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Ko e hā ‘a e Hikingaua?

by ‘Anahina ‘Aipolo Sikalu

Ko e hā ‘a e Hikingaua? supports the following units from Faufaua!

  • Unit 11 Kāinga/extended family
  • Unit 12 Feime‘akai/preparing food
  • Unit 13 Kai fakataha/sharing food

Text features

Language features

The language features in this story include:

  • the markers used to distinguish between singular, dual, and mass plural (three or more people), for example, ho‘o (Ko e hā ho‘o me‘a ‘oku ngaohi?)/your (singular); ongo (‘Oku mo fie vahevahe e me‘akai', ongo tamaiki?)/you (dual); kimoutolu (Ko ‘eni te u vahevahe ‘a e hikingaua faka-Falanisē' mo kimoutolu)/you (plural, three or more); na (‘Oku na tokoni ki he tamai ‘a Sokopeti' ke ta‘o he ‘umu)/they (dual)
  • reliance on context rather than specific words to indicate gender, for example, the third person singular pronoun forms: ia/he, she, or it (singular); hono/his, her; ‘ene/him, her; tamaiki (children). In this text, tamaiki refers to the two girls, and there is no need to specify their gender because they are the only children; however, in other texts, it may be necessary to say tamaiki fefine to specify female children or tamaiki tangata to specify male children
  • use of words transliterated from other languages, for example, from English, Sapate/Sunday (from the word Sabbath), onioni/onions, tēmata/tomatoes, sipi/sheep, taimi/time, kilo/kilo; and from French, Falanisē/Français (French), ngāteau/gâteau (the French word for cake)  
  • use of prepositions of direction, for example, ki peito/into the kitchen; ki he funga la‘i lū/on the taro leaves; ki he sipi' mo e onioni'/over the meat and onions
  • use of possessives, for example, e kainga ‘o Sokopeti' / Sokopeti’s extended family; he ‘api ‘o Sokopeti' / Sokopeti’s house; he tokoua ‘o e fa‘ē ‘a Sokopeti / Sokopeti’s aunt; e kui fefine ‘a Sokopeti' / Sokopeti’s grandmother
  • descriptors placed after the word being described, for example, hono kaume‘a Falanisē/her friend French (her French friend); e kilo ‘e ua / kilograms two (two kilograms); e me‘akai faka-Tonga / food Tongan (Tongan food)
  • use of formulaic expressions, for example, Mālō e tokoni'/thanks for helping; ‘Io/Sure; Ifo/yum; ‘oku ou fiekaia! / I’m starving!
  • use of faka- as a prefix with the word Tonga (faka-Tonga) to indicate something made or done in the Tongan way
  • the words for family members that spell out the exact relationship between the people, for example, fa‘ē/mother; he tokoua ‘o e fa‘ē ‘a Sokopeti/the sister of the mother of Sokopeti (Sokopeti’s aunt); tamai/father; e tokoua e tamai ‘a Sokopeti' / the brother of the father of Sokopeti (Sokopeti’s uncle)
  • the word ako carrying the meaning of to teach and to learn, as in te reo Māori, with both these actions being demonstrated in the story 
  • use of the two past tense markers na‘a (followed by a pronoun) and kuo (indicating a transition of tense from not being to being, or not happening or doing to happening or doing), for example, Na‘a mou vahevahe ‘a e me‘akai faka-Tonga mo au / you shared Tongan food with me; kuo maau ‘a e me‘akai / the food is ready (all the preparations have been completed, and the food is ready to be eaten).

Cultural features

The cultural features in this story include:

  • the preparation of anga faka-Tonga food, including cooking the food in the ‘umu (see below)
  • the importance of fevahevahe‘aki/sharing and fetokoni‘aki / helping one another, which are both shown in the preparation of the meal
  • the importance of showing faka‘apa‘apa/respect, for example, the people show respect for the meal by sitting at the table (eating while standing is bad manners in anga faka-Tonga, and it is polite to eat everything you’re given); the family members talk respectfully to each other, even when asking the girls to help, for example, Sokopeti, ‘e lava ke ke hifi ‘a e onioni' mo e tēmata, kataki? / Sokopeti, can you please cut up the onions and tomatoes?; and the seating arrangements at the dinner tables show both faka‘apa‘apa and fakatu‘utu‘unga/rank – Sokopeti’s father sits at the head of the table with his wife to his right, while at the other end of the table, the grandfather sits with the grandmother to his right.

Anga faka-Tonga: Cooking 

Traditionally, Tongan people had one main midday meal that the men prepared in an ‘umu/earth oven. ‘Umu are essentially like a Māori hāngi. It is thought that men were in charge of this meal because it was hard work preparing the ‘umu. A fire is lit in the bottom of a purpose-dug hole, and rocks are placed on top of the fire to heat up until they are red hot. The fire is then put out; root crops and portions of meat wrapped in banana leaves are placed on top of the rocks; and everything is covered with banana leaves, sacking, and finally earth to seal in the heat.

The food is left to cook for at least an hour (often over the period when the people go to church). These days, people mostly use the traditional ‘umu only for special occasions, such as a family Sunday lunch or a celebration that calls for a feast, and the women are involved in preparing the food, although the men are still in charge of the ‘umu.

‘Ota ika is a raw fish dish, comprising ika (fish), niu taufua (coconut cream), tēmata (tomatoes), onioni (onions), lēmani (lemons), and māsima (salt). Unit 12 offers two versions of a recipe for ‘ota ika. The first version includes a simple set of instructions that will be easier for the students to master and perhaps even memorise. The second version has expanded the instructions to provide a challenging listening activity.

Lū sipi is the dish also known as mutton lū. Lū is the term for both talo leaves and the traditional Tongan dish that is made using those leaves. A lū consists of some form of meat, chopped into bite-sized pieces and wrapped, with coconut cream, onions, and salt, in talo leaves and then banana leaves before being baked in an ‘umu (the banana leaves are discarded after cooking). For more information about lū, see units 9 and 12.

In anga faka-Tonga, fakatu‘utu‘unga is also demonstrated in the choice of foods presented at a function. Green bananas and the root vegetables kumala/kūmara, manioke/cassava, talo/commonly referred to as taro in New Zealand, and ‘ufi/yams are traditional foods that are often served at celebrations or family gatherings. ‘Ufi, as the most valued food, is served to guests.  

Links to the New Zealand Curriculum

Key competencies

Reading and working with Ko e hā ‘a e Hikingaua?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:

Technology, level 3

Technological products

Students will:

  • Understand the relationship between the materials used and their performance properties in technological products.

Characteristics of technology

Students will:

  • Understand how society and environments impact on and are influenced by technology in historical and contemporary contexts and that technological knowledge is validated by successful function.

Social sciences, Level 3

Students will gain knowledge, skills, and experience to:

  • Understand how the movement of people affects cultural diversity and interaction in New Zealand.

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
  • recognise and use appropriate words for family members in lea faka-Tonga
  • link language and cultural practices around food preparation and recipes to their contexts and identify their importance in anga faka-Tonga
  • research and present information, in English, on important aspects of anga faka-Tonga presented in the story.