Community radio: Faka’amanaki - Tongan radio programme
Siale Faitotonu has been broadcasting his ever-expanding radio programme for the Tongan people for 23 years on Plains FM96.9.
Now going by the name Faka’amanaki, the show provides news and support for Tongans, particularly those settling into a new country.
The programme’s title, Faka’amanaki, means “Hope for…” and applies to everything from “Living” to a “Better Future”. The show’s original name had been Taka-i-Fonuamahu (Living in the Promised Land).
There were only about 100 Tongans in Christchurch in1986, while there are more than 2000 here today.
“I analysed our own culture and local issues in depth, and I share all this information so that the Tongan people in Christchurch can fulfil their potential,” says Siale.
Advice can range from how to promote your own business to employment, and medical information from Tongan doctors in Auckland. There are also telephone interviews with experts in Tonga, the United States and Australia.
“The Tongan people find it difficult to adjust to life in a new land. Everything is new, although they have heard a lot about New Zealand and seen it in movies,” says Siale.
“In Tonga, we identify by village. In Christchurch, we identify by what church we go to. But there are some Tongans who don’t go to church. We can reach them through radio. We can give them everything they need to know that way.”
Of course, important days for the Tongan people, such as Mother’s Day, Christmas and New Year are also celebrated on Faka’amanaki, while traditional Tongan music, such as choral numbers, is included.
When Siale first started Faka’amanaki on Plains FM, there were already two other Tongan programmes on the station, one from a community group, the other from a church group.
About 1996, when the show had been going for a couple of years, the Government’s Ministry of Pacific Peoples (now the Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs) offered to fund it as a provider of information for the Tongan people in Christchurch.
Faka’amanaki had been going for about 15 years when Siale linked it up with a similar programme on the Auckland community radio station, Planet FM. Dateline Tonga presents Tongan news and current affairs.
To provide some spiritual nourishment, a further link has since been made with anotherAuckland radio programme, which goes by the same name as that on Plains FM.
A secondary teacher in Tonga, Siale has been in New Zealand for more than 20 years and now runs a laboratory for geomechanics civil engineers at the University of Canterbury.
“I wear so many hats now,” says Siale, who is now also a Justice of the Peace, a translatorfor the courts and Immigration New Zealand.
He is running Tongan-language classes and, for 10 years, has been providing support centres for children through the Kahoa Tauleva Christchurch Trust, which is also involved with the PEETO English Language College.
Faka’amanaki is broadcast on Plains FM at 8pm on Tuesdays and 7am on Sundays.