Let's spread John Northcott's tale from faraway Tonga over a further night. Here's a helping from the next part of the story of the visit of a palangi, a European, to the distant South Pacific kingdom of Tonga.

Then I'll bring it to an end at the end of the weekend.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
The very civil civil engineer ... Before long, though, our talented writer turned his hand to manufacturing jewellery in sterling silver, doubling for Santa Claus when the reindeer couldn't reach New Zealand in time for Christmas Eve, washed dishes for restaurants, and found plenty of work as a film extra.
John's back in North Auckland these days, and an industrious fellow in spite of a negative turn of health.

In an email last night, John admitted his busyness. 'I'm rather engaged editing a friend's writings on climate change,' John said.

'I'm busy, too, doing some work for the local museum, where I'm HoD Artifacts.

I hate deadlines

'Both tasks have deadlines - I hate deadlines.'

I used the translating website Tongan Translator to find the meaning of the title which is a Tongan word - palangi.

John said, 'Tongan Translator is wrong - or at least incomplete. Palangi is a contraction of the Tongan for 'touch the sky' and refers to the tall ships in which the first Europeans arrived.

'There is debate in Tonga about whether palangi might mean simply non-Tongan, and could well refer to people with dark skins as well.'

In the excerpt yesterday, the young wide-eyed narrator can hardly keep his eyes off the actions of the white man.

It seems he never seen mannerisms like the palangi's. His ways are clearly very different way from locals. Earlier, he was surprised to see the visitor appear to get angry with a customs officer, but then realised that it might be a ruse of a kind seldom seen in the kingdom. The story continues here ...


Part 3: He spends a lot of time standing up and when he does sit on the ground. He doesn't sit like a man with his legs crossed. He sits with his knees to the side like a woman.

And he's not comfortable; he keeps fidgeting and has a lot of trouble getting up again. Sometimes they give him a nail box to sit on. He seems to like that.

Teacher says that it is very wet in New Zealand and they don't sit on the ground. Perhaps that is why his feet are so pale.

He twisted his ankle so he went to Kili to have the lump massaged. So he is sensible. Most palangis go to the clinic even for simple things like that.

Because his feet are so pale, Kili didn't want to use her heel to massage his ankle. She thought that his skin was not strong, but he said to her to go ahead, so she did.

Now the lump is gone and he thinks that Tongan medicine is good.

Last week he had beef stew for tea. He went across the road to the fale koloa, the shop, where they had this great big piece of frozen pulu and they couldn't cut it, so he got his diver's knife.

It's really cool in a black rubber sheath with straps to fix it to his leg and a big silver blade. We shouted, 'Rambo! and it cut the pulu [beef] really well. Because he's a palangi, the shop keeper cut all the fat off it. I like fat, but they didn't give it to me.'

More tomorrow ...
The previous episodes are here A Moonraker's paradise in the sun and here Shout if you want to charm a Customs man

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