Tongan royals steal the show during wedding celebrations in Fiji

Tongan royals stole the show at a wedding ceremony for the Queen Mother’s niece at the Shangri-La resort on Yanuca Island in Fiji on Saturday, January 6.

Odette Inez Kilinalivoni Tupou-Moheofo Taumoepeau married Ratu Penaia Kamisese Tuivanuavou Ganilau of Fiji.

Taumoepeau is a daughter of the late Lord Sonatane Taumoepeau Tupou and the late Latunuia ‘Ahome’e Taumoepeau Tupou, the Queen Mother Halaevalu Mata’aho’s young sister.

Ratu Tui is the eldest grandson of Fiji’s former Prime Minister and President, Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara and Ratu Sir Penaia Ganilau, the son of former Fiji Military Forces Commander, Brigadier Ratu Epeli Ganilau and Adi Ateca Mara.

The Tongan entertainment during the wedding celebration was the latest incident in which the royals presented the tau’olunga and tu’ulafale to entertain guests.

This was not in accordance with Tongan protocol.

Tau’olunga (ladies’ dance) and tu’ulafale (man dancing behind or beside the female dancer) are normally performed by commoners at Tongan celebrations.

However, the Tongan royals performed the dances in Sigatoka last week during the celebration of their cousin’s wedding.

Photos seen by Kaniva News taken during the wedding showed Her Royal Highness Princess Pilolevu dancing with majestic haka (hands movements) accompanied by the normal facial expressions that are presented according to the rhythms of the music. Crown Prince Tupouto’a ‘Ulukalala performed the tu’ulafale, a combination of hakas, fakataupasi (clapping) and foot movements while the dancer lowers the upper part of his body.

When the royals perform the dances at Tongan events commoners are rarely expected to join in.

However, the photos appear to show that this was apparently what had happened during the Fiji celebration.

Reporting on the wedding, the Fiji-based Islands Business said: “Observers said it would have been unusual for the royal family to be so informal at home due to a rigid system and strict protocol.”

The wedding was also attended by Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Sinaitakala Fakafanua Tuku’aho and the Queen Mother.

Also attending were Lord Tuita, Prince Kalaniuvalu-Fotofili and his wife Princess Marcella Margaret Tupoumoheofo Taumoepeau Tupou – the bride’s twin sister as well as Lord and Lady Fakafanua Vaea.

The wedding ceremony was officiated by the President of the Methodist Church in Fiji, Reverend Tevita Banivanua and Father ‘Ekuasi Manu of the Catholic church.

The Maras have close ties to Tonga.

Ratu Mara had ancestral links to the Tongan royal family.

In 2011, Ratu Mara’s son, Colonel Ratu Tevita Uluilakeba Mara, fled to Tonga and accused coup leader and self-declared Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama of being a dictator.

While in Tonga Uluilakeba Mara stayed with the royal family and he is now His Majesty’s private secretary.


NZ Kaniva Pacific