Kaumaakonga: Taoba

Outbound, Homebound

Listening Post 247. The singer-musicians of Kaumaakonga are outliers because their ancestors traveled far. Their two small islands—Mungava and Mungiki, from which they derive Avaiki, the name of their Polynesian culture and language—occupy a corner of the Solomon Islands, which are predominantly Melanesian.* Centuries before Europe’s Age of Exploration, Polynesian navigators plied the vast Pacific in canoes, using a wayfinding toolbox of sun and stars, waves and currents, wind and bird movements—plus knowledge preserved in song. In addition to discovering distant shores, the navigators served as emergency responders who during famines and other crises protected home by conducting essential trade or evacuating people to neighboring islands. Kaumaakonga breathes new life into ancient Polynesian chants—some so old they are only partially understood today—incorporating Melanesian pan pipes and percussion, blending oral tradition with contemporary strings and rich harmonies. They sing of their forebears’ journeys and customs, how they loved and mourned, tracing echoes of nostalgia that evolved into reverence. The title track of Taoba is perhaps the oldest chant, passed down for 26 generations (500-600 years) portraying the prowess of the brown falcon that often perched on oceangoing canoes (video 1). A newer composition based on historic sources, Ongibao describes sadness over the death of someone dear (video 2). Pungutia invokes a traditional god to aid a crew’s survival at sea (video 3); and leaping to the twentieth century, Nimo uses modern Polynesian folk style in describing the longing of people who left island villages for  life in towns and cities (video 4). Like their ancestors, the Avaiki occupy small spaces but don’t allow isolation to define them. Kaumaakonga’s songs are not only great entertainment, they also remind a weary planet, united in its separation, that home-confinement is an ideal state for remembering the last journey—or dreaming of the next. (Wantok Musik)

Kaumaakonga (KMK): Taoba
Raymond Tuhaika Mainge: Vocals, guitar, percussion
Kaipua Angikitasi Paa’ungahenua: Vocals, percussion
Kennedy Tekatoha: Vocals, percussion, ukelele
Jenny Niungongo Tekatoha: Vocals
Willie Tekatoha: Vocals, guitar, percussion, bass guitar
Michael Maefaididia: Bass guitar
Alvin Indu: Drums

Special guest musicians
Paul Hamond Hunahau: Pan pipes
Ben Kaumanaki: Pan pipes
Joe Sihu: Pan pipes
Tio Bang: Violin
Junior Vincent Marita: Guitar

*The islands of Mungava and Mungiki are also known as Rennell and Bellona. The Avaiki language is alternately called Rennell-Bellona, RenBel and Rennellese. 

For more information or to purchase the album:
https://kaumaakonga.bandcamp.com

 

Taoba / Brown Falcon
Traditional

From the album notes: Taoba is “Taba” the brown falcon. The lyrics used are older and less comprehensible than other songs on the album. Oral tradition says it is an ungu tuai, meaning old ungu song, with no explanation.

(Avaiki lyrics and English explanation/translation)
A ungaua te taoba nei te ao / Describes the actions of the taba or its characteristics
Uou no ae iae ko ungi ungi uoe / (meaning not known)

Au ngaua te pingi nei te ao / Describes the precision of the taba when it attacks
Uou no ae iae ko ungi ungi uoe / (not known)

Sopo tou baka nei te ao / The taba appears or alights on your canoe
Uou no ae iae ko ungi ungi uoe / (not known)

Kauiae ie kau ia e / (not known)

 

Ongibao / Mourning
Composer: Angikinui FT Tekatoha (1995)

Using traditional Tangi tunes, lyrics, grammar, rhythm and poetry as guide, Angikinui inspiringly revived traditional compositions and wrote this song, expressing his feelings for someone he dearly loved who passed away unexpectedly.

Ongibao ngibao
Usu te tangi eke hinangango / In the midst of crying and deep thoughts
Ongibao ngibao
Ite Mahuke hano o te ao / In the breaking of dawn
Ongibao ngibao
Noko ino ai koe toku hange / You faded away in my house
Ongibao ngibao
Hange mo’ou te hange po’ou / Your dwelling place now is dark as night
Ongibao ngibao

Moe toku hange he’e tutungu / My house is steady
Ongibao ngibao
Binu ite bai binu ngaoi / Drinking very sweet juice
Ongibao ngibao
He’e papau ki te hengeunga / Loose in conversation
Ongibao ngibao
Ma’ungi to’a te angoha mongi / Strength in life and firm in sadness
Ongibao ngibao

Aue kua tangi ai / I’ve cried
He’e mahonga atu ki moana / Lost you to the oceans
Aue kua tangi ai / I’ve cried
Ongi te angoha i toku uso / Deep sadness in my heart
Noho ma toku ngenge ma’uongi / In a state of shock
Aue kua tangi ai / I’ve cried
Tau tenei te he’e papau / Maybe was not meant to be
He’e susunga kua hakapau / Was not meant to be

 

Pungutia / Invocation
Traditional

Pungutia te aitu o ngatonga / Invoking the god of Ngatonga, an ancestor
Ahe nika ko tehuaingabebga / The respectable/chief god Tehu’aingabenga
Mei ahe ki tou ha’itunga / Come into your sacred house of worship
Ngotunga kinai kau ma’ungi / My hope for survival
ue a oue….oue / (refrain)

Ko Mungaba e taha ki matangi / Mungava (Rennell Island) is to the east
Ngua ahenga singi mai ai / Two entrances you passed to get here
Ko Mungiki nei te hai ngenga / Ngenga ritual ointment is made here in Mungiki (Bellona Island)
Ngotunga kinai kau ma’ungi / My hope for survival

Masiki kau tae ‘ia
Tuku hakana kau hanguna
Noko moe hanguhangu i kau e / (meaning not known)

 

Nimo / Sunset
Nimo was recorded to showcase our island folk songs, similar to island hula dancing songs of other Polynesian cultures. Contrary to the album’s traditional songs, it was composed in the 1970s when many people from our island left their village homes and migrated to towns and cities in search of jobs and alternative lifestyles—often suffering from homesickness and longing to return home.

Nimo e, Te masina ki te taiusi e e atua e
Ngenge hinangango hoki ai au ki Te motu o Te mamao e… aue aue… hokimai ki Te henua o taua e.
Hano e, Te nga’a pisi  ki Te tai e e mamao e,
Manatu hoki ai au kite one o ahanga e..Aue Aue, hoki mai ki Te henua o taua e.

When moon disappears into the not so calm waters
I am missing my faraway island home 
Come back to the land of ours

Sun is setting to the far horizon 
Take my thoughts back to the lovely beach of Ahanga
Come back to the land of ours

 


4 thoughts on “Kaumaakonga: Taoba

    1. Hi Randy, I know the album is available from the iTunes store and in CD and digital form on Amazon. I assume it’s on the other major platforms as well.
      Happy Passover!
      Alan

      Like

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