To celebrate Uike Lea Faka-Tonga - Tonga Language Week, we spoke to Pacific Nursing student, Soane Tuangalu. He talks about the culture and language of Tonga, and discusses the significance of the ta'ovala.
What village/s are you from in Tonga?
My family's heritage is deeply rooted in the breathtaking islands of Tonga, from the villages of Talafo'ou, Niua Toputapu, and Faleloa.
What do you love about the Tongan culture?
What I love about my Tongan culture is the respect we have for our elders, our tightly connected communities, our rich traditions, spirituality, artistic talents, strong family values, and pride in preserving our language and oral heritage. It's part of our identity, and I'm proud to call Tonga home.
How do you sustain the language at home or in the community?
I believe that the preservation of our beautiful Tongan language begins at home. Every day, I would make it a point to speak Tongan with my family, fostering an environment for language learning, especially for our younger generation.
The ta'ovala is a significant piece in Tongan Culture. What can the ta'ovala be used for?
In Tongan culture, wearing a Ta'ovala is a sign of respect. It is commonly worn at formal events such as weddings, funerals, or important gatherings to show respect for the event and the people in attendance.
What is your favourite Tongan dish?
My favorite Tongan dish would have to be Lu Sipi. Lu Sipi is a popular Tongan dish made with lamb or mutton and taro leaves. The meat is simmered with coconut milk, onions, and sometimes tomatoes until it's tender and flavorful.
You are studying Bachelor of Nursing Pacific, how are you finding your studies so far?
I've been facing some challenges in my studies, but I'm putting in extra effort and seeking help when needed to overcome them. It's been a bit tough, but I'm committed to improving.