform (teunga faiva), 2017. Photo by Amanda Rogers. Te Papa

Polyfest uniform (teunga faiva)

In this essay I will discuss the significance of my Polyfest uniform and how it tells the story of two brothers making history in the Sir Edmund Hillary Collegiate Tongan group. In 2016 my brother and I stood next to each other in the lakalaka in the highest positions as Vahenga (main leader) and Ta’ofi Vahenga (co-leader).

My costume for the lakalaka was a yellow shirt, maroon tupenu, and other adornments made by my family members. The teachers at school knew some families were struggling so they made sure to keep the costume simple so that it did not cost too much money to make. My family was one of the many families going through hard times so we went to the stores that sold the same materials but at a lower price. My parents bought the materials for the costume and my aunties helped my mum to make the different parts. When making dance costumes you need a lot of time as it is not easy to make things like the Faka Ha‘apai, tekiteki, and four vesa (two for each wrist and two for each ankle), shirt, and tupenu.

The shirt I am gifting to Te Papa was made for our lakalaka performance at Polyfest in 2016. This shirt is important to me because it represents the hard work of the teachers, tutors, and my fellow school friends. I was told by my Tongan teacher Ma‘ata Fusitua that my brother and I were the first siblings in Sir Edmund Hillary Collegiate history to stand side by side to perform at Polyfest. One brother was the lead dancer (Vahenga) while the other one was the second lead dancer (Ta‘ofi Vahenga). I was also told that this was the first time a Year 12 student took the position of second lead dancer as it is usually a Year 13 student in that position. There are not a lot of brothers that can say, “Yes I performed next to my brother at Polyfest and he was the lead dancer and I was the second lead dancer”. It was not easy to get the second lead dancer position because there were a lot of other good dancers and I was not yet in Year 13, but I guess the tutor picked the best person for the spot. My yellow shirt represents the bond that my brother and I shared as we prepared for Polyfest. My brother and I didn’t really get along when were little kids but we do our best to do what we can.

To sum it all up, I personally recommend that all Year 13 students participate in Project 83 as this will allow them to show Aotearoa how small things can tell a personal story. It will also give them the opportunity to see what others have collected and the stories behind it.

***

Ko hoku teunga faiva lakalaka ki he kataonga Polifesi – 2016

Ko éku talanoa ko e fakamatala ‘a e ki ‘i koloa ‘oku mahu‘inga kiate au. Ko e koloa teu foaki ki he Mesiume Te Papa’ ko hoku teunga faiva he katoanga Polifesi á e ngaahi ako he 2016. Naá ku kau mo hoku ta‘oketa ko ‘Inoke Paea heémau faiva lakalaka he ko hoku taókete naé taki he Fanau Tangata. Na‘e pau ai ke vahenga hoku taókete koeúhi ko hono lakanga taki. Na‘e fili au he Punake ko Mrs Vaitohi keu ta‘ofi vahenga koeúhi he na‘e malie ‘eku faiva. Na‘a ku ongo‘i fiefia ‘o hangé ha ‘aho tafitonga he‘ema tu‘u fakataha heémau faiva he ‘oku ‘ikai lahi ha tautehina é tu‘u fakataha ha faiva he katoanga Polifesi.

Naé fiefia foki mo éma fineéiki, neongo ko e ngaue lahi ki ai hono ngaahi homa teunga. Naé pau leva ke teunga faiva makehe hoku taókete. Ko ‘eku teunga faiva ko e sote lanu engeenga, tupenu lanu maluni, tekiteki, mo e vesa, ta‘ovala Lokeha mo e fakahaápai, Na‘e kumi kotoa ‘a e koloa he‘eku fineéiki ka e toki ngaahi ‘e hono tokoua homa taóvala, vesa, kahoa mo e tekiteki. Óku ou fakamalo lahi ki heéku fineéiki mo hono taókete pea moóni e lea Tonga, ko e áho pe ó e vale ía tama, he naá na fai éna lelei taha ke ma fakaófoófoa mo talavou he áho katoanga.

Na‘a ku ongo‘i fiefia mo vela mafana he haka‘i ‘a e lakalaka koe‘uhi ‘oku ou poto lelei he faiva pea u ‘ilo ko e ta‘u faka‘osi ia ‘eku faiva fakataha mo hoku ta‘okete. ‘Oku mahu‘inga ‘a e faiva kiate au he ko óku tala ai hoku Tonga pea na‘e hela‘ia ‘a e punake mo e faiako Tonga Mrs Fusitua mo e fanau ako he feinga‘i ‘emau faiva Lakalaka ke sai. Ko e ngaue lahi he naá mau vahevahe homau taimi ke lava émau ako mo émau ako faiva he uike é 6 ki he katoanga. Naá ma talanoa mo Mrs Fuşitua ki he hisitolia ó éma kau he faiva he ko e toki hoko eni ha ongo tautehina ke Taki mo Vahenga pea mo fika 3 ke taófi Vahenga. ‘Oku ‘ikai faingofua ke ma‘u ‘a e lakanga naá ma ‘iai pea na‘e tatau mo e ha e fiefia lahi ‘ema fineéiki.

Óku ou loto ke foaki hoku teunga faiva ki Te Papa ke nau tauhi mo malu‘i he é íai e taimi é álu atu hoku famili mo éku fanau he kahaú ki Te Papa ó sio mo nau lau éku talanoa.

This text has been edited for clarity.

2 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Very personal for self esteem is based on your human connections. A belonging that binds cultural performances, family, school and identity.

  2. Avatar

    Thank you for the opportunity to read another perspective. For example, young people’s voice is an important conversation when designing intervention programmes e.g. prediabetes.

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