Monday, February 12, 2018

Monu'ia Big Mama!


Cyclone Gita nears Tonga tonight, endangering not only people & fale but entire islands. I'm thinking of Ana 'Big Mama' Emberson, who with her husband is custodian of Pangaimotu, an atoll rich in history & poor in size. In 2014 Cyclone Ian turned part of the island to desert. 
Pangaimotu was home to a famous temple where chiefs came to hear kava-drunk priests ventriloquise the gods. Beach rock was quarried for royals' monumental tombs; cuttings can still be seen at low tide. Cook anchored at the island; Pompallier held Tonga's first Catholic mass there.
For all its history, though, Pangaimotu is barely a quarter of a square kilometre in size. It's one of a score of atolls that adorn Nuku'alofa harbour. When storms come the islands list like holed ships. In 2014, Monuafe atoll sunk completely below the waves.
Monu'ia Big Mama!

4 Comments:

Blogger Jennifer Compton said...

I came upon your Homage To Tongan Poets in BNZP and that's how I found your blog. Such a trenchant and moving poem. And now I have seen news of Gita. Timing can sometimes be so - timely.

kind regards - Jennifer Compton

3:45 pm  
Anonymous Scott Hamilton said...

Thanks for your kind words Jennifer. I've been a lazy with the blog lately, but am twittering away - it's a format that suits having small kids!

2:25 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

I just read an interview with Alistair Paterson in the latest PNZ Review and Jennifer Compton's name was mentioned. Also I saw her name in 1985 when I got Morrsaey's 'The New Fiction'

Indeed that is a good poem Scott. It was on here first wasn't it?

All the best to both.

1:28 am  
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