Mata-poto pea loto-poto: A leadership tool of Tongan cognitive and spiritual intelligence

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Sione Tu'itahi. Photo/Kaniva News

Discourse on Nation Building (Part 5)

By Sione Tu’itahi

(Educator, writer and Executive Director of the Health Promotion Forum of New Zealand)

As Tongan kāinga (extended families) and communities around the world move to take greater control of the challenges that influence their material prosperity and spiritual wellbeing, the need for good governance and leadership naturally increases. Certain concepts in indigenous Tongan governance and leadership can contribute to enriching their leadership experience and their strive for excellence in all things.

Two such concepts are matapoto and lotopoto. This column briefly explores the concepts.

On one level, matapoto means being witty and shrewd while lotopoto means wise. On a deeper plane, matapoto means being astute and highly intelligent whereas lotopoto means being judicious and wise with a high ethical and spiritual consciousness.

When used conjointly, they refer to a state of high, multi-dimensional intelligence, wisdom and consciousness.

Unpacking these two concepts and examining their coherent connectedness can contribute to the advancement of Tongan leadership in all spheres and levels.

Three morphemes, mata, loto and poto, make up the compound terms of matapoto and lotopoto. Knowing their basic meanings is one starting point for analysing and understanding their significance and utility.

Mata has a number of meanings that include eyes, face, representative, surface, point, green and unripe. Loto means the mind, the centre, depth, and spirit. Poto means wise, discerning, intelligent, and clever.

At the social level, mata not only means the eyes or face of human beings but it also refers to the point of interface between two formations such as matatau/the vanguard of an army or matāpule, the representative and orator for a high chief.

In terms of human relationship, mata stands as a symbol for the character of the individual. A person who loves and cares, for instance, is referred to as tokotaha mata’ofa/loving face, while an uncaring person is regarded as mata’ita’e’ofa/unloving face. A person who cares for the wellbeing of her extended family and community is known as matakainga/extended-family caring face. In the field of strategic leadership, a visionary and forward thinking leader is known as matalōloa/long distance vision.

Referring to human character, loto means heart and inner being. For instance, a person who is courageous is called lotolahi or lototo’a/brave heart, while a coward is called lotosi’i/fainthearted or lotofo’i/vanquished heart. A loving person is referred to as loto’ofa whereas a heart full of envy is called lotokovi.

On an abstract level, the concept of loto means interior such as lotofale/interior of a house. When reduplicated, it means depth as in moana loloto/deep ocean.

Exploring connections between mata and loto can reveal the systemic coherence among these Tongan concepts on a number of levels and dimensions. At the abstract level mata means outside, exterior or surface whereas loto is interior/depth. In human and education terms, mata symbolises the mind while loto stands for the heart. Additionally, from a spiritual dimension, mata symbolises the material whereas loto refers to the spiritual.

Furthermore, from a Tongan educational perspective, the on-going interaction between mata/mind and loto/heart is central to the learning and development of a person. Whereas mata refers to cognition and knowing, loto is the seat of emotion and has a central role in a person’s decision-making.

For instance, to agree to is to ‘loto ki ai.’ This strongly suggests that decision-making is both a mind and heart process. To motivate a Tongan person to learn or act, the loto/heart or spirit is the key. This is best illustrated by the old Tongan maxim of “Tonga mo’unga ki he loto”/the mountain of Tonga is the heart.

When the Tongan’s heart is motivated and moved, it will demonstrate qualities such as mafana/warmth, and that person is self-driven to achieve goals at high standards.

In practice, a person who is matapoto is one who is intelligent and discerning of trends and situations, and capitalises on them. In sports, for instance, a boxer who is matapoto is the one who outsmarts his opponent and ultimately wins.

Likewise, a student who pro-actively seeks help from teachers and others, and therefore, become academically successful is said to be matapoto. Similarly, in a socio-political and economic context, a matapoto leader is the one who strategises, takes risks, and, therefore, pro-actively explores possibilities and creates opportunities

Lotopoto literally means wise heart. It