By Steve Chae: Pacific Media Centre
An outspoken Tongan journalist and publisher has released a new book that speaks directly to Tongan communities in New Zealand about the dilemmas of culture and the global diaspora.
Kalafi Moala’s book, In Search of the Friendly Islands, deals with core issues of violence and a vision towards peaceful change in the Tongan communities both inside and outside of Tonga.
“The title of the book is appropriate because the Tongan communities in New Zealand are still in search of peace and there are no answers yet,” said Rev Epeli Taungapeau, of Manurewa Methodist Church, who was at the book launch at the Onehunga Community Centre last weekend.
He cited the roadside shooting of 17-year-old Halatau Naitoko by police in Auckland earlier this year as an example of violence impacting on the community.
He was concerned about the violence people see in mainstream media, saying: “Tongan communities here have to search for ways to make New Zealand a peaceful island.”
In Tonga, violence has increased related to the struggle for democracy in the only kingdom among Pacific Island countries.
Since 1989, Moala has published a bi-weekly newspaper, Taimi ‘o Tonga (Times of Tonga), criticising the monarchy and advocating democracy.
This was banned for a period in Tonga but Moala continued to publish the paper in Auckland since 1995. It is now based again in the Tonga capital of Nuku’alofa.
Moala has lived abroad extensively in US and New Zealand, but now lives in Tonga. He has observed the diaspora of Tongan communities and the issues they are facing, including violence.
Moala said it was important to ask why this was happening and to think about the alternatives.
He believed it came down to the “character of the man”.
He said that Tongan people’s faith in religion in the time of a “culture of transition” will see Tongan communities move towards peace.
Tongan Advisory Council chair Melino Maka said the people wanted their community media to discuss more proactively all of the issues happening inside and outside of Tonga.
He believed expanding Tongan talkback radio was important as it was the most effective way to channel people’s voices on these issues.
Moala’s book will be launched in Tonga this weekend.
Picture: Tongan broadcaster and community advocate Will 'Ilolahia (right) shares a joke at the book launch. Photo: Del Abcede.
Steve Chae is a student journalist on the Asia-Pacific Journalism course at AUT University.