Dies for another
Dies for another
In 1797, Tukuaho became the Tuikanokupolu. Because he had the title of Tuikanokupolu he was the supreme chief of Tonga. Tukuaho was a cruel man. After two years of his rule two chiefs of Vavau, Finau ‘Ulukalala and Tupouniua, decided that they would assassinate Tukuaho on the night of the ‘Inasi ritual.
The plan was for Tupouniua to go into the house of Tukuaho at night with a club. Because many people slept in the same room with Tukuaho and because it was going to be quite dark, Tupouniua planned to find Tukuaho because of Tukuaho’s smell. This was possible because Tukuaho was rubbed with a special oil before he slept.
If one knew the smell of the oil then he could identify that it was Tukuaho just from the smell.
On the night of the ‘Inasi, Finau ‘Ulukalala waited outside of Mu’a (the village where Tukuaho lived) while Tupouniua went into Mu’a with his club. Their plan to kill Tukuaho would have worked perfectly except there was one problem: Tukuaho had a servant named Kepa Falekaono who knew of Tupouniua’s plan. Kepa Falekaono was the friend of Tupouniua so he had a difficult choice. If he warned Tukuaho, Tupouniua would die, if he did not warn Tukuaho then Tukuaho would die. You and I would have been forced to choose between these two choices. But Kepa Falekaono came up with a third choice: when Tukuaho went to sleep that night, Kepa Falekaono took the bottle containing the oil for Tukuaho, then he rubbed that oil on himself and lay down next to Tukuaho. Ask yourself, how did Kepa Falekaono feel as he lay there next to Tukuaho waiting for Tupouniua to come and knock his brains out?
Tupouniua came into the house with his club, smelling among the sleeping bodies looking for Tukuaho. When he came to Kepa Falekaono, he recognized the smell as the smell of Tukuaho, so he clubbed his friend to death. Kepa Falekaono’s plan would have worked, but Tukuaho awoke and cried out, “Ko hai oku i hena? Ko au ko Tukuaho! (Who is there? It is I Tukuaho!)” Tupouniua knew immediately that he had killed the wrong person. Then he clubbed Tukuaho to death.
This is a poem about Kepa Falekaono:
Tau fei mo fevale’aki
Let us speak and be happy,
(Another version of this story says that everyone in the house of Tukuaho was murdered by Tupouniua and his warriors. A chief from Vavau named Kepa Falekaono, knew in advance of the attack but went to the house anyway because he thought that Tupouniua and Finau ‘Ulukalala would not attack if they knew that he was there. They attacked the house anyway. I do not know which version of this story is true.)
This is our next story. Once there was a Tu’itonga named Havea who lived about 600 years ago. Havea was murdered while he was taking his bath in the sea. The people who murdered Havea cut his body in half and they threw both halves into the sea. The top half of Havea’s body washed onto the shore and was found by some kalae birds which pecked at his face. For that reason there is a beach in Tongatapu named Houmakalae because that is where the kalae birds pecked at Havea’s face. The bottom half of Havea’s body was never found.
At this same time there was chief who lived in Folaha, Tongatapu who was named Lufe. Lufe was the chief of Havea’s mother’s family. When Lufe heard what had happened to Havea he went to his relatives and said, “The Tuitonga has died a bad death, we only have the top half of his body to bury him. Kill me and cut me in half. Put my legs with Havea so that he will be buried with legs.”
So Lufe’s relative killed him and cut him in half. They put his legs with Havea’s body. Havea is buried with legs but the legs are Lufe’s not Havea’s.
I told the story of Lufe once to a friend of mine. At the end of the story he asked me, “Did Lufe think that he would come back to life again?” I replied, “I don’t think so.” My friend said, “Well, Lufe was dumb.” I thought about what my friend said. I think that he was wrong. You see, it has been hundreds of years and we still remember Lufe. He has not been forgotten.
Neither Lufe or Kepa Falekaono ever came back to life again. But because they were willing to give up their lives for others, we remember their names even though they died hundreds of years ago. They live forever in our memories because of the good that they did for others.
Gifford, Edward Winslow. Tongan Tales
Revised: February 26, 1996
Copyright © 1996 Daniel (Taniera) Longstaff