HRH Queen Mother Halaievalu Mata'aho accompanied by her only daughter HRH Princess Pilolevu

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Ian Stehbens on July 12, 2008

HRH Queen Halaievalu and HRH Princess Pilolevu were watching the presentation of mats and tapas by the women from one of the villages, and we were all very amused by the orator making the presentation speech.

Annually the women of every village vie with each other in a fun way, to present their gifts of gratitude to God, by bringing their gifts of mats and tapas, the work of their human hands, to the church at the annual conference. This presentation was made in the presence of the Queen.

The Nobles' representative who receives the gifts in the cultural way, had remarked as an aside to the spokeswoman, "Make it short" prior to her speaking. She being an elderly woman, and very much older than the noble, responded defiantly: "When did you determine when the sun rises and sets?" and on that theme she developed her speech of gratitude to God, for He made everything that is, and He gave us the privilege of living in the cosmos, and He determines the day and the night, and there is nothing but gratitude that should flow from us... and these gifts are an expression of our gratitude.... And she rubbed it in with the notion that as a representative of the Nobles, his role was to preserve the Tongan way, and he therefore should honour his elders, for age is to be honoured even more than rank! The commoner, the woman, won on points and her boldness reinforced the humour.

And HRH the Queen was amused.

A priceless moment.

Marilyn Whiteley on July 12, 2008

Beautiful story as well as photo, Ian!


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Photo details

  • Uploaded on July 11, 2008
  • © All Rights Reserved
    by Ian Stehbens