Map of Tonga in the South Pacific

Map of Tonga in the South Pacific

Monday, June 25, 2012

Opening of Parliament, June 7, 2012

Last year I saw the Opening of Parliament as a tourist. This year, I had a place to be: with my school as it marched and took part in the day. The day before, Class 6 and Form 1 and 2 students practiced their marching. 
Practicing marching with Mr. Maka.

After marching through the Palace Grounds, the students sang this song of freedom.
The next day, Thursday, we met at our regular time, but the Class 1-5 students had a day off from school. Soon the students from Beulah College, the Seven Day Adventist High School, arrived in the school's bus and all of us got lined up and ready to march to town. The teachers wore black with mats as the Royal Family and the government were still officially in mourning for King George Tupou V. Also, no bands played this year as a sign of respect for his passing.

We were assigned to stand next to, and across from, the Police Station. We got there, lined the sidewalks on both sides of the street, and began the waiting. Many students and staff went to a nearby falekaloa (small store) to buy noodles or soft drinks to have while we waited.
Getting lined up.

Two Hilliard teachers eat dry noodles for "taimi tea" while we wait.

When we heard the booms of the cannon we knew the King was coming and we once again got into our lines and watched and waited. 
Here comes the King!

The cars passed and we got into line in the street to march toward the Palace and parade past King Tupou VI. 
Marching toward the Palace.
On the Palace grounds.
The students of Queen Salote College lined the way on both sides of the Palace. After we left the Palace grounds the students sang a song of freedom that it was allowed for them to sing. They sang with great joy! The day was warm and we were glad to march back to school, get a drink, and school was dismissed for the day.

All the High Schools marched and took part in the day. It is inspiring and wonderful to see block after block of young people lined up, showing respect for their King and the government. I was honored to be a part of it and experience the day.

Saturday, June 9, 2012


Early in May I began hearing about an art exhibit that would be held at the New Zealand High Commission, and they were calling it the Kermadec Exhibition. "What's that?" I thought. But art always draws me in. I talked to the Form 2 teacher about taking a few students from Hilliard to see it, those who showed an interest in art and drawing. We decided to take twelve students from Form 1 and 2. I called a friend at the Commission, and we were scheduled to go on a Wednesday afternoon.

The students were so excited on that day. We got to go by taxi and they posed for photos outside. Inside they were issued "passports" that had information and pictures about the art and the Kermadec region. We were the only group there, so we had personal attention. 
Posing outside the New Zealand High Commission.

Learning about the Kermadec region.

Asking questions about the art.

We learned that the Kermadec region belongs to New Zealand, but is closer to Tonga. "In May 2011 the Kermadec Initiative of the Pew Environment Group invited nine of the South Pacific's more prestigious and highly acclaimed artists to join them on the navy ship HMNZS Otago to voyage from New Zealand, through the Kermadec region, to Tonga. The resultant Kermadec Exhibition is a celebration of that journey." (from the news release from the NZ High Commission) The artwork has also been exhibited in Auckland, NZ. Four of the artists came with the artwork as hosts. There were also free public talks and workshops scheduled.

Our students asked many questions and took time to really look at the art. The next Saturday when Jim and I went to see it, as he hadn't had the opportunity yet, 10 Hilliard students were there on their own to see it, some who had been there before, and others who had not.  One student even brought a sketch pad with her. I was so proud and pleased with them, their interest and enthusiasm. Thanks, New Zealand, for giving the children and people of Tonga this wonderful opportunity!


Tapa with natural dyes.
A parting word of thanks on behalf of the group.

Saturday morning photo op in front of the High Commission.

Students who came on Saturday morning!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Father's Day, Tonga

Father's Day is the Sunday after Mother's Day here. It's nice having 1st the Children's Sunday, then the Mother's, and followed by the Father's, all in May. (Mother's Day here is the same date as in the U.S.) The day before, Sione came to Jim and asked him to read a scripture in church (in English, of course.) He agreed and looked it up and practiced reading it. Sione, as the sexton of the church, and a lay pastor, would be conducting the Father's Day Service. That morning the men of the church sang the special music, and there was also a baptism. Usually the parents of the child being baptized wear white, but as we are still mourning King George Tupou V, black is the correct color.  Families then go home to a special dinner and cake to honor the father.

So Father's Day here is over for this year, but Happy Father's Day to all! Don't know if that ever gets said enough.
Sione leads the worship service.

Jim reading scripture.

A member of the congregation, and an administrator at TIST where Jim works, makes the weekly announcements.

Sione gives the Children's Sermon using a broom and the song "Holy Spirit Sweep Over My Soul".
The children sing the song in Tongan and English with motions.

Sione and Belinda standing outside the church after the service.