Thursday, September 22, 2011

Ae e fakapikopiko! (redux)

I have to apologise for the lack of action on this blog over the last week: I've been scrambling along the paths of 'Eua Island, a place where internet cafes are as scarce as glaciers. I was back in Nuku'alofa last night to watch the World Cup clash between Tonga and Japan, a game which left roosters and dogs, let alone drunken Tongans and palangis, in a state of supernatural excitement. I'll be home tomorrow, so normal service will soon resume.

In the meantime you could always check out the previews of Tongan Ark, Paul's Janman's film about 'Atenisi University in particular, and about the messy genius of Tongan society in general. Unlike yours truly, who is always a tourist, no matter where he goes, Paul spent two years in the warm welcoming belly of Tongatapu, teaching Faust and Don Quixote in a sort of palangi Tongan pidgin to the sons and daughters of vanilla farmers.

Here's a quick poem:

Ode to 'Eua

not to the mountains
to their broken-backed creeks
their herds of fattening banyan

but to the lowlands,
to the coconuts shelling
black broken soil,
the pigs impaled
over backyard fires

*

not the royal Red 'Eua parrot
but the common ground dove

14 Comments:

Anonymous Thomas of the terrible puns said...

paul did, did he? how'd he manage to faust that one on them? have we not learnt the lessons of Mister PiP?

12:51 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Paul is part of a Tongan intellectual movement which wants to teach the Greeks as well as Polynesians a thing or two...

cultural relativism and postmodernism have no place!

break down all petty barriers!

4:03 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

richard taylor just wrote this on another thread

Maps doesn't need any Global warming as he's (I believe or guess) in a bloody hot, humid and terrible place called Tonga or somewhere...

The Islanders are mostly living right here in Auckland to get awy from what is a pretty boring existence. Most of theem are dangerously overweight...

I know as I live where there is a huge Polynesin population. Even 12 yearolds or youner as faat .. and imean evry fat. It is getting like the US here. (Has been for years really.) Too much to eat. Too much junk food. Motorcars everyhwere. Violence. High cirme rates.

Some crazy young jokers fired a gun of some kind at me the other night in Newmarket.

NZ is fucked.

4:12 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ANYONE WHO IS SERIOUS ABOUT 21ST CENTURY ART AND THOUGHT SHOULD GO TO TONGAN ARK AND RIDE THE WAVES OF PAUL'S FILM

NUFF SAID

WATCH IT GET ATENISI THOUGHT OR BE A LOSER

4:19 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

'a pretty boring existence'

you are a racist cunt taylor.
atenisi projects ta and va concepts far beyond your vision-field.

tongan intellectual tradition is deep and majestic

4:20 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Richard is a damn fine poet. Cut him some slack everyone!

11:21 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

"richard taylor just wrote this on another thread

Maps doesn't need any Global warming as he's (I believe or guess) in a bloody hot, humid and terrible place called Tonga or somewhere..."

He was!

I am fixing the spelling

"The Islanders are mostly living right here in Auckland to get away from what is a pretty boring existence."

Just my view, but Auckland is perhaps the biggest Polynesian centre in the world.

I was in Fiji years ago and I couldn't see why anyone would want to live there. It was so hot and humid. I was 24 I think. It had a certain rugged beauty that is true, and the sea (colour and life etc) was incredible on the reefs. But I don't like traveling anywhere very much. Beautiful place but I was always too nervous too enjoy it.

"Most of them are dangerously overweight..."

This is also true (but very many , maybe not most).

"We see really over weight Pacific Islanders all the time..." Yes, we do. Fewer of other ehthnicities. More women than men. But it is a widespread problem. One next door neighbour is Tongan, and the other is Samoan (They are not overweight, and are very nice people.)

"I know as I live where there is a huge Polynesian population. Even 12 year olds or younger as fat .. and I mean VERY fat. It is getting like the US here. (Has been for years really.) Too much to eat. Too much junk food. Motorcars everywhere. Violence. High crime rates."

This is true, but what the cause is I am not sure. Maps could spend a few years living in Otara AMONGST THE WORKERS AND THE PEOPLE and report back to us.*

Perhaps the "NZ is fkd" was a bit over the top but the rest is true.

This doesn't mean I deprecate Polynesian people. I am critcising certain bad habits (over-eating in this case) which are partly due to our Western culture and partly a psycho social problem. I am interested in this as my daughter is doing a PhD in Health Psychology and helped myself ad my son to lose weight.

I think though that I am putting weight back on. But my son's BMI is excellent.

That "Greek" University over there is interesting though I have to concede...Ted might be able to get a job there...

*Mao Tse tung, taking a leaf out of J. R Kennedy's "book", advised cadres to "Go where it's hardest" but that could also mean either, Otara or Mangere etc, Auckland Uni or say Remuera! Or join the National Party to subvert it...

12:10 am  
Anonymous Scott said...

