A Tongan language love story

A Tongan language love story

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I was really mad. The Dawn raids – they were really terrible. The Tongans that were in New Zealand were working and your boss really liked you at the bakery in Palmerston. They were happy and there was a lot of work. It was just like working in Tonga, working
two jobs. Sending money to family in Tonga. So I was just mad about it. I was mad. So I said, we need to get married. The only way that you can stay is if we get
married otherwise you’ll never be able to come back. So I went to the district court and spoke
with the lady there and said ‘Malo e lelei, Oh hello. I would like to get married’. The lady said ‘Oh that’s lovely…here, you
need to fill out this form. What’s your name and your wife’s name? I said Kahoa Meimuli Leilea. She said ‘Oh that’s a lovely name. And when would you like to get married?’ ‘Well, can we get married this afternoon? Tevita (Kahoa’s brother) was my Tongan language
teacher but Tevita was fond of drinking and playing pool. So probably after learning how to order a
beer. Probably the first phrase was: And the standing joke was – like everybody learning a language. it’s the lea kapekape
(swear words) that you learn first. Yeah so when people would ask me “Si’i Peni, poto he lea fakatonga.” (Wow Ben, you’re good at speaking in Tongan). I would say ” ‘Ikai, poto he lea kapekape.” (No, I’m good at saying swear words!) During meal times, you know often when we’re eating and talking because you know, with Tongans even if you’re full, you just keep eating. My family would say “Eat Brendan!, Eat Brendan!” Brendan would say “I’m full.” they reply ‘No, just keep eating!’ Yeah that’s true, I forgot – food, food, food! Yeah, and the kitchen story – “Bring me a knife! Bring me the sharp knife!” Oh my goodness, and the kids just laugh. That’s my joke – I’m scared of an angry Tonga
woman – Tongan people know this the sharp knives are forbidden!” You got rid of all the sharp knives? Yeah, that’s right. No sharp knives in our house! I’m too afraid!

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