The Tongan Tau’olunga is said to have been adopted into Tongan culture from the Samoan taualuga though many of the movements or motifs used in the tau’olunga come from the more ancient ‘ula’ dance. The ula, also known as fa’ahi-ula or faha’iula was a group dance for young chiefly daughters. With the introduction of the Samoan taualuga in the 19th Century, it became institutionalised amongst Tonga’s aristocracy (associated to the Tu’i Kanokupolu lineages) and soon became one of the most popular dances to end an occasion.
In the 1950’s Queen Salote personally made the tau’olunga distinctly more Tongan by adding wrist flourishes and lakalaka leg transitions into her song ‘Manu ‘o Palataisi’ (Bird of Paradise). This led to what we see in composition and format of the modern tau’olunga today.
Sisi’uno Helu shows us how to do some basic movements of the tau’olunga ranging from the ‘taulalo’, the ‘ha’o ta’, the ‘vete’, the ‘kako’, the ‘fu’, the ‘tongi’one’ and the ‘fakataupasi’.