600 pigs, 5000 baskets of food for Royal Taumafa Kava ceremony

King Tupou VI receives a bowl of kava at the Taumafa Kava ceremony for his official birthday celebrations. Pangai Lahi, Nuku’alofa, Tonga. 29 June 2024. Photo: Matangi Tonga.

Before dawn Saturday, the King’s matapules, who had travelled from near and far, gathered at Pangai Lahi, next to the Royal Palace in Nuku’alofa, to prepare for a spectacular traditional Taumafa Kava (Royal Kava Ceremony), and not even the rain would dampen their spirits. 

Starting at 7:00am, the two-hours long Royal Kava ceremony not only celebrated the King’s 65th birthday but was also the ‘Pongipongi Hingoa’, a traditional confirmation of the new holder of the hereditary noble title, Lord Ma’afu. 

King Tupou VI took his seat in the royal shelter at the head of the kava circle, where his matapules, dressed in white, were seated cross-legged in the early morning dew.  

Then, a few moments before the King received the first cup of kava, a gloomy sky covered Pangai and down came the rain with a few rumbles of thunder overhead. 

However, the ceremony was sacred and successfully performed. The large crowd from Ma’afu’s kainga and estate of Vaini sat still while the nobles and matapules carried on with the occasion. The newly installed Lord Ma’afu (Tevita ‘Unga Tangitau Ma’afu) received confirmation of his title, and also paid homage to the King, the Olovaha, at Pangai. 

Some 600 pigs, and 5000 baskets of food were presented at the Taumafa Kava. 

Tevita ‘Unga Tangitau was appointed by HM King Tupou VI to the hereditary noble title, “Ma’afu Tukui’aulahi”, during a ceremony on 4 April 2023 at Vaini. 

He suceeds his father, the late Lord Ma’afu (born Siosaia Lausi’i) and former Deputy Prime Minister, who passed away in December 2021. 

His mother was the late Princess Lavinia-Mata‘o Taone, a first cousin of King Tupou VI. 

Lord Ma’afu is head of the Ha’a Havea (clan) with Tongatapu estates including Vaini and Tokomololo. 

Lord Ma’afu is married to Lady Sela Ma’afu and they have six children.

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