Taumafa Kava
The Taumafa Kava (Drinking Kava) is an important Royal ceremony held for a royal death or marriage, bestowing of a noble title or royal coronation.  The Taumafa Kava ceremony is different to other Kava ceremonies in Tonga, in that His Majesty the King of Tonga is in attendance.

The first Taumafa Kava was believed to have occurred during the reign of the Tu'i Tonga (first King of Tonga) after Kava was discovered (on 'Eueiki island close to 'Eua island off Tongatapu).

Historically, the King would sit with his back to a special type of Koka tree and face the circle.  This type of Koka tree was used as it was wide and strong and could protect the King if any attempt was made to attack him from behind.  Today, the special type of Koka tree is very rare, so a piece of the tree has been carved with three stars (as represented on the Royal crest) and is placed inside the fale behind the King.

The Kava is prepared by Ha'a Ngata (descendants of Ngata – connected to Tu'i Kanokupolu).  The first cup of Kava is presented to the King (in the time of Tu'i Tonga, the Matapule was the first person to try the kava to ensure that it was safe for the King to drink) by either a Noble or a close family member of the Noble or Royal Family who the Taumafa Kava is being held in honour of.

The Taumafa Kava usually requires that the Nobles and their Matapule (Talking Chief) take part in the ceremony.  The King always sits at the head of the circle in a purpose built fale.  The fale is of significance as it represents the high status that the King holds.  Inside the fale, the King sits on pile of ngatu (tapa) and fine mats specially made for the occasion.

The Taumafa Kava is a large ceremony and there can sometimes be hundreds of people sitting in the circle.  Seating at the ceremony is based on a complex system of the hierarchy of the Nobles. 

In the past, sugarcane was served to each person at the same time as the Kava.  The sweetness of the sugarcane would counteract the sour taste of the kava.  Today, sugarcane has been replaced by pork (puaka).  There are often many pigs presented at a large Taumafa Kava.  The pig is divided into five parts (head, two fore-legs, two rear legs and the back).  The back of the biggest pig is given to the King and the rest of the pieces are equally divided between the Nobles and Matapule.

During the ceremony, two Matapule are selected to participate in the greeting dialogue.  This dialogue has been passed down from the first Taumafa Kava ceremony and occurs when the King is present (both at Taumafa Kava and feasts).  The words spoken are the same, however, they are differentiated at the Taumafa Kava ceremony when the Matapule begin with the words: "Fau e kuo pulonga" (the strainer is on the Kava bowl).


The most recent Taumafa Kava was held in September 2006 with His Majesty King Siaosi Tupou V.  This ceremony was held just after the death of his late Majesty King Taufa'ahau Tupou IV and was the first official engagement of King Siaosi Tupou V.  At this ceremony, there were approximately 120 people participating.