The southern part of Tonga, which is the only part of the country I have visited so far, has a very different climate to that of Fiji.

On the island of Tongatapu, where the capital Nuku'alofa is located and where 70% of the nation's population lives, temperatures in the winter months tend to range from the late teens to the early twenties; in the summer they're only a few degrees higher. Humidity is relatively low.

On 'Eua, the thinly populated high island to the east of Tongatapu, temperatures are cooler still, dropping into the low teens during winter nights.

Tonga is a very spread out place, and in its northern islands, which are closer to Samoa than to Nuku'alofa, the climate is much hotter and stickier. In the south, though, the climate is almost perfect, from my point of view - warmer than New Zealand, but less oppressive than that of more equatorial Pacific countries.

To me, the Pacific is a sort of continent, with as much cultural diversity as Europe or Asia. Tongan history and culture is very different from Samoan, let alone Fijian, let alone Rapa Nui, culture and history.

And Tongan culture is very much alive to the currents of contemporary palangi thought, and very much up for a dialogue, as the aesthetics of Okusi Mahina, the philosophy of Futa Helu, the historiography of Sione Latukefu, the stories of Epeli Hau'ofa, the poems of Konai Helu Thaman, and the paintings of Glen Wolfgramm show. The question is: are palangi intellectuals up to the challenge of a dialogue?

3:12 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

I see, quite a cooler climate.

My "jibe" was that it seemed that South Auckland etc (with its big Polynesian population) were being neglected.

But I presume you are looking at larger vision of the Pacific.

I was inetredin the idea of that Univesity as can be seen in your post on it, so Anonymous "racist" charge is not totally correct. however, I was a bit glib about things being boring in Tonga...

I suppose I have always lived in a city so cant see how people can not.

'Anon

"you are a racist cunt taylor.
atenisi projects ta and va concepts far beyond your vision-field.

tongan intellectual tradition is deep and majestic" '

Fair enough. I "misfired". I apologise.

I think we all see things from our own enculturation and it takes an effort (as Maps has done) to go to the other traditions etc. Again I didn't mean to belittle Tongan traditions (I was being a bit tongue in cheek about Maps's "disappearance"... but "racism" is a complex and fraught subject. We are all in some degree xenophobic.

The rest is valid by Anon (but it helps to know who one is talking to) and I have been interested in Maps ideas (about the University of Tonga etc and Pacific culture and or "socialism" or communalism etc) and how this can relate to critique of Socialism. I see from the Thompson book that one term is "Mechanical Marxism" and that is more or less what I have always critiqued. Thompson tried to look at India as (an insiration?) (he was depressed at what he saw in the Indian Government (Indira Ghandi at the time) but what about what the people were doing there? His father had been interested in Indian Nationalism and culture); so now, in a similar way, what can we (Palagis and others) learn from Tonga and other parts of the Pacific.

The (usually Pakeha or Palagi) Left are relatively silent about events and the possibilities of learning from them - in the Pacific.

3:29 pm  
Blogger Paul Janman said...

Thomas, which lesson of Mister Pip are you referring to? 'Atenisi was always about cultural exchange - both/and not either/or. The primary value was always truth. Futa was, to use a term of Slavoj Zizek's - a 'universal exception', a proponent of objectivity and infinite complexity at the same time. in this sense, Futa both was and wasn't a post-modernist.

Anonymous, thanks for your kind words and please get in touch: pj@echoz.net as we'll be having a preview screening of Tongan Ark in November.

12:24 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe you, Richard, should've asked Scott before you ran off the mouth....about something your tunnel-visioned mind don't know anything about...
And your back-pedalling effort is a bit lame and too late..
Thank you Scott for the informed thread...

5:43 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe you, Richard, should've asked Scott before you ran off the mouth....about something your tunnel-visioned mind don't know anything about...
And your back-pedalling effort is a bit lame and too late..
Thank you Scott for the informed thread...

5:49 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

Maybe I shouldn't have been born. (I will try to rectify that defect in myself.) Thank you for your support Anonymous The Great and your Courageous Anonymity when you attack me - I am so humble bumbled. You are so wise so good so deep and so informative I fall in amazement and deep (nay TOTAL) abjection and slobbering debasement before you...

8:05 pm  
Blogger Paul Janman said...

Tongan Ark will have its World Premiere as part of the New Zealand International Film Festival at Sky City Theatre on August 4th at 4.15 pm. http://www.nzff.co.nz/film/d884cbe0-d1aa-40d0-9435-fe259a21f9fc

Included is a live performance by the 'Atenisi Foundation for Performing Arts and a free panel discussion, performance and drinks at the Civic Wintergarden afterwards. Tickets go on sale this Friday. Discounted group bookings are available.

Follow us on facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Tongan-Ark/121780031235309

See also the Tongan Ark website: www.tonganark.net

Hope to see you all there. Malo! Paul

10:12 am  

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