Tauanga’a: Foreigners clothe their respect for Queen Mother in Tongan culture

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Elsewhere in Tonga, people from other cultures and backgrounds have shown their respect to the Queen Mother’s death by adopting Tongan customs, such as the wearing of tauanga’a.

Wearing the black clothes and ta’ovala tied to the waist with a kafa is one of the highest forms of respect a Tongan can show when attending a funeral.

The wearing of the tauanga’a by non-Tongans at the Queen Mother’s funeral could be interpreted as a show of high respect and esteem.

Almost all Chinese in Tongatapu wore tauanga’a and their stores and homes have been draped and wrapped with black and purple tupenus.

(L-R) One News Correspondence Barbara Dreaver, Raymond Moore and Tangata Pasifika correspondence John Pulu. Photo/John Pulu

Taimi ‘o Tonga reporter Melemanu Bloomfield met some of these Chinese and palangi wearing tauanga’a.

Bloomfield said she was outside at the royal palace when she met two women from Canada.

“They were amazed by our unique tradition”, she told Kaniva News.

Bloomfield said she was emotional when she saw them wearing tauanga’a.

She also met two French people were wearing tauanga’a.

She said one of them had just arrived in the country and had been given a aveave (type of ta’ovala) to wear by her friend who was working in Tonga.

Welcoming of the Matriarch 

Thousands in Tonga today braved heavy rainfall to show their respect for Queen Mother Halaevalu Mata’aho.

School children lined the Taufa’ahau and Tuku’aho roads from Fu’amotu to the Matapā Tapu of the Royal Palace in Nuku’alofa.

The school children bowed their heads in absolute silence during the approach and passing of the funeral cortege.

The matriarch’s body was received at Fu’amotu International Airport by Their Majesties King Tupou VI and Queen Nanasipau’u Tuku’aho, along with other members of the royal family.

Also in attendance were diplomats from several other countries including Hon Fiame Naomi Mata’afa, the Deputy Prime Minister of Western Samoa, His Excellency Epeli Nailatikau and Adi Koila of Fiji, along with King Maori and Makau Ariki Atawhai from Aotearoa.

The body of the deceased Queen Mother was welcomed to the palace by His Majesty’s Armed Forces as they performed a military parade in her honour.

Her vigil tonight began with prayer services conducted by several churches from 6pm till 12am.