Tuesday, April 3, 2012

George P Fa'apoi, My Tongan Friend

George in front of the coach.

A distinquished George now.

 Here I am with my ESOl srudent/friend George and his daughter Sita infront of his stall selling Tongan craft. See my Pasifika hat? I didn't like the feeling of the lei, so I wound it round my hat.
 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 75 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.

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.

Mālō e lelei - hello (lit. congrat. on being well, the being in good health is worthy of gratitude)

Fēfē hake? - how are you? (fēfē means how, hake is idiomatic with fēfē)

Sai pē - just fine


Tonga might well be that island in the sun.

Island In The Sun lyrics
Songwriters: Belafonte, Harry; Burgess, Irving;

Oh island in the sun
Built to me by my father's hand
All my days I will sing in praise
Of your forest waters, your shining sand

As morning breaks, the Heaven on high
I lift my heavy load to the sky
Sun comes down with a burning glow
Mingles my sweat with the earth below

Oh island in the sun
Built to me by my father's hand
All my days I will sing in praise
Of your forest waters, your shining sand

I see woman on bended knee

Cutting cane for her family
I see man at the water-side
Casting nets at the surfing tide

Oh island in the sun
Built to me by my father's hand
All my days I will sing in praise
Of your forest waters, your shining sand

I hope the day will never come
When I can't awake to the sound of drum
Never let me miss carnival
With calypso songs philosophical

Oh island in the sun
Built to me by my father's hand
All my days I will sing in praise
Of your forest waters, your shining sand

[. From: http://www.elyrics.net/read/h/harry-belafonte-lyrics/island-in-the-sun-lyrics.html .]



diane b said...

There should be a lot more Georges in the world.

Anonymous said...

I am sure there, like here, we hear so many negative stories about those who were here before us, but it always good to hear a story of someone who just gives.

Ginny Hartzler said...

He looks like a very colorful person, by that I mean his personality! You are lucky to have him as your friend!

Nezzy (Cow Patty Surprise) said...

I do believe this world would be a better place if we had more Georges.

Isn't a giver just the best???

Thanks for sharin' this story.

God bless and have a magnificent day sweetie!!! :o)

Unknown said...

Hi Ann, thanks for visiting my blog. I sure enjoyed visiting yours, you have a beautiful blog. The world does need more people like George in it. Thanks for sharing. I loved your photos of the birds, also.

Linda said...

Very nice story about a giving man.

Hootin Anni said...

Oh Ann, you have touched our hearts with this tribute of such a wonderful friend. And your song to go with it....perfect.

PS....the tornadoes here in Texas were not even close to where I live...about 300 miles away near Dallas.

Lighthousegal said...

A lovely tribute indeed. This old world would be such a better place if we had more inspirational people as George.
Happy Thursday!

My Mind's Eye said...

Ann this is certainly I song I wasn't familiar with and I thank you for sharing.
Madi and Mom