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7 “SEEKING SELF-PRAISE IMPROVERISHES ONE’S KIN” LIA PASSED AWAY after a prolonged sickness. People said that she died of cancer . Others believed she died because of puke fakatēvolo, an evil spirit that possessed her.No one really knew why she died.One thing was for sure: her funeral was going to be the fourth funeral for our kāingalotu (church kin) within a short span of time. Lia was a member of my kāingalotu, so it was my fatongia (social duty) to take food gifts and give money.I usually donate $40 for funerals of members of my kāingalotu. However, after all the past funerals I could not afford to give $40. I decided to cut my funeral donation in half and give only $20. For a graduate student teaching cultural anthropology part-time, money was tight. On the day my kāingalotu went to present our funeral gifts to Lia’s kāinga, I arrived at my bishop’s home early. As usual, everyone arrived an hour early to help prepare and organize our gifts.We gathered all our koloa (mats,barkcloths, and quilts) and loaded them into a pickup truck, and we placed all our money donations into a single envelope. When I went to put my $20 donation in the envelope, I noticed that people were giving $60 to $100. I felt pressure to give more. Nevertheless, I decided that the best way to make up for my small donation was to donate time and labor to the funeral. Lia’s kāinga (kin) assigned our kāingalotu to provide dinner for one of the failotu (prayer vigil) days.On that day,my wife and I took the day off from work and we cooked all day with members of our kāingalotu at our bishop’s home. “Seeking Self-praise Improverishes One’s Kin” 107 I was not given any food assignment, but I went to help with the cooking. My wife, Liz, and I arrived at our bishop’s home at 10:00 a.m. The only people there were Afe, Tau, ‘Alofa, and our bishop. We started to cook. Liz helped make the lū pulu māsima (corned beef mixed with coconut milk and wrapped in young taro leaves),and I helped ‘Alofa peel the manioc.After that,I cooked the green bananas, and then I helped with barbecuing the chicken and the lamb. We finally finished our cooking at around 5:00 p.m. We prepared 250 plates. The plates contained manioc, hopa (big bananas), lamb, chicken, a sausage, two mussels,and one lū pulu māsima.After we cooked,we all went to Lia’s home to present our food. I felt happy offering my time and labor to Lia’s funeral. Even though I had donated only $20,I felt satisfied that I had fulfilled my fatongia of cooking food for Lia’s failotu. “SI‘I KAE HĀ” (SMALL YET SEEN)1 In the Tongan culture, there are phrases that promote the idea of performing one’s fatongia with whatever resources one can afford. For example, “si‘i kae hā” (small yet seen) conveys the idea that it is important for Tongans to show up at a cultural function and perform their fatongia, even if what they offer is small (Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga [Siasi Uesiliana Tau‘atāina ‘o Tongá, SUTT] 1997, 42; Māhina 2004, 79).2 In the spirit of tauhi vā, it is not necessary to give a lot of money or koloa in order to create and maintain beautiful vā.The form of tauhi vā is still maintained with whatever one can afford, even if it is small. Viliami Toluta‘u explained that “si‘i kae hā” is related to tauhi vā. Tauhi vā, according to Toluta‘u, is done with whatever you have—words, acts, koloa [mats,tapas],or plantation foods,for example.Even though your resources may be small, you still need to show up and help with community, church, and family events. In the past, tauhi vā was accomplished even when people had little money.One or two dollars was enough to successfully practice tauhi vā (Viliami Toluta‘u, personal communication, September 10, 2004). The phrase “si‘i kae hā”conveys the primacy of form in the art of sociospatial relations. The amount of gifts or donations is not important. The symmetrical form of tauhi vā is created and maintained by attending a wedding or funeral with...


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