UVEA CHIEF RENEWS CULTURAL TIES WITH TONGA

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NUKU’ALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, July 13) - A historical link between Tonga and the islands of Futuna and 'Uvea [Wallis] was reactivated this morning by the 'Uvean chief, Saatula, who is visiting Nuku'alofa.

Saatula and his countrymen, Sumoi Sanualio and Pagartele Isaia, made a presentation this morning, July 13, at the Lo'au Research Foundation 7th International Conference, at the Dr. Moulton Memorial Hall. The conference with the theme "Indigenous Knowledge and Lo'au up to the present," runs from July 11-14.

The Uveans spoke about the cultural similarities and historical links between Futuna and 'Uvea, and Tonga.

[PIR editor’s note: The island of Uvea – also known as Wallis - and neighboring Futuna are a French Overseas Territory. They are located to the northwest of Tonga.]

The ancient Tongans, Futuans and 'Uveans believed in the underworld called Pulotu, the place of the Polynesian afterlife.

Saatula said that Pulotu is located at Futuna, under the sea near the Futunan village of Taoa. He said he was aware that there were claims for a Pulotu in a location in Fiji, but he believed that the Fijian claim was hearsay, and the true location of Pulotu was in Futuna.

"We have got the proof," he said.

He said that according to legend, a man called Peni from the village of Taoa (in Futuna), went out to do some work at night, and lo and behold he was confronted by another man who said he came from Pulotu, and to prove that he was from Pulotu, the abode of the dead, he took Peni there. Peni had to die to be able to communicate with the people of Pulotu, and so he died for four days. During Peni's stay in Pulotu he learned the ancient dance called Me'etu'upaki.

Four days later Peni returned to Taoa and told the people what had happened to him, and to prove that he had been to Pulotu and back, he taught them the Me'etu'upaki.

According to Saatula, Taoa in Futuna was settled by Tongans, the home of a very powerful chief who has a lot of spears, or "tao."

The Me'etu'upaki is regarded by modern Tongans as an ancient dance, very graceful, but so old that no one knows the meaning of the lyrics.

Saatula said that the link between Futuna and 'Uvea and Tonga is very strong, and villages in Futuna and 'Uvea, have the same names as villages in Tongatapu, such as Ha'avakatolo and Nuku'alofa, and there is also a Niuafo'ou and a Niuatoputapu.

The vice president of the Lo'au Research Foundation, Siosiua Lafitahi Tofua'ipangai said that most of the Tongan village names which are used in Futuna and 'Uvea came from Ha'amea, "from central and western Tongatapu."

He said that it was thought that Lo'au, an individual who initiated political reform in Tonga, during the Tu'i Tonga Dynasty, was traveling back and forth between Tonga and Futuna and 'Uvea, and that is when the names came from.

July 14, 2006

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