The death of Princess Lavinia Mata ‘O Tāone has revealed how a composer of a song maintained her friendship with the princess in the deepest Tongan cultural form of respect.
The late Lavinia ‘Alofaki Fīnau Tupetaiki was “a very best friend” of the Princess.
Tupetaiki composed a love song for the Princess.
The song was called ‘Ēseni e Vaomapa’.
The song expressed the respect and love Tupetaiki had for the Princess she deeply adored and cherished.
It was first sung and recorded in Australia by Tongan prominent singer Nanisē Lomu.
Tupetaiki’s first cousin, Augustine Mo’ungaloa, said he was once sent by Tupetaiki with an uncle to deliver a letter to the Princess in Nuku’alofa.
Before he went he was closely instructed by Tupetaiki in the way how he should behave when he greeted the Princess.
This included sitting down and greeting the Princess from the ground.
“If the Princess told me to stand up Tupetaiki told me I have to remain sitting,” Mo’ungaloa said.
When Mo’ungaloa reached the Princess’s residence he did exactly what he had been told to do.
But the Princess forced him to stand up. When Mo’ungaloa insisted that he was told to remain sitting, the Princess told him to tell Tupetaiki that she could be in charge in her house, but when it came to the Princess’s house, it was Tāone who was going to make decision.
The Princess successfully asked Moungaloa to stand up and she told two of her servants to prepare a breakfast for him.
They sat with Mo’ungaloa at a round table and while Mo’ungaloa was eating his breakfast the Princess wrote a letter of reply to Tupetaiki.
When the Princess finished writing the letter and Mo’ungaloa finished his breakfast the Princess told the servants to give two cans of breakfast crackers to Mo’ungaloa.
When Mo’ungaloa arrived back home he was asked by Tupetaiki to explain about his meeting with the Princess.
The report went well after explaining how he remained seated while he was greeted by the Princess, but when it came to gift of cans of breakfast crackers, Tupetaiki became furious.
She told young Mo’ungaloa to move closer to her before she repeatedly slapped his face and scolded him.
Tupetaiki told Mo’ungaloa it was culturally disrespected of him to take food from the Princess.
This is the notion of the commoners culturally having the duty to prepare and provide food for the royals and it was a taboo for them to eat any food from the house of the royals.
Tupetaiki told Augustine’s father to go and return the cans of crackers to the Princess’ servants and never let the Princess knew about it.
Mo’ungaloa laughed when he shared his story with Kaniva News, saying he was honoured to be slapped in his face by his aunty’s daughter or ‘eiki maama, a position which is culturally regarded as a woman with the highest social status.
Mo’ungaloa said he remembered the Princess as a woman with a good character.
Her father Lūpeti Fīnau was a very best friend of the Princess’ uncle, Late King Tupou IV and they went to school in Newington College in New South Wales.
As Kaniva News reported, Princess Tāone died in Auckland on Friday, June 24. She was laid to rest in Tokomololo this afternoon.
The song ‘Eseni e Vaomapa: