Message from Tonga Research Association's Chaplain Paula Onoafe Latu

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by Reverend Paula Onoafe Latu

We Thank God the Creator, Sustainer and Redeemer of our sinful souls – who had in a mysterious way led the path of the TRA kalia towards the successful 2013 Conference.

We thank Rev. Dr. Liufau Vailea Saulala for the blessing and opening of the conference, Rev. Liponi Filise for allowing the Church at Tuingapapai for our first event of Po Lotu Fakaava 'o e Konifelenisi 2013 TRA. Pres. 'Ilomaisini lea, Melenaite Taumoepeau, Prof Finua for the inspiring speeches. We thank the three Church choirs FWCT-NZ; Siasi Fakatahataha, and SDA-Misipa who sang with warm hearts to bless the occasion. The presence of Kakala Taumoefolau and the speakers really manifested the presence of all past informants of Tonga history.

We remembered and honored the pioneer members of the THA, Professors, Rev'd. Latukefu, Hau'ofa, Futa Helu, Wood-Ellem, Dr. Kalapoli Paongo, F.O.Kolo, not forgetting Albert Wendt of Samoa, Prof. Crocombe (NZ) and Maude (England) who stood to argue for a space for islanders to provide our versions of our own pasts. We also thought of Prof. Niel Gunson, Dr. Phyllis Herda, Adrienne Kappler, Jennifer Terrell, Rev. Siupeli Taliai, Edgar Tu'inukuafe, Dr. 'O. Mahina and others unnamed who took part in the first Conference of THA in 1987.

We Thank all for the wonderful TRA conference, dialogues, clarifications, sharing and comments. Your attending the TRA 2013 conference, was really an honor for us all, most especially the amateurs of the field, to have been observed and checked by our masters while we tried to learn how to swim in the widest Oceania of the world, already with tumultuous turbulence by its various colonial, philosophical, speculative, theoretic, rational and empirical currents of thoughts and debates. We thank Mafimalanga, and Moala Lahi, Fine Koloamatangi and 'Alisi Latu for performing the Fulitaunga to actually provide the cultural platform for the 2013 TRA.

Wendy, at Olovaha of Fulitaunga and your silence was noble. We really appreciated as in Tongan way, silence is noble. Bill Mackintyre we thank you for your labour to teach students like Palatasa and them to take science. We respect you all non-Tongans who were present in the conference in that way- the comments you all made were really appreciated. Some of you had labored and made the former THA organization to grow into its present TRA stage – we praise God for your efforts.

We were all inspired by 'Ofa Ketu'u on the issue facing our people in regard to offering in the church. Sopolemalama's journey from the pub at K road to become an artists was just amazing. The poems by Karlo, Mepa, Marryane Pale, took us all backward to the future – poems and the way they have been delivered really inspired all. Semisi Taumoepeau for alerting and reporting on the problems about economic and technologies for Tonga. Lita Foliaki and 'Eseta for leading the health team in such a very interesting day to learn more about us and our health. Thank Dagmar and Dr. Billie and Kolokesa, the Matala team for opening up a new chapter for Tongan arts, and to influence our young ones there is a lot there to explore in matters of arts and education. I believe that is the solution to tackle the south Auckland youth violence, teen aged preg. and gangster problems. The young students who showed their talents in speech, poems and language greatly appreciated. Sandra Kailiahi who chaired the first panel really open a worthwhile debate on the issue. 'Emosi and Foliaki for encouraging youths of a way that should be pursued for a better life.

Thanks for the members from USA – Fahina Pasi and Anapesi Ka'ili, and their team for the effort to come and share with us your works. THanks to Dr Tangikina Steen from Australia and who also had to be there on behalf of the President Asinate Samate. Thanks to Uani for making it possible to come from the continent and shared the spirit of Langimalie with us.The two architects Maui and Tomui who presented their works on merging the Tongan architectural skills with the modern were really amazing.

