On July 7 2023, the Niuafo’ou New Testament was dedicated and presented to the people. This happened as part of the “MALAU 75” event, for which occasion Niuafo’ou people from all over the world gathered on ‘Eua island to commemorate the 75th anniversary of their migration from Niuafo’ou to ꞌEua.
In 1946, Niuafo’ou island, the homeland of the Niuafo’ou people, was struck by a series of violent earthquakes. As a result of this, the Tongan government decided to resettle the entire population. The people were taken to the main island Tongatapu, and in 1948, most of them moved to ‘Eua, close to Tongatapu. Ten years later, some of them moved back to Niuafo’ou. Over the years, many Niuafo’ou people migrated overseas, mainly to New Zealand, Australia and the United States.
To commemorate the 1946/1948 migration, hundreds of Niuafo’ou people from all over the world travelled to Tonga in July and gathered on ‘Eua for a weekend of fellowship and festivities.
The main event on Friday July 7, was a commemorative service at the Free Wesleyan Church of Angahā. This service was led by Dr. Tevita Koloa’ia Havea (president of the Free Wesleyan Church) and attended by members of the royal family, among whom the Crown Prince, Tupoutu’a ‘Ulukalala.
In the front of the packed church were twenty boxes of Niuafo’ou New Testaments.
During the service, main translator Sitiveni Tuꞌilautala retold the history of the project, which started in 2006. He commemorated the team members who have not lived to see the end of the project: Reverends Penisimani Mone, Folauhola Taukafa and Henelī Vete, as well as Mrs. Liuaki Fusitu’a. Sitiveni explained how the translation work was done and how it will benefit the Niuafo’ou people.
After his speech, Sitiveni presented a copy to the crown prince…
Mrs. ‘Akata Luifinau, member of the translation team, read John 1:1-9 from the new translation.
Mr Sitiveni Tuꞌilautala, Dr Paulus Kieviet, Rev Dr Heneli Taliai Niumeitolu (Chairman Wycliffe Tonga Mission board), Mr Maxy Koloamatangi (CEO Wycliffe Tonga Mission)
Over the years, news about the Niuafoꞌou translation project has spread among the Niuafoꞌou community in Tonga, but many Niuafoꞌou from overseas had not heard about it. Many expressed surprise and joy when they learned that the whole New Testament is now available in their own language. When they return home in the coming days and weeks, many if not most will take a copy of the New Testament with them. In Tonga itself, the translation will be distributed through the different churches on ꞌEua, Tongatapu and Niuafoꞌou.