The significance of Kava in Tongan history and culture

September 01, 2017

The significance of Kava in Tongan history and culture

Kava is symbolic of Tonga, it’s land, people, culture and traditions. It brings the past into the future and binds them together. Throughout the Pacific Kava is the ceremonial drink that marks Friendship, achievement of milestones in life, and unity.

In Tonga, the installment of the king or a Nobel title is not complete until a Kava ceremony is conducted. Traditional weddings are marked with kava where the groom presents the bride with kava to mark the binding of a new family. Important visitors are welcomed in the form of a kava ceremony. Kava is also used as a traditional peace offering.

The legend of Kava and its origins come from the island of Eueiki on the eastern side of Tongatapu. Where the parents of a Leprous daughter named “Kava” sacrificed their daughter as an offering for the Tu’i Tonga (Ancient Sacred King). The Tu’i Tonga heard of this act and quickly left the island. This act of sacrifice and offering illustrates the 4 Tongan virtues. 1/Fakaapaapa (Respect) 2/Lototo (Humility) 3/Mamahi’i me’a (Commitment) 4/Tauhi vaha’a (keeping good relations). The first Kava plant and sugar cane grew on Kava's grave.  Both plants have since been used in Tongan ceremony. 

Tongan Kava

Above: Freshly harvested Kava root chips drying in the Tongan sun

Kava Tonga embodies the elements that make the Kingdom of Tonga a very unique place in the world. Its rich heritage and its strong traditions pass down generations reflecting the strength of character of the Tongan, and their commitment to tradition. Kava represents a bridge from Tonga’s past into the future. The characteristics of Kava is part of everyday life in Tonga, in villages and in the remote parts of the Islands. Kava represents what it is that makes one Tongan. His late Majesty Taufa'ahau Tupou the 4th once said,"Tongan heritage is very valuable and is very important to know it and to maintain contact to it, because it is their Tongan heritage that makes them Tongan". Tongan Culture is based on a long line of Hierarchal traditions . Every material possession , language, food, craft and plants have a hierarchy from highest to lowest.

Learn more about our families Kava Tonga here

Source: The Konga Kava Hotel





Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.