I thank 'Alisi Tatafu for bringing on the youths and the spirit of Tongan history to remind us that youths are the future of the TRA.

I would like to thank Manager Viliami Toafa and the Langimalie teams for manifesting the spirit of Langimalie – the good joyous spirits of the Tongan people". I thank Ika Tameifuna, Sefita Hao'uli, Nalesoni Tupou, Tasi 'Ahio, your supports to have our people aware of our rich history and the ongoing research and investigations by our students are much appreciated. I thank Dr. Timote Vaioleti for leading such a wonderful day on Education. after your leadership, we all felt we wanted to go back to school.

Wendy and Herda you should have watched and experienced the spirit of the conference on the last night Dinner at Fale Pasifika, UOA, where the Puta's old timer band played the banjo, violin, and drum, while 'Okusitino was performing a tau'olunga (inpsired by the red wine – not to let Tu'ungatanga knows). The Tongan university and AIS students performed their lakalaka, and tau'olunga and other items – from which we were all inspired by the spirit of their singing and dancing. thanks guys you really did present to us what the Late Hau'ofa said, "this is what our ancestors had been doing all along."

Appreciation for Sopolemalama Filipe Tohi art works on the Fale Pasifika of UOA. TRA dinner was honored by the presence of Mrs Olaka'aina Vaka of Vai ko Hiva and Talalo Sia, Tangikina, Tisiola Kakala as member of Langimalie Board, Willy Ilolahia, Ika Tameifuna, and Prof Finau, and other guests of honour.

That presentation by the youths was real stuff – I say, that was the practical part of the conference – where things of the past were said, recited, performed, felt, experienced and all were overjoyed and heartily touched with tears by the mood and the message of "WALKING BACKWARD TO THE FUTURE or GOING FORWARD TO THE PASTS.".

I thank Rev. Ifalame Teisi and Rev. Tavake Tupou for reminding all of us that the model for everyone's journey in life is of Jesus Christ and the way he led life as a servant. Thanks Tavake for opening up a dialogue on the chapter of the journey of churches as institutions to seriously considered in our 21st century walk. I totally agree that we need to learn to trust in Jesus and walk alongside him on the waters, as Peter did.

Last but no mean the least, to thank the master President of the TRA Professor Finau, and the Secretary Manase Lua, Gerhard, Pres. Sini Lea, Si'ata, Maka, 'Alisi, Melino for the overall program it was really wonderful how things went smoothly well and every one were very happy. if anyone was not happy, I think he or she came with a different motive and there missed out.

To 'Eseta, Folola, Meliame, Afionga and all the TRA ladies who worked so hard (behind the curtain) to see this conference a success – Malo 'aupito. Thank all the sponsors.

I thank the youngest members of the TRA-NZ 2013 who are babies; Sunborn, Finau, Tuai, and Latu who reminded us that they are the future of our society and that they are our TRA treasures. They are here at present to remind us, as I believe, at any given moment of time, there exist the tripartite framework of Time which is the PAST-PRESENT-FUTURE, IN THIS CHANGING present. The spirits of our ancestors were there in the conference with us, observing quietly what we say and did; the babies members of our TRA are our future were also present; and us all who have presently rowing the kalia forward this year, as this young Tongan artist Kolokesa Mahina-Tuai stated,

"THERE IS A MOANA/PACIFIC BELIEF THAT WE WALK FORWARD INTO THE PAST AND BACKWARD INTO THE FUTURE, BOTH OF WHICH ARE CONSTANTLY MEDIATED IN THE CHANGING PRESENT, WHERE THE PAST IS PUT IN FRONT AS A GUIDING PRINCIPLE AND THE FUTURE, SITUATED BEHIND, IS BROUGHT TO BEAR ON PAST EXPERIENCE." (Matala Festival, 2012).

on behalf of us all, thank you all for your warm hearts that praise God in all aspects we engaged with in our TRA 2013 conference.

Until 2014, we all pray for safe journey.

God Bless us All.

Paula Onoafe Latu.

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