The Auckland-based Fofo’anga kava club specially marked its 36th birthday last month by celebrating the appointment of one of its most devoted members, Malakai Koloamatangi, as associate professor at the University of Massey. Dr Koloamatangi was blessed during a prayer service organised by the members of the club at the Richmond Tongan United Church chapel.
General Secretary of the club, Viliami Teki Mausa Lavulo, said the program for the day was run by members of the club including the prayer service.
“We have our own faifekaus (ministers) and senior members of the club including Sele Latu, Lutui Palelei (Dr Taniela Lutui), Nalesoni Tupou, Tomasi Taukei’aho who given tasks to play during the service ranging from bible reading to hymns and to speech.
Koloamatangi was called to the front during the service and he was blessed by Rev 'Ilomaisini Lea who also said a prayer for him," Lavulo added
The malanga (sermon) of the day was led by Rev Francis Holani, Former President of Tongan United Church in Auckland, the secretary said.
Rev Setelo Katoa and Rev ‘Ilomaisini Lea were also assisted Rev Holani in leading the prayer service.
Ikalahi, a representative from Sydney Fofo’anga, attended the ceremony and he was given the role of reading one of the hymns.
Lavulo announced the club’s 2014 annual plan during the ceremony and a word of thanks was presented by Mohetaulanga Kupu, one of the founding members of the Fofo’anga Club in Auckland in 1978.
Kalolaine Lavulo performed a tau’olunga (solo dance) as the only entertainment of the day accompanied Dr Koloamatangi and the Fofo’anga band.
"Koloamatangi’s thesis was entitled Constitutionalism, Culture and Democracy: Tongan Politics Between 1991 and 1996.
"His research interests include democratisation, democratic theory and practice, international political economy, Pacific politics and economic development and the universality of ideas".
Not only is Koloamatangi highly educated but his musical talent as a lead vocalist and guitarist has proved exceptional in the club’s mission to unite members, a role performed by his late father Saimone Koloamatangi.
The late Koloamatangi, a key member of the Fofo’anga club in Tonga, established the New Zealand-based Fofo’anga in 1978.
The club embraces friendships and brotherhood under the one konitone policy (word coined by members from konisitutone) to refer to constitution – “Lau pe ua ko e taha – Regard two as one, “ko ho’o me’a ko ‘etau me’a” – what is yours belong to us all” and that "Everyone is equal".
Lavulo said the Fofo’anga strictly stick to the konitone.
“We believe every member should be treated equally from the lowest to the highest. We have a wide range of membership from unemployed to directors, ministers, lawyers, doctor of philosophers, and politicians to community leaders. When we mix and mingle everyone is treated equally without exception,” Lavulo said.
“We do not sell the kava, it is served free to everyone, even visitors, and that is just because of the konitone. There is no hierarchical organisation in the Fofo'anga meaning no executive body is selected to run the club. It just the secretary. I believe that is why the Fofo’anga is still operating since its first establishment in 1978,” he added.
“Members are only asked to donate fund when we have events like the celebration we had for the birthday. Other than that members are not bound by any financial obligations,” Lavulo said.
He said they used to celebrate the club’s birthday previously and this year members wanted to mark it along with Koloamatangi’s appointment to the Associate Professorship.
It could be seen that this was in contravention of our konitone as Koloamatangi appeared to have received special treatment. We have looked at it and everyone came to the conclusion that we have a responsibility to mark his associate professorship as it is important to support achievement in academia, Lavulo said.
Koloamatangi is one of the king of Tonga’s attendants and spokespersons and he was given the matāpule name Mafua-‘A e-Lulutai.
The name was first bestowed upon Koloamatangi’s father in 1978 by His Late Majesty Taufa’ahau Tupou IV.
King Tupou IV then bestowed the name upon Dr Koloamatangi in 2006.
The Fofo’anga club has several aims including the fostering of music and donating funds to important causes.
Music is at the core of the club’s policies and players are taught to learn their chords and know how to sing the lead and harmonise.
“We always say our band has to perform 110% all the time and members are encouraged to always do things to the best,” he said.
The club donates on quarterly basis to mission charities such as Auckland and Methodist Mission.
“In this project members are asked to donate whatever they would like to offer. We give them to the mission organisations in Auckland to help the poor.
“We have just also sent school materials to help Ha’apai Cyclone Victims and we will also award Fofo’anga scholarship this month at Massey University,” Lavulo said.
“We emphasize education this year and undertake to help ease the problem faced by our Tongan students in paying back of their student loans".
New Zealand chapters
Fofo’anga New Zealand was first established on 18 February, 1978.
In 1983 to 1985 it operated at Mohetaulanga Kupu’s residence at Universal Drive, Henderson. It was then returned to the 42 Dryden Street in Grey Lyn after the club building was built in 1987.
• 1991, club Late Mafua ‘a e Lulutai were in Rotorua to establish the club with members Manu Taliauli, Haunga Taumoepeau and Mofini Vehekite.
• 2002, Maka Talau Brown and Mameisinimani Fataimelo(Seti Seth) established the club at number 10 Water Street, Otahuhu. It opens every Saturday.
• 2008, Rev. Pitasoni Fonua, Tatesi Toamotu, Siale, Latu Fe’ao and Fanau To’utupu ‘Ohonua 'a e Fofo’anga Taufa’ahau, established (zone 6) Glen Innes Fofo'anga. It opens every Thursday.
• 2010 Rev. Sifa Pole, Paula Halaleva established Fofo’anga Dunedin.
• 2011 Rev Luiaki Fakapelea and Suvenia Malupo established the club at Ashburton. It opens every Friday.
• 2012 Sione Alaiva’a Talia’uli, Sipia Tangi, Suka Naeata Rev. Nomani ‘Aho, ‘Akilisi Langi and Tu’a established the Fofo’anga Counties – Manukau. It opens every Saturday.
• 2013 the club was established in Palmerston North, Manawatu by Pilise Taufa and Lino
The Grey Lynn Fofo'anga chapter is at Mafua ‘a e Lulutai’s residence, 42 Dryden Street, Grey Lynn. It opens every Wednesday.
• 1989 – Fofo’anga was as an Incorporated Society.
• 1989 – 1994 – Host Fafangu e Tapu, a weekly Radio Programme – ‘Access Community Radio 810am (Planet FM 104.6).
• 1993-1994 – Record music albums. Fofo’anga band was featured in the ‘Tagata Pasifika’, TV1, TVNZ
• 1996 – ‘Open Door’ a programme hosted by Fofo’anga on TV3.
• 2008 – Fofo’anga Saute recorded hymn and Tongan Kakala songs together with Tonga’s well-known classical solo singer and composer,Tu’imala Kaho.
• 2012 – ‘Fofo’anga Youth and Family Trust’ established.