1491630537730 - Tongan royal family attends historic album launch at Auckland’s Mangere Arts Centre

Tongan royal family attends historic album launch at Auckland’s Mangere Arts Centre

The sounds and melodies of ancient Tonga attracted a royal audience to Mangere Arts Centre.

Album Lomipeau Aotearoa is the first of its kind to be published, as a part of a landmark Auckland Council initiative to preserve Pacifica history.

Lomipeau Aotearoa is a selection of unique recordings based on the mythical poetry of the late Tongan Queen Salote Tupou III. 

Album creator, Pukepuke o’ Tonga is a North Shore based Tongan dance group made up of members of the Pusiaki family.

READ MORE: * Dance to the beat for free * Polynesian artists showcase work at Mangere Arts Centre * Ninety-three per cent of New Zealand’s council-owned art is collecting dust * New Tongan prince born in Auckland The group preserves Tongan culture, heritage and and life by sharing stories through music and dance, with both Tongan and non-Tongan communities.

Group leader Sesilia Pusiaki said the album’s launch on Saturday has been four generations in the making.

“These works have been alive since the 1920s, so it is now 80 years down the road, and they still have the same spirit and the same mana.”

Today we are feeling timeless, classical, and above all blessed, she said.

Pusiaki’s grandfather had the first idea to record these ancient songs, during a conversation over a bowl of kava in the 90s.

However, Pusiaki said he was waiting for just the right opportunity. For her, that moment is now.

“This is a part of how we lived and how we are still living. It is also representative of how we will continue to live,” she said.

Auckland Council’s Mangere Arts Centre hosted the event that welcomed the guest of honour Princess Mele Siuilikutapu Kalaniuvalu Fotofili.

The day-long festivities, from 11am till 6pm, included a traditional kava ceremony, live performances, and finished with a dinner.

Lomipeau Aotearoa was developed as a part of Taonga Pasifika, Auckland Council’s two year pilot project, which focuses on the preservation and sharing of Pacific culture.

Arts, culture and events publicist Clare Strawson says ultimately, this initiative is to make Auckland the most liveable city, for all the people living in it.

“An event like this is integral to making that vision a reality,” Strawson said.

The album launch is a part of live events series supporting the landmark exhibition, Volume: Making Music in Aotearoa at the Auckland Museum until May 21.