Nuku'alofa, Tonga | 5 December 2022
By Leilehua Fa'onevai
A delegation of 25 members from the Brisbane Tongan Community travelled to Nukuʻalofa to demonstrate their support for Australian dual citizen Lave 'Iloa Ola (Sulieni Layt) making his inaugural cultural presentation to His Majesty King Tupou VI at the Royal Palace.
Lave ʻIloa Ola is the first Australian to be appointed a Chief Attendant to His Majesty King Tupou VI after he was bestowed the title in a kava ceremony conducted in Brisbane, Queensland in the presence of Her Royal Highness Princess Angelika Lātūfuipeka Tukuʻaho on 4 August 2022. The ceremony was covered by our very own Pasifika TV and Radio team in collaboration also with ABC, see link below.
The kava ceremony in Brisbane was the beginning of the traditional relationship that His Majesty had bestowed upon Lave 'Iloa Ola. This is an amalgamation of the celebration that was commenced in Brisbane. A royal recognition of Lave 'Iloa Ola's character, dedication to the people of Tonga.
Lave 'Iloa Ola is the first Australian of not of Tongan heritage, bestowed such a Chiefly title. He is the third non-indigenous Tongan to have received a title from the King of Tonga. It is a true recognition of Lave 'Iloa Ola's heart for Tonga, holding strong to the motto - Ko e 'Otua mo Tonga ko hoku Tofi'a, translated in English: 'God and Tonga are my inheritance'.
In a statement at the Royal Palace, Lave ʻIloa Ola said, "It is an extremely rare honour to have an audience with His Majesty and we are completely indebted to the King for his leadership and devotion in bestowing the title Lave ʻIloa Ola."
Mele Ngauamo, Treasurer elect for the Brisbane Tongan Community also commented on how rare and humbling it was to attend the Royal Palace for a special audience with His Majesty King Tupou VI. Mele has known Lave 'Iloa Ola since he commenced volunteering at Radio 4eb from the age 12 years for the Voice of Tonga. Lave 'Iloa Ola is a visionary in the Tongan community having established the Pasifika TV and Radio, QLD Tongan Language School and managed the recent fundraiser Tonga Relief Charity Dinner in the City Hall of Brisbane where over $50,000AUD was raised for Tonga and co-managed the shipping of 2x 20ft containers a month of donated goods to the relief effort in Tonga after the volcanic eruption of Hunga-Tonga Hunga-Ha'apai on 15 January 2022.
During the traditional presentation, an oratory exchange took place between the chiefs in which Lave ʻIloa Ola thanked the King for the title and acknowledged the fact he was honoured as the first Australian to be made a Chief Attendant of the King of Tonga. This was a rare occasion for many who had attended, as it epitomised the heart of a Tongan, respect and love shown to His Majesty King Tupou VI and his Royal House.
In accordance with Tongan custom, Lave ʻIloa Ola and his family also gifted 10 large pigs, in addition to 20 baskets of root crops, 20 baskets of hampers, traditional kava plants from the island of ʻEua (donated by Feleoko 'a Maui) and traditional handicrafts.
The delegation will return from the Kingdom to Australia on 15 December 2022.
Whilst in Tonga, Pasifika TV and Radio, a media platform established by the Brisbane Tongan Community Inc, in 2020, the visionary behind it being Lave 'Iloa Ola and his team, are currently in the Kingdom producing a range of programs for the diaspora live from Nukuʻalofa.
For the livestream of the kava ceremony in Brisbane via Pasifika TV and Radio see link. Subscribe and follow our media platform on our Facebook and YouTube pages.