Tongans in New Zealand have a very close cultural tie. Initially ferried by boats lost in deep memories, then came along SPIA and Air New Zealand, now complemented by Air Pacific, Air Polynesia and Tonga’s own Royal Tongan Airlines.
The regional access has seen growth in New Zealand of many Tongan communities, and yet tied closely to original towns and institutions in Tonga. Colleges suchs as Wesley College which its strong methodist link with Tonga have developed a tradition of nurturing island cultures within New Zealand’s Pakeha environment.
Tongans and New Zealand have had a rough time integrating and accepting each other, or so it seems, but there has been a long cooperative work between governments and institutions.
Tongans, still physically close to their homeland, are also closely integrating their ways of living in New Zealand with how they live in Tonga. Children and parents attend their local church services, often adorned with the traditional clothing of respect, which for girls is a kiekie.
Living in a western, monetary economy, causes a number of changes to how things are usually handled back in Tonga. There is a much greater reliance on income generating employment as the groceries are not readily available, since subsistance gardens/plots are not readily accessible for most Tongans.
The ‘groceries’ which were once mostly acquired from the family land (such as root crops, some vegetables) now have to be purchased on a trolley with clean clothing. It would have been the fool to be digging in the gardens with clean clothing back home.
A great amount of meat is still imported to Tonga, and yet there is always an available source from local stock of pigs, hens, cattle. Pigs can be very dirty and raising animals for slaughter is often frowned upon in westernised countries. Pigs may be dirty, but chickens are a real stink, so there are advantages to store bought meats.
Besides, nicely pasticised meat is easier to refrigerate (you pick it out of the freezer to begin with) and for the kids to get to when they need to make their own lunch specials.
[ref: Photographs © and used courtesy of ‘Alipate Ha’angana]