Tongans Of Fijian Descent Waste No Time

Members of the Lomaiviti community in Nuku’alofa, Tonga, are wasting no time in getting their lives back on track. This is after the Kingdom of Tonga was ravaged by a
16 Feb 2018 11:42
Tongans Of Fijian Descent Waste No Time
Ratu Peni Kalokalo at his home in Lomaiviti, Tonga yesterday. Photo: WAISEA NASOKIA

Members of the Lomaiviti community in Nuku’alofa, Tonga, are wasting no time in getting their lives back on track.

This is after the Kingdom of Tonga was ravaged by a Category Four Tropical Cyclone Gita on Monday night.

A team from this newspaper travelled to the south of the main island, Tongatapu, 35 kilometres from the capital Nukualofa, to see how a Fijian descendant is coping a few days after of disaster.

“We are not relying on anybody to assist us as we are working within our limits and resources we have on our farms,” said Ratu Peni Kalokalo.

The 85-year-old was born in the community, whose father is an iTaukei from Nabuna, Koro, in Lomaiviti while his mother is Tongan.

Ratu Peni who speaks the iTaukei language fluently, loves to call himself a Kai Viti (native Fijian) rather than a native of the country of birth.

“The roof of our home flew off that night. Since then we have started to rebuild. We completed our house yesterday. We have crops such as uto, tavioka, uvi and taro which were not damaged. That will sustain us in the coming weeks,” Ratu Peni said.

“My daughter-in-law and her mother are weaving mats from the padanus leaves that were lying on the ground. These are some of the things we have.

“We have to make use of it until the plant matures again and that will take some time.”

He recounted the incident as a frightful experience as winds ripped his house rooftop open.

“It was a scary experience that night. We ran from our house to my daughter’s home next door. I have not seen such a disaster in my entire life. It was a big one. I have experienced cyclones before but it was nothing as powerful as this one,’’ Ratu Peni said.

“Lucky the cyclone came in the night. Otherwise if it was during daylight hours there would have been more injuries sustained.

“Lucky no one was injured in our community.

“Seriously we were not prepared for such a strong cyclone like this. But all we knew that a cyclone was coming our way.”

He has six children and grandchildren who are living overseas. The community has a total of 14 households.

“No help has come so far from the government. But we expect that in coming days since the whole country has been affected but we’ll wait if need be,” Ratu Peni said.

He also shared why their community is well known as Lomaiviti in the kingdom.

“Our elders did migrate from Lomaiviti in Fiji and they were mainly from Koro, Gau, Batiki and Levuka (Ovalau) who have all settled here,” he said.

He added a gentleman from Gau had leased the area of eight acres which they occupy while the other side has the descendant from the Solomon Islands.

“When I was a small kid I remember Fijians returning to Fiji. Now I am the only half-caste here with my family,” Ratu Peni said.

He admitted that he knew his roots but had not set foot on his father’s island.

But he hopes to fulfil his dream one day.

Meanwhile, his daughter-in-law, Etita Kalokalo was spotted preparing pandanus leaves with her mother Salote Vakapuna at their home.

“We just have to make use of things that is being damaged, like these pandanus leaves.”

Tuna Harmat, who has links to Fiji through her paternal grandfather, was scared of the event.

She said: “I actually found out what happened on Sunday night the next day,” Ms Harmat said.

“We can only hear the sound of the winds and rattling of the roof but we cannot come out and see.

“The next day I realised it was a cyclone but lucky we did miss Tropical Cyclone Winston in 2016.”

Edited by George Kulamaiwasa


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