Kaniva Tonga entertainment releases first song in memory of granddaughter

Vakai ki he konga taupotu ki he ngata'anga 'o e peesi ni 'oku 'i ai 'a e fakamatala faka-Tonga ki he hiva pehē ki he ongoongo ko 'eni.

Kaniva Tonga Entertainment today released a single in memory of its director’s first granddaughter who died on March 31.

Nalani ‘Elisiva Lēsina Lātū, was the first granddaughter of Kalino Lātū, who is also the founder and editor of Kaniva Tonga News.

Nalani was born on March 17, 2017 to Dayna and Nicholas Lātū, the third son of Kalino and Patelesia Lātū.

As a first mokopuna for the Lātū family, there was great joy and sense of jubilation which continued to occupy them after welcoming the newborn.

But not long after she was born Nalani became sick. At one point her illness became serious and she had to be admitted to hospital.

Then bad news came. Her parents were told Nalani would not live for more than two years.

She suffered from a deadly and rare disease known as spinal muscular atrophy or SMA. The disease affects the motor nerve cells in the spinal cord, taking away the ability to walk, eat, or breathe. It is the number one genetic cause of death for infants.

There is no cure for the disease.

Click here to listen to the song: Talita-kumi

“We were still holding out hope that Nalani could be cured,” Kalino Lātū said.

“It was a devastating situation because even though we were hopeful, we knew there was no treatment for her sickness.

“The most heart-breaking moment was when I and my wife visited her in hospital after her admission and found out Nalani was breathing with the aid of a machine.

“When she was discharged from hospital she came home with the machine and this caused us great discomfort and distress because we knew we had to accept the situation.

“I really felt for my son Nicholas when I saw him looking after her daughter while she was struggling to breathe through the machine,” Kalino said.

Nicholas left his study at Unitec and his part time job so he could stay and help look after Nalani.

On the night she died her parents were in the living room while Kalino was in his office doing some work. The door was open and he could hear Nalani’s breathing and could tell she was in difficulty.

“I came out and told Nicholas to take her to hospital, but she died on the way,” Kalino said..

“That was the last time I saw my granddaughter alive.

“I found it really hard in all fronts to see my six children especially my two daughters, Maria Angelica ‘Elisiva Jr and Malia Lēsina Kelela Jr Lātū who were so devastated and could not compose their emotion when the bad news came. They really loved our little princess.”

Kalino said Kaniva Entertainment was happy to share the newly recorded song with Kaniva Tonga’s followers as part of their love for Nalani.

The song

The song is called ‘Talita-kumi’ which is Tongan for the Aramaic words ‘Talitha Kumi or Talitha koum; which used by Jesus when he raised Jairus’s daughter from the dead (Mathew 9:23).

It said Jesus took the girl by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum!” which means “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”

“I composed the song when Nalani was still alive with an intention of using it for fund raising so we could take her to the United States to seek treatment after I found out a treatment for the disease was being tested there,” Kalino said.

“It was recorded on March 26 but Nalani died on the 31st. So we returned to the studio on Monday and re-recorded the song with a few changes I made to reflect her death.

“Tongan composition has certain rules and procedure to follow and this song, including my other compositions set to be released by Kaniva Tonga soon, followed these rules.”

For instance, in Tongan songs like this where the punake or the composer is composing about death the expression of feelings was sometime required to be metaphoric and figurative.

“Instead of saying her mother and father were deeply heartbroken I metaphorically wrote that the “‘Esi ‘o Stranolar” has been aching of love. Stranolar in Mt Roskill, Auckland was where Nicholas and Dayna lived with their daughter.

The songs also refers to some places in Nicholas’s birthplaces in Tonga including Mahamaha, our residence in Koloua ‘o Kolomotu’a, Tofoa as well as the Halamaumau Koula.

“Using the phrase “Talita-Kumi” made the song interesting in the Tongan context because of its newness to Tongan listeners,” Kalino said.

“It also creates curiosity in the listeners to ask about its meaning. The word Talita-Kumi is short, but it explains a great story about how Jesus made miracles. So, poetically, this is a good use of heliaki, in this song. It just like saying I wish that Jesus was here to cure my granddaughter.” In Tongan the song says: “Faka’amu ange mai ko ha Talita-Kumi,” in the beginning of the second verse.

The song was sung by Kalino’s daughters ‘Elisiva and Kelela. Their names were part of Nalani’s name. ‘Elisiva was the lead singer. It was recorded at the Manuka Studio in Orewa by Mike McCarthy, where Kalino recorded his first album in 2001.


The release of the single tonight on Youtube and the Kaniva News website marked a huge milestone in the operation of Kaniva Tonga News and Entertainment, which was established in 2009 in New Zealand.

Before that Kalino was a guitarist and lead singer in their local kava club. He was a Tongan composer who was strongly involved in the Tonga National Music Commission singing competition in Tonga before he moved to New Zealand in 2004. He won most of his competition and at one stage he was awarded the best composer of the year by Tu’imala Kaho, a well-known Tongan soloist and composer.

When he established the Kaniva Tonga News and Entertainment in Auckland he said it was creating a platform to give wider audiences in the Tongan community and elsewhere his experiences and skills in teaching and musician through internet.

Kaniva’s news service is recognised internationally and his stories are regularly picked up by local, regional and international media like the BBC.

