A Gift of Koloa, Tongan Treasures
“The World Around our Table”, depicts a Tonga kumete or kava bowl, which is used here to symbolise communal dining, sharing and multiculturalism at St. John’s College. The common Tongan practice of kava drinking or “faikava” is closely connected with “talanoa”, which can be referred to as a conversation, a talk, an exchange of ideas or thinking, whether formal or informal.
In Tonga, the gift of a tapa, or ngatu, is of great social and ceremonial importance. The cloth is painstakingly made from the bark of mulberry trees by local women, then lovingly designed and painted with images that are central to the cultural identity, social relations, politics, history and contemporary religion of the people.
St. John’s College has been honoured to accept the gift of three tapas from St. John’s College Alumnus, Stan Manu. This tapa was presented in 2014 and was specially designed by Stan’s mother, Kelela Lotiola, and personalized with symbols embodying the College, as well as traditional Tongan emblems.