Great Warrior, Great Battle
Around the world, there are documented wars, battles and tensions between countries over power, money, and even women. The South Pacific, as small as the countries are, indeed have had their own conflicts that have bled into America and other areas of the world. Out of the Pacific, Tongans & Samoans have had the most tension which has surfaced in the U.S and New Zealand making them the new battlegrounds to continue the “battle.” The question always has been, “Why?” The past is the past but it does not dictate our today or future. It has influenced people but not committed them to “fight.” There are many who love regardless of race and advocate for others to do the same through education, exposure, and experience. Here is an insight from someone who might know a thing or two about Tongan & Samoan relations.
Princess Diaries 4:
When the topic of relations between the Islands of Samoa and Tonga are brought up, my mind is a whirlwind of thoughts. What is one without the other?
I feel a strong connection to Samoa.
We shouldn’t deny the extremely intertwined history Tonga shares with Samoa. Tongans and Samoans only remember the animosity between the neighboring islands, but do not acknowledge the great mutual respect that formed the basis of each other’s cultures. When both Islands are looked at from a historical perspective, you can see that the similarities and connections are far more deeper and respected then the surface would show. The body of ancient Tongan Kings were sacred and only Samoans were allowed to touch them in order to receive their tattoos. In ancient times, although battles were fought between Samoa and Tonga, leaders of both countries would still show respect to each other even though the fate of one of them would be a loss. The story is, when Samoa battled Tonga to reclaim their country and won, the leader of the Tongan army called to the leaders of the Samoan army and said, “Malie To’a [great warrior]. Malie e tau [great battle],” so the Highest Samoan titles Malietoa and Malietau have Tongan origin. An example of something revered in the Tongan culture with Samoan roots, is the Tongan solo dance or tau’olunga. We [Tongans] integrated the Samoan solo dance into our [Tongan] culture. I’ve learned that one nation gives strength to the other. As a true Tongan, I pay homage from the strength I’ve gained, knowing that some of the rich legacy of my country has is a result of our relationship with Samoa.
I feel a strong personal connection to Samoa starting with my name. My full name is Frederica Lupe’uluiva Fatafehi Lapaha Tuita. Lupe’uluiva, a Samoan name, was gifted to me by my late grandfather, King Tupou IV. I once asked Tooa Tosi Malietoa (daughter of High Chief Malietoa of Samoa), what was the story behind the name Lupe’uluiva. I remember sitting at her feet, looking up at her, eagerly listening to her to explain. And in Samoan and a little english she says my name means “dove with nine heads”. In Samoa, there is a pool of water, Vaimo’oi’a, there hatched a dove’s egg and it bore a dove with nine heads. The metaphorical meaning behind the name is one who carries wisdom and the ability to connect with their people, Aiga or [in Tongan] Kainga. Through my name, I feel an abundance of love for Samoa just as much as I do with Tonga. I believe I inherited this trait from my late grandfather, Tupou IV. He spoke Samoan and would hold conversations with the late Malietoa Tanumafili II
I remember when our grandfather was in Mercy Hospital (Auckland, NZ), and shortly before he passed away there were things he would start to forget. At times when we’d sit with him, I’d wonder if he remembered us- his grandchildren, but the moment Alaileula walked into his room where we were with him, he remembered her immediately and asked about Samoa and her family there. The greatest Tongan chiefs from the first Tu’i Tonga down to the current King of Tonga are knowledgeable of the history we share with Samoa to appreciate our connections.
I often wish all polynesians shared my gratitude for other cultures, as well as, the friendly banter that I share with my Samoan friends and family. I take nothing they say negatively or to heart because they are my heart! I owe many of my fun loving traits to spending time and growing up with my Samoan friends and family. My aunt Alaileula Tuku’aho tells me the first time she saw me, I was 3 years old, and without knowing who she was I opened my arms inviting her to hug me. That story always always makes me happy and reminds me that how hate is often brought on by how we’re taught and that genetically all children have the ability to love without judgement. I walk around with pride knowing that I still carry that feeling today as an adult.
I feel sadness for those who instigate hatred between Samoans and Tongans, because it isn’t Fa’asamoa (the traditional Samoan way), or FakaTonga (the traditional Tongan way), to hate or bicker over things such as race. Neither culture is better or stronger than the other. Without the differences in the two cultures, Samoans and Tongans are the same.
If one were to take away an individual’s culture from them what would they bicker over?
Tongans and Samoans are proud of their culture and rightfully so. If we lived their culture on a daily basis, we would know it isn’t based on hate. The battle we face today isn’t between Samoans and Tongans, but against the ignorance to the bias one feels towards the other.
I consider myself, not only a true Tongan, but a true Polynesian. The knowledge and respect I have for both cultures connects and grounds me to both Tonga and Samoa. I stand by and will continue to share what both culture have taught me…. to love!
Written By: Hon. Frederica Tuita