Tupou VI invested as king of Tonga

His Majesty, King Tupou VI, was formally installed today as the King of Tonga in a traditional royal kava ceremony at Pangai Lahi in Nukuʻalofa.

The highlight of the ceremony was the king drinks the fuakava (first kava) a traditional honour performed to confirm his entitlement to the kingship.

The 24th Tuʻi Kanokupolu and king of Tonga will be crowned on July 4 at the Centenary Church in Kolomotuʻa.

His Majesty attended the royal kava ceremony at the presence of his nobles and matāpule (heralds), who sat in a circle while commoners sat behind the touʻa (those who prepare the kava) opposite the ‘olovaha or the King.

About 200 heralds and nobles sat at the kava circle, where approximately 100 pigs and 2000 ‘umu kaveitau (cooked foods in green baskets) were presented.

Princess Lātūfuipeka performed the traditional set of hands and head movements called the milolua and fakamuifonua during the preparation of the kava while a Japanese man named Masa Kawasaki took the right to kaifono (fono eater) of his Majesty.

The etiquette of the ceremony asked everyone to be seated before the King arrived at the ceremony and took his designated seat in a special Tongan fale (house).  Once His Majesty was present, the pangai (venue) was declared sacred or taboo.

Only designated heralds and counters were allowed to speak and stand, whilst everyone else had to remain seated during the ceremony.

It was a beautiful sunny day in Nukuʻaofa where everyone in the kava circle including the king wore vala hina (white Tongan formal attire) and taʻovala lōkeha.

Hundred of thousands watched the ceremony from areas surrounding Pangai Lahi including those from around the world who listened to the royal event online.


One of the most significant parts of this year’s royal kava ceremony was the fakatūʻuta, the arrival of various haʻa or clans, with pigs, yams, koloa faka-Tonga (Tongan mats and ngatu), and kava toho.

Once they arrived each clan’s herald spoke in front of the presiding heralds and introduced them before presenting the gifts to the crowd.

Once the clan’s herald, had spoken, Vakalahi, the chief presiding herald thanked them for coming to see the King and congratulating the clans for the efforts they have made to bring gifts for His Majesty.

Because it is culturally unacceptable for Tongan people to talk in their everyday language to, or before the King, the heralds ensured that they spoke to one another in metaphorical and figurative language to maintain the taboo and respect to His Majesty.

This was evident when the Tautahi (clans of late King George Tupou I’s navy from Ha’apai and Vava’u) presented their fakatūʻuta at the royal kava ceremony today.

To demonstrate the clan’s love for the King, Lutui read out by heart a verse from a well-known Tongan song called “Ko ʻEne ʻAfió mo e Kahaʻu ʻo Tongá” (Her Majesty Queen Sālote and the Future of Tonga.) A composition by a well-known Tongan composer, Nausaimone. The song is also popularly known as Pupunga Lose.

The verse contained poetic and figurative phrases as follows:

(translated into English by Faivaola, Dr Eric Shumway).

Cluster of roses decorating the stream of time,

Nurtured in the wake of providential love.

On this proud land, praised by the hymn,

Sweet fortune still rests–the paradise of the Pacific.

This is the substance of my worshipful praise,

The source of all beauty for the Ha’a Tongafisi.

The woman of Halapaini continually smiles in her heart,

In her flows deep the history and culture of the Friendly Islands

The Tongan version:

Pupunga lose teunga e tafengavai ʻo taimi

Tauhia he taʻau ʻo e ʻofa fakapalovitenisi

Pōlepole ai pe motu ʻoku lau ʻe he himi

Kei toka e monū ki he palataisi ʻo e Pasifiki

Tuʻungaʻanga ia ʻe te hūmataviki

He ko e laukauʻanga ʻo Haʻa Tongafisi

Malimali loto ai pe fine ʻo e Halapaini

Tafe sinoʻivai e kalonikali e ʻotu feleniti.

Milolua and Fakamuifonua

There are various sets of movements that follow the straining and mixing of the kava before it is distributed for drinking.

Two well-known sets of movements are used at royal kava ceremonies, fakamuifonua and the milolua.

These movements are elaborate and embrace a long series of graceful movements using both hands and arms.

They are accompanied by a fakateki, moving of the head suddenly as in certain kind of dances or action song.

In today’s kava preparation during the ceremony, it was the king’s daughter, Princess Angelika Lātūfuipeka, who performed the milolua and the fakamuifonua.


The kaifono refers to those who have the right to eat the fono (pigs and yams) presented in the ceremony.

Some of the pigs were dismembered and arranged in the same order they would be positioned were the animals still alive.

The dismembered parts of the pigs are called fono, and were then prepared to be distributed together with yams amongst the kava drinkers.

The actual distribution of the pig’s part follows strict rules.

The back of the pig is the most honourific and important part and it was taken to the King, whereas the head, one hind leg, and one foreleg are preserved for Lauaki and the chiefs, and the matāpule that sat on the leftt side of the circle.

The hindquarters, one hindleg, and one foreleg are presented to those that were on the Motuʻapuaka’s side. The remaining parts of the pig are given to various nobles and heralds in the circle.

The fono was not eaten by those to whom it was given including the king. After it has been distributed certain people who were fahu (a person with a high status )to those to whom the fono has been given come and took it away to dispose of as they like.

They may eat it themselves or give it to whomsoever they will. Usually the fono is eaten before the kava is served.

In today’s celebration the king’s fono was taken by a Japanese person named Masa Kawasaki.

This was because not only the king has no fahu but  it was taboo for a Tongan to eat food that belongs to the King, and therefore a foreigner was assigned to do this job instead.

The kava was distributed for the first time. After the first round of drinking of the kava it was followed by some speeches before Motu’apuaka declared the ceremony came to a close and the king then escorted by soldiers and nobles of Haʻa Lātūhifo clan returned to the palace.

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