PIR Week Continues with Kalapu Tonga Club


Brittney Ganzelli

Treasurer Kobe Ngirailemesang, Secretary Kaycia Mailo-Kaheaku, and member Josephine Iose stand at the Grab ‘N Go booth where they passed out 30 cups of ‘otai in under 20 minutes.

Chaminade University celebrated the second day of Pacific Island Review (PIR) week with Kalapu Tonga Club day consisting of food, history, song, and language. The day of virtual information and cultural festivities started off this afternoon with a Grab ‘N Go traditional Tongan drink called ‘otai meleni. The socially distanced event was held on the Zuberano lawn at 12 p.m. and passed out the watermelon/pineapple ‘otai drinks within the first 20 minutes.

“I really enjoyed being able to work with everyone in preparing the ‘otai drinks this morning,” Kalapu Tonga Secretary Kaycia Mailo-Kaheaku said. “Since the grab ‘n go was the only in-person activity this year, I especially loved having the opportunity to see and work with everyone in the Kalapu Tonga Club through a hands-on experience by being able to come together in preparing the drinks and setting up our station.”

The Kalapu Tonga Club currently doesn’t have a president, but Mailo-Kaheaku, a junior and forensic science major, explained how this year marks her first year as secretary. Although there was a lot to prepare for, her strong support system consisting of the council members of the CUH student government association (CSGA) and advisors like Seini Unga ensured the day flowed smoothly.

As an active member of the Kalapu Tonga Club for the past three years, Josephine Iose has adopted a few different titles. She went from being the secretary, former president, and is now simply a member of the club. She explained how the different informational segments, featuring of an introduction to Tonga, which briefly gives a historical overview of the country’s past, and  presentations given by the clubs members that explain the making of ‘otai and lessons on the Tongan language. These videos were uploaded and are available to watch on the Chaminade Office of Student Activities and Leadership’s (OSAL’s) YouTube https://tinyurl.com/y6nyhejo. Club member Iose encouraged those who attended today’s grab ‘n go to check it out as well.

“I’m sad because we’re not performing due to Covid and such short notice,” Iose said. “Although I wish we were, this year’s event was really different since we didn’t have to practice, just plan the ‘otai grab ‘n go, so everything went very well. Passing out the ‘otai was to help gain attention for our club and bring in students who are potentially interested in joining.”

Aside from the grab ‘n go, the club also showcased a presentation on the history and background of Tonga and conducted a virtual PIR where Seini Unga, club advisor and residence hall director, taught an 8-minute-long presentation on Tongan conversational words and phrases which can be found on OSAL’s YouTube page in the link above. In addition, a tutorial video of how to make ‘otai was instructed by Pisila Tukia, an advisor to the Kalapu Tonga Club, which is available for streaming and can be found using the same link. While Poppy Bradford, a third-year nursing student, ended the eventful day by singing a song that paid tribute to the late Queen Sālote who set many new standards for women in Tonga.

If you’re interested in learning more about Tongan culture and seeing the informational videos created by the Kalapu Tonga Club, visit its Instagram page at @cuh_kapalutonga.