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Tonga's flagbearer Pita Taufatofua steals the show again Featured

Pita Taufatofua leading the Tonga team Pita Taufatofua leading the Tonga team

10 Febuary, 2018. Tonga's bare-chested flagbearer for its one-man Winter Olympics team was given a warm reception by the opening ceremony crowd in sub-zero temperatures.

Pita Taufatofua emerged from the tunnel covered in his trademark body oil and wearing a grass skirt, sandals and a huge smile as he led the Tongan delegation around the arena.

"I won't freeze. I am from Tonga. We sailed across the Pacific. This is nothing," Taufatofua said.

Pita Taufatofua delighted the crowd at the opening ceremony

The good news for his admirers is that he returned for the Winter Olympics, having switched to cross country ski-ing.

And Taufatofua is again creating headlines, featuring as one of the BBC's eight reasons you'll end up watching the Winter Olympics "This is a man who knows how to make an entrance", it said. "Don't expect big things on the slopes - Taufatofua only saw snow for the first time a couple of years ago."

And the athlete inspired an extended profile on CNN, telling the story of the "sacrifice and determination" behind his Olympic dream.

The 34 year old is the second Tongan athlete ever to qualify for the Winter Olympics.

He announced in December 2016 he was taking a break from taekwondo in an attempt to qualify for the Winter Games, despite having no prior ski-ing experience.

Last month, he admitted to a big feeling of relief when he booked his ticket to Pyeongchang in the final race of his cross country skiing qualification campaign in Iceland.

"This was the last day of qualification for me, this is the end of the qualification period. I had seven races and they all failed. I did my best but I fell short each time but I thought there's one race left, it's at the end of the world...in the Arctic Circle in Iceland and I thought I have to give it all."

Qualifying had seemed a distant prospect in February last year, when the Brisbane-based athlete finished 153rd of 156 in the men's sprint race at the World Championships. But he lost 15kg and worked on getting faster.

"This year [we've had] so many challenges - we sacrificed everything to be here. Financially I'm in the worst position ever but I'm the happiest ever," he told the Olympic Channel.

Taufatofua will follow in the footsteps of Bruno Banani, who competed in luge at the 2014 Winter Games.

-RNZI

2 comments

  • Hufanga (Okusitino Mahina)
    Hufanga (Okusitino Mahina) Tuesday, 13 February 2018 17:25 Comment Link

    Great sacrifice Pita Taufatofua! Malo 'aupito and many thank-yous for unselfishly "dying for the whole of Tonga," so that her refined all-embracing traditions (and 'Otu Ha'apai heritage) and those of the Olympian legacies of true athleticism and aestheticism for humanity in all may continue to live into the future behind people in the past, situated in front of them in the present. So, congratulations for both your genuine confidence and real courage!

    Your passionate but proud and unreserved exhibition of the national, educational, religious and cultural colours kula / kulokula (red) and 'uli / 'uli'uli (black) of Tonga -- where hina / hinehina or tea / tetea (white) is merely a manifestation of kula (red) -- is well-received, mind-thrilling and heart-warming.

    A few of our Tongan scholars -- who are actively engaged in critical inquiry and applied research across disciplines and forms of social activity in reality, including nature, mind and society -- have systematically yet critically shown the centrality of kula (red) and 'uli (black) in Tongan culture.

    This is clearly seen mainly in the art genres tufunga (material) and nimamea'a (fine) arts -- where kula (red) and 'uli (black) are intersected or connected and separated in the creative process -- for example, tufunga lalava (material art of kafa-sennit-lashing) and nimamea''a koka'anga (fine art of bark-cloth-making).

    Accordingly, kafa kula (red kafa-sennit) and kafa 'uli (black kafa-sennit) are used in tufunga lalava (material art of kafa sennit-lashing) and koka kula (red koka-dye) and tongo 'uli (black tongo-dye) in nimamea'a koka'anga (fine art of bark-cloth-making) and many more.

    The same applies to the use of kili kula (red-pigmented-skin) and vaitohi 'uli (black-dyed-ink) in the tufunga tatatau (material art of tattooing) and fe'unu kula (reddish / brownish-leaf-strips) and fe'unu 'uli (blackish / darkish-leaf-strips) in the nimamea'a lalanga (fine art of weaving) amidst many others.

    Herein, it becomes obvious that ivi (energy) is temporally-formally, spatially-substantially (functionally-practically) organised along kula (red) and 'uli (black) -- in the form of mata kula (red eyes) and, its mirror image, ava kula (red holes) -- in both Tongan conception and action.

    The concept and practice peau kula (red waves) -- variously yet confusingly known as tidal waves, seismic sea-waves and tsunami --, is a case in point, signifying a movement, motion or transition of ivi (energy) from 'uli (black) to kula (red).

    As for peau kula (red waves), it involves a movement, motion or transformation of ivi (energy) from the "inner" 'uli / 'uli'uli (blackness / darkness) of the oceans and volcanoes to their "outer" kula / kulokula (redness / lightness) surfaces, in the form of mata kula (red eyes) and, its symmetry, ava kula (red holes).

    (In effect, the specified super movement, motion or transition of ivi [energy] through the mediums of matangi / havili [winds] and peau / ngalu [waves] -- collectively named as cyclone Gita -- can be reflectively but meaningfully analysed in this philosophical-theoretical yet functional-practical context).

    By the way, the epistemological entities kula (red) and 'uli (black) and mata (eyes) and ava (holes) -- as are tangata (males) and fefine (females), la'a (sun) and mahina (moon), 'aho (day) and po (night) and mo'ui (life) and mate (death) amongst many others -- are merely extensions of ta (time) and va (space), on the abstract level, and fuo (form) and uho (content), on the concrete level, as both ontological identities.

    Both these ontological and epistemological entities, identities or tendencies have been instrumental in the formulation of the newly-developed ta-va (time-space) philosophy / theory of reality -- where the indigenous Tongan (and Moana Oceania) knowledge (and skills) are utilised in the productive process -- in original, creative and innovative ways.

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  • Sani
    Sani Saturday, 10 February 2018 21:23 Comment Link

    Malo mua Pita sii mokosia maa Tonga. Nae tonu keke kau he foaki metali maae Mate Maa Tonga, koe tuo ua ee hoo taekofu he momokotoho o ilo ai hotau kii Fonua.

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