|Our full 'Eua flight|
This year marks the 50th Anniversary Jubilee of Hofangahau College, the only Wesleyan secondary school on `Eua. For four days last week, former teachers, students, and anyone who had ever had anything to do with the school flooded back to `Eua for three days of feasting, ceremony, dancing, marching, donating money, and generally catching up. For that week, the tiny island of normally 4,000 inhabitants doubled in size.
|The Jubilee Gate|
|The Tau'olunga by a visiting New Zealander|
|People give money in appreciation of the Tau'olunga|
After the mad rush of arriving on that first day, everything picked up speed and intensity even more. The second day started with "The March of the Alumni," a time-honoured tradition at every school anniversary in Tonga. Important events here often feature marches. There was a festive mood as everyone trooped up the main road in `Eua to the village across from Hofangahau school in little groups to start the parade, and after waiting for everyone to assemble, we were off! The 1960 group headed the line, proudly waving their placard, and the following groups performed for the crowds that had gathered to watch. The march wound its serpentine way through the village and back to the school before breaking to allow the alumni to have a ceremony with the main dignitaries of the Wesleyan Church.
|March of the Alumni|
|Queen Halaevalu Mata'aho|
On the last day of the celebration, the Queen of Tonga arrived. In a chair bedecked with tapa and Tongan mats, she sat through the entire ceremony of the unveiling of a new school monument, received gifts, gave gifts, and regally presided over the event. Hofangahau is one of the smallest secondary schools in Tonga, and although she just celebrated her 85th anniversary, the Queen made sure to be there. It was an enormous honour to have her attend, and was truly appreciated by all the guests.
|A 40-meter tapa cloth for the school|
|Tables for the feasts|
But despite the colosal amount of work, the rainy weather, the lack of sleep, and the immense co-ordination of visitors, the Hofangahau team and local villages pulled off a great event. It brought together alumni from all over Tonga, Australia, New Zealand, and the US, was specially presided over by the queen, and raised enough funds for the school to build a home economics room, technical building, and much-needed staff housing. What a success.
|The Wild Joy of Eating Pork (with a small friend and an 'Eua volunteer)|