The release of the single meant the entertainment part of the work had reached a new milestone.

The main points

  • Kaniva Tonga Entertainment today released a single in memory of its director’s first granddaughter who died on March 31.
  • Nalani ‘Elisiva Lesina Latu, was the first granddaughter of Kalino Latu, who is also the founder and editor of Kaniva Tonga News.
  • The song is called ‘Talita-kumi’ which is Tongan for the Aramaic words ‘Talitha Kumi; which Jesus raised Jairus’s daughter from the dead (Mathew 9:23).


  1. Kuo tuku ange atu ‘e he kau tāme’a Kaniva Tonga ‘enau ‘uluaki hiki hiva ‘a ia ko e fo’i hiva eni ko hono fakamanatu ‘a e mate e fuofua mokopuna ‘enau talēkita mūsika ‘i Mā’asi ‘aho 31. Ko Nalani ‘Elisiva Lēsina Lātū ko e fuofua mokopuna ia ‘o Kalino Lātū ko e faunitā ia mo e ‘ētita ‘o e Ma’u’anga Ongoongo Kaniva Tonga. Na’e fanau’i ‘a Nalani ‘i Mā’asi ‘aho 17, 2017 ‘e Dayna mo Nicholas Lātū, ko e foha ia hono tolu ‘o Kalino mo Patelesia Lātū.

    Kaekehe ne te’eki lava hano ta’u kuo ne puke ‘o mahino mei fale mahaki ko hono mahaki ‘oku ‘ikai lava ia ‘o faito’o pea ko e mate kuopau ‘i loto he ta’u ‘e ua. Ko e tā na’e o’o fau pea fakamamahi ka ne pau ke tali ‘e he fāmili ‘a e tu’unga ko ia he ‘oku pule ‘a e taha kehe. Na’e iku ‘o mate ‘a Nalani he ‘aho 31 Ma’asi 2018 ‘oku toe pe ‘aho ‘e 17 pea ne ta’u taha.

    ‘Oku ui ‘a e fo’i hiva ko e Talita-Kumi ko e faka-Tonga ia ki he lea faka-‘Alameki na’e lea ai ‘a e ‘Eiki Toetu’u ko Sēsū Kilisitoo he’ene fokotu’u ‘a e ‘ofefine ‘o Sailusi mei he mate (Mātiu 9:23). ‘Oku pehē na’e ala ‘a Sēsū ki hono nima pea folofola atu: “Talita koum!” ‘a ia ‘i hono liliu ki he lea ‘Ingilisi na’e peheni “Ta’ahine, ‘oku ou fekau kiate koe ke ke tu’u!” pea na’e tu’u ‘a e ta’ahine mei he mate.

    ‘Oku hā ‘i he fa’u ‘a Kalino kamata’anga ‘o e veesi ua ‘a e lea ni ‘o pehē – Faka’amu ange mai ko ha Talita-kumi. Ko e faka’anaua pehē ange mai na’e hoko ha mana pehē kae lava ke fakamo’ui e sino ‘o Nalani.
    Ko e hiva ni ko ha tangilaulau ‘a Nicholas Lātū he mate ‘a hono ‘ofefine. Pea ko e kakano ‘o e hiva ko e a’usia mo’oni ‘a e punake ‘i he taufa ne tō tonu ‘i hono loto fale.

    Na’e fa’u mo fakafasi pea hiki tu’uangafasi ‘a e hiva ni ‘i ‘Aokalani, Nu’u Sila ‘i ‘Epeleli 2018 ‘e Kalino Lātū. Na’e hiva’i ‘e he tāme’a ‘uhila ‘a e Kaniva Tonga ‘o solo’i ‘e Maria Angelica ‘Elisiva Jr Lātū kae hiva ‘ōloto ‘a hono ta’okete ko Malia Lēsina Kelela Lātū. Ko e ongo ‘ofefine pe ‘eni ‘o Kalino ka ko e ongo tuofefine foki ‘o Nicholas pea ko e ongo mehikitanga ia ‘o Nalani. Na’e hiki ‘a e hiva ni he ‘aho 9 ‘o ‘Epeleli 2018 ‘i he Manuka Studio ‘i Orewa, Nu’u Sila.

    ‘Oku ‘ikai ngofua ke hiki tatau ‘a e hiva ni ‘i ha fa’ahinga founga pe ta’e ma’u ha ngofua mei he Kaniva Tonga.

    Kiliki heni ke ke fanongo ai ki he hiva: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OtE4WisQZ08


    ‘Isa e tā koe fakapō ‘e Funga Rangitoto
    Kuo hoko hoto kafo ko hoto no’o loto
    Nalani e ke ke ‘ilo si’ete fe’ao
    ‘O aho eni pō mo’ete ‘ofa loto

    Faka’amu ange mai ko ha tālita-kumi
    Kae lelu si’i tangi ‘a e Hala Toamui
    Halamaumaukoula kuo mokulu e fā
    He taufa kuo lapa he funga Mahamaha

    Si’oto lei koula kuo tō ‘i manavanga
    Kae langa ‘i he ‘ofa e ‘Esi ‘o Stranolar
    Tuku ai ā ke u fua pe ‘e iku ki he hā
    ‘Eku mate ‘ofa ‘aku ‘i ho fofonga

    © Kaniva Tonga Entertainment 2018


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