I went back to Tonga, after graduating from the Conservatorium of Music, Brisbane, here in Australia. At 22 years old, I was made Director for ‘Atenisi Foundation for Performing Arts, (AFPA) at my father’s school, ‘Atenisi Institute. AFPA performed classical anthems, European opera and Tongan music and dance. At the end of 1996, AFPA started touring continuously until 2002. The tours were to New Zealand, Australia, Hawaii, California and Utah in the US and also to Fiji, Samoa and American Samoa. The group also hosted goodwill visits to high schools in Tongatapu, Vava’u and Ha’apai.
My interest in filmmaking and storytelling started from a young age with my brother’s vhs video camera, making home videos. In 2006, I offered to help in the making of the documentary film TONGAN ARK by New Zealand filmmaker Paul Janman. This documentary looked at the last years of my father’s life and his school. In 2015, I was given another opportunity to work with filmmaker Jay Tauamiti on a few Tongan myths and this led to the founding of the Nuku’alofa Film Festival.
The music played at my home when growing up was diverse, from Opera, Spanish music, Symphonies, to Queen Salote III, Malukava and dancing. I find myself again and again to be very lucky to have had this upbringing.
My passion for preserving our culture is immeasurable. Our stories, our music, our dance and language are things that occupy my thinking and imagination a lot. There are no words that can encompass this. I wish to continue to create platforms and places where the knowledge, stories and history can be protected and stored.
I would like to acknowledge my little sister Virginia for always encouraging and always caring about my well being and that of my children too. Thank you to my children, Tamryn, Soa, Kaloni and Bebe Futa, to whom this small work is dedicated.