Tala-E-Fonua, the telling the land and its people, 2021.


Fakamolemole ’a hou’eiki mo ngaahi ha’a

He ’oku mama’o mo faingata’a ’a e fā’anga

Ko e tolutalu na’e tu’u holo he ngaahi halanga

Kuo fu’u puli pea ’alu mo hono to’utangata

Ka neongo ’ene vao fihi mo to e va’ava’a

Kae fai pe ha vavaku mo si’a fa’ala

Kia Touia-’o-Futuna ko e ’uluaki maka

Na’e fai mei ai hotau kam ata’anga

Kehe ko e talatupu’a ia mo e fananga

’Oku utuutu mei ai si’a kau fa’a



Pardon me, noble chiefs and lineages

For the searching place is now far and difficult

The plantations once scattered on the roads

Have now quite disappeared and gone with them their generation

But although they now lie in very thick bush

Search will be made at any rate For Touia-’o-Futuna, the first rock

Where our origin began

Though these are only myths and legends

Tis here the inquirers get their facts

Click the link below to view Tala - E - Fonua, the telling the of land and it’s people:


Melissa Gilbert

Tala – E – Fonua, the telling of the land and its people, Digital Animation, Narration by Eric Soakai, Run Time: 08.39mins, 2021

Viewers can use the QR code to view the work within the Digital Va.

Through storytelling we can further understand ourselves and our surroundings. Tala-E-Fonua tells the story of the Tongan creation story pieced together through collating of various accounts.

The work acts as a storytelling conduit for the carved taonga of the Atua, currently held in museum collections. Many of these artefacts have made their way into institutions through colonising events in history, such as religious conversion, confiscation, and conflict. Through the transference of these taonga, from indigenous guardianship to colonial ownership, their stories and importance are dislocated and severed. Museums do not provide a clear path for the diasporic community trying to reconnect to their culture. From my experience as a member of the diaspora, museum archives don’t support the reconnective learning process which is instead unconsciously built on a traumatic foundation.

With Tala-E-Fonua, I aim minimise the opening of these historical wounds and tell these stories without the stain of colonial violence by proposing the Digital Va as a space for these learning connections to happen within the language of the diaspora. With the combination of illustrative imagery and traditional oration, the work stands as an accessible piece of information for the Tongan diasporic community to learn from. I aim to bring the Atua to life through the Digital Va as a way to honour their stories.

The fakatapu (consecration) on the following page sets a tone for how to approach and honour Havea Hikule’o, Tangaloa ‘Eiki, Maui Motu’a, the ancestors past present and future. It also shows how to view the work from a diaspora standpoint to reconnect with Tonga.

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I’ve played around with some audio on top of the work I’ve already created. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1gFlb5DNTfY1Hs2Riem60zsWXiOMG3xPZ/view?usp=drivesdk https://drive.google.com/file/d/1viM00GI