Te Kete Ipurangi Navigation:

Te Kete Ipurangi

Te Kete Ipurangi user options:

You are here:

Ko e Fono'

by Lesieli Kupu MacIntyre

Ko e fono' supports the following units from Faufaua!

  • Unit 5 Lau Mata‘ifika' / counting
  • Unit 6 Fakamatala‘i ‘o ha Fa‘ahinga Me‘a / describing Things

Text features

Language features

The language features of this story include:

  • use of lea fakamatāpule (polite level of language) and lea tavale (everyday language), for example, lea fakamatāpule when the leader says: Mālō ho‘omou lelei ki he pongipongi' ni / good morning, everyone; and the older man says: Fakamālō atu he vahevahe mai ho fala/thanks for sharing your mat; and then lea tavale when the narrator tells the story from his point of view: Pea u ‘alu ki he loki ‘o Nena' / I go to Nena’s room
  • use of prepositions of direction, for example, ki he fono /to the fono'; ki he ‘aisi' / into the fridge; ki he holo ‘o e ‘apiako'/to the school hall
  • descriptors placed after the word being described, for example, ‘ū ongoongo fakamāhina/news monthly (monthly news); fo‘i ‘apele kulokula fuolahi/apple red big (big red apple); he konga ‘e fā / pieces four (four pieces)
  • use of formulaic expressions, for example, kātaki/sorry; vave!/quick!; tūlou / excuse me; mani/phew; tama ni!/yum!; me‘a ifo mo‘oni! / delicious!
  • use of possessive phrases to indicate ownership, for example, ‘o e ‘apiako' / of the school; e taki ‘o e fono' / the fono leader
  • use of the definitive accent to indicate specificity – a particular item rather than the generic, for example, Ko e Fono' / the Fono (a specific fono rather than any fono); Fakamālō atu he vahevahe mai ho fala / thanks for sharing your mat (this particular mat)   
  • use of pea to indicate the next action to take place, for example, Pea foki ‘a Nena ki hono loki'. Pea u ‘alu ki he loki ‘o Nena' / Nena returns to her room. I go to Nena’s room
  • use of a range of adjectives, for example, hela‘ia/tired; lelei/good; faka‘ofo‘ofa/attractive; kulokula/red 
  • use of fo‘i as the generic term for fruit, followed by the word that defines it as a particular type of fruit, for example, fo‘i siaine / banana; fo‘i ‘apele kulokula fuolahi / a big red apple; fo‘i mango / mango (The English names “kiwifruit” and “passionfruit” follow a similar form.) 
  • use of words transliterated from English, for example, holo/hall; ‘aisi/ice, fridge; ‘apele/apple
  • similarity of the words fanongonongo/notices and ongoongo/news and the associated word fanongo/hear, with the Māori word whakarongo/listen.

Cultural features

The cultural features in this story include:

  • the protocols followed at fono (see below), with most people sharing seating space on large, rectangular mats (people who arrive late or have difficulty sitting low down will sit on chairs at the back of the room) and wearing formal dress (‘Oku ou tui fakavave hoku vala lelei', helu hoku ‘ulu', pea u ‘alu ki he loki ‘o Nena'. ‘Oku tui ‘e Nena hono kofu faka‘ofo‘ofa/I quickly put on my good clothes, comb my hair, and go to Nena’s room. Nena is wearing her best dress). Some people wear tupenu (lavalava, wraparound skirts) and ta‘ovala (fine mat wrapped around the waist), and Nena is wearing a kiekie (an ornamental string-skirt girdle attached to a waistband) over her best dress
  • the reciting of a lotu and then Lotu ‘a e ‘Eiki'/the Lord’s Prayer at the start of the fono, indicating the importance of Christianity in the Tongan culture
  • the importance of showing faka‘apa‘apa/respect and ‘ofa/love, which are core values in Tongan culture, for example, the narrator goes with Nena to the fono even though he would have preferred to do other things; when he is at the fono, he shows respect by making room for others on his mat; the people who join them on the mat show respect by asking permission to share their mat; and the people showed respect for their religion when they start the fono with the prayers
  • the importance of fevahevahe‘aki/sharing and fetokoni‘aki/helping one another with the sharing of the resources such as the mat space and the fruit (fruit is commonly shared at such events as a sign of thanks)
  • the importance of talangofua/obedience, as shown by the narrator doing what Nena directs him to do.


Fono are the central political structure of a village, district, island, or community and the means by which notices are given, issues are discussed, and decisions are made. Usually, leaders and orators (speech makers) are present at all fono.

Links to the New Zealand Curriculum

Key competencies

Reading and working with KoeFono' could help students develop key competencies set out in the New Zealand Curriculum: Key Competencies


The story illustrates many values that relate to the New Zealand Curriculum: Values and are fundamental to Tongan culture, including the importance of community, faka‘apa‘apa / respect, fevahevahe‘aki/sharing, and fetokoni‘aki/helping one another.

Cross-curricular links

Learners who are working at levels 1–2 in Lea faka-Tonga may be working at higher curriculum levels in other learning areas. You will need to consider this in order to make effective cross-curricular links. Here are three examples of cross-curricular achievement objectives that could be linked to this story:

Health and physical education, Level 4

Relationships with other people

Students will gain knowledge, skills, and experience to:

  • Identify the effects of changing situations, roles, and responsibilities on relationships and describe appropriate responses.

Social sciences, Level 3

Students will:

  • Understand how cultural practices vary but reflect similar purposes
  • Understand how people view and use places differently.

Learning languages: Achievement objectives

Students will:

(Communication strand, relating to selected linguistic and sociocultural contexts)

  • receive and produce information
  • produce and respond to questions and requests
  • show social awareness when interacting with others.

(Language knowledge strand)

  • recognise that the target language is organised in particular ways
  • make connections with their own language(s).

(Cultural knowledge strand)

  • recognise that the target culture is organised in particular ways
  • make connections with known culture(s).

Ko e Fakahinohino ki he Lea Faka-Tonga: The Tongan Language Guidelines, levels 1 and 2

Students should be able to:

  • recognise and express number, time, and location (1.4)
  • express and respond to desires, needs, and preferences (1.7)
  • use language, positioning, and movement to show respect (1.8)
  • offer, accept, and refuse things (2.3).

Learning outcomes

Below are some possible learning outcomes for reading this story. Select from and adapt these to meet the needs of your students and share the outcomes with them.

After reading and working with this story, I will be able to:

  • read the story aloud reasonably fluently, pronouncing all words clearly
  • write texts for particular purposes with appropriate use of macrons, glottal stops, and the definitive accent
  • count a series of objects in lea faka-Tonga
  • describe common objects and identify their importance in anga faka-Tonga
  • retell information, in English, about important aspects of anga faka-Tonga presented in the story.