Violent relationship between Tupou College and Tonga College students

by Rev Dr Mohenoa Puloka

“Mo’ui ngalo,” forgetting of who you are, your socio-personal identity, is a behavior taboo against which most Tongan parents and older generations do take care to move their children far away from, and instead instruct them of “’Ilo’i Kita,”  knowing yourself, similar perhaps to Plato’s “know thyself.” A part of the root cause of violent relationship between Tupou College and Tonga College students is “mo’ui ngalo.” Tupou College and Tonga College boys really forget who they are as brothers of the same parents. In 1883 His Majesty King Tupou 1 commanded Pauliasi Taumoepeau of Kotu, Ha’apai, a foundation scholar of Tupou College (1866) to set up and start Tonga College, the rest is rather a well known history.

In fact Tupou College and Tonga College are brother schools, with the former the elder and the latter as the younger brother. Sibling rivals, the human traits that build and destroy nations is part of the problems between the two premiere educational institutions in Tonga, Tupou College and Tonga College. Into the same groove Tupou College, a Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga school and the first secondary school amongst the Pacific Islands is seen in sharp contrast to Tonga College, a Government of Tonga school.

Instead of articulating against a historicist stance, I do acknowledge the rubbings of the past as having similar negative impacts on the present relationship between the two schools.  To be clear and fair to all parties involved, what the law calls onus probandi, (burden of proof) is squarely vested with the Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga. As the largest Christian Church and owner of Tupou College, and about 70% of Tonga College students and staff are members, the FWCT must navigate its kalia, “Mo’unga-ki-he-Loto,” fearlessly riding the white-crested waves of Tonga thus taming its wild and unruly waters.

In my response to a similar but less violent fighting between the two schools last month, I suggested publicly that an exchange classes be carried out by both schools. A Form Three from Tupou College be transferred to Tonga College and to be exchanged by a Form Three from Tonga College be transferred to Tupou College. To complete the Tonga School Certificate the transfer must remain in tact for at least 3 years. Those exchange students would build up a good durable environment for a better relationship of brotherly love amongst the boys.  

Parents, staff, and alumni of both schools must take care to build same brotherly relationships as each is not complete without the other. This exchange is neither a quid pro quo nor deus ex-machina, but a sine qua non, that decides aut vincere aut mori. About closing down both schools or Tupou College is a bad idea. You do not burn down the house in order to give it a new roof. Just do the necessary repairs for neither the Government nor the FWCT has the capacity to provide better alternatives.

However, the current situation exposes both the FWCT as well as the Government of Tonga as weak and ineffective provider of responsible infrastructure for a peaceful and well-ordered Tonga. Both Church and State are debilitated by the powerful onslaught of materialism. Worst is when the Church becomes more material and less spiritual while the State becomes a political machine without a heart.Vade in pace.

Rev. Dr. Tevita Tonga Mohenoa Puloka.
Director: Department of Continuing Theological Education for Clergy and Stewards, The Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga (Methodist Church in Tonga).

Copyright: Pentecost 2013, Tevita Tonga Mohenoa Puloka, PhD.             

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