Tuesday, November 24, 2015
George Petelo Fa'apoi.
SIA KO VEIONGO R.F.C. 1966
George in front of the coach.
A distinquished George now.
On Wednesday mornings, I go to Mt Albert Baptist Church. The kids in school ask me why I go there. I tell them, I teach big people to learn English. I tell them there mums and dads can go and learn English and about New Zealand Culture. I tell them about George. He is the best example to an immigrant to New Zealand.
Mālō e lelei - hello
I always greet George "Mālō e lelei" because these are the only Tongan words I know. My students in Pt Chevalier school taught me to say that and assured me that it is enough when I greet a Tongan person.
This is George Petelo Fa'apoi. He is 78 and comes to Mt Albert Baptist Church ESOL classes as a senior student. He is a very regular attendant and is such an inspiration. I don't teach him, so I regard him as a friend. He is what the proverbial phrase, tall, dark and handsome man and soft spoken that any woman, me inclusive, would want for her boy friend.
In his younger days, he had traveled the world with the Tongan Shipping agency and had been to Borneo. George's extensive CV was high lighted when he was the security guard on duty during the French bombing of the Rainbow Warrior. He was the first eye witness and he ran to the police station.
George is one of the few surviving Tongan rugby players that first played against the Maori All Black in 1966.
Now as a retiree, he doesn't twiddle his thumbs. He attended numerous courses including alcoholism seminars, Pacific Islands sexual abuse counseling course, interpreting in English and Tongan, to help his people.
George read the Tongan news at 104.6 FM at carrington. At 6am-8am, from Monday to Thursday.
At Jonah Lumu's funeral, George will be reading the news.
Instead he volunteers with the Friendly Islands Wardens Incorporated, and with 7 ex policemen. He provides security for Auckland City, Balmoral area, Sandringham and Avondale area. George is the manager. He is a friendly grand pa to many of the Polynesian kids.
He is one of the initiators of the Pasifika Festival Celebration in Western Springs. He holds a stall with his wife. Their stall won the best dressed stall in Tonga village in 2010. Such is the dedication and passion for his culture.
After more than 40 years in New Zealand, he can show the kids a thing or two. Life doesn't need to be a useless bum as is the stereotyping prejudiced ideas perceived of immigrant people from the islands.
George lives with his wife, has two children, and seven grand children, (6 boys and a girl). He attends church service every Sunday, and is an encouragement to those who know him. He is held with the highest regard among the Tongan community.