Saturday, February 28, 2009

Well, the time surrounding the General Fono was generally a hectic time for most people; preparing the food, making shell necklaces, fans and bags to decorate the meeting house, and finding accommodation for all of the visitors and special guests. It was a quiet time for us; we didn’t hear a peep from anyone for a week or so, and on Saturday it all came clear why.
Saturday was a long day for many!

The main celebrations kicked off at about 11.30am, with a church service, plenty of singing, and many speeches… don’t ask me what they were about! The only one I could understand was from the NZ Administrator of Tokelau, David Bateman.
He and his entourage of Government Advisors arrived on the boat from Samoa that morning. I felt so sorry for them, having to endure that 30hr boat trip and then having to sit in the heat and endure the long day… that was until I heard that on their boat they each had a cabin with air conditioning and proper beds!

Throughout the next several hours, choir and dance groups from the three atolls presented musical items and gifts to the new Faipule, Foua. It was interesting to see that each atoll presented him with $NZ attached to a large wreath. He and his wife, Logo, also each received what I assume was a large polished clam shell and along with grass skirts.

Then, because Foua has a seat on the Samoan Government, Samoa presented both he and each of the elders with enormous ceremonial mats, a large box of corned beef and the very raw looking hind legs of a cow… I knew it was a cow because of the hooves! I’m not sure which was the most impressive of the gifts actually; I just hoped the NZ Administrator of Tokelau shared his corned beef with his advisors!

After the ceremony there was a shared dinner for everyone. It was a good chance for Matt and I to get a feel for Tokelau cuisine. There were a couple of bowls of coleslaw, but the majority of the food was meat: pork, pork fat, chicken drum sticks, fatty corned beef and delicious raw marinated tuna, by far my favourite! We were very pleased when the lashings of ice cream came around!


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