Vaiaho o te Gagana Tokelau: Te Vaka's Ki mua

This week Auckland Libraries are celebrating Vaiaho o te Gagana Tokelau, Tokelau Language Week for 2015.

So we're featuring a Tokelauan album from our heritage music collections, the 1999 album Ki mua  from the celebrated group Te Vaka.

The booklet of the CD includes each track's lyrics and a description in both English and Tokelau language. This is how song-writer Opetaia Foa'i describes the hit song Pate Pate (Log drums) from the album:

Courting fun between groups of young men and women. Much of the message is expressed in the dances, which are vibrant and provocative. This is an accepted way in which to communicate with the one they love. The boldness, the teasing, the confidence is openly expressed for all to see, spurred on and driven by the power of the log drums.

Opetaia Foa'i writes in the liner notes for the album:

My main source of inspiration comes from speaking to the old people, listening to their stories and the stories passed on to them by their parents and grandparents. This valuable information is then put into music and preserved for the coming generations to appreciate. This is a very important part of my songwriting.  

The interest in history is seen in the liner notes from this album which reference the following publications:

Judith Huntsman, Anthony Hooper / Tokelau: a historical ethnography
Allan Thomas / New song and dance from the Central Pacific
University of the South Pacific / Matagi Tokelau: history and traditions of Tokelau

If you are interested in learning more about Tokelau this seems like a good place to start and all of these resources are available from Auckland Libraries.

Ref: Te Vaka CDs from Sir George Grey Special Collections, clockwise from top left: Hauloto, Nukukehe, Tutuki, Olatia.

Between Te Vaka's current and comprehensive website and their YouTube channel much of their music is available to listen to and purchase online, but it is nice to know that the CDs they have released are being saved for posterity.

Author: Andrew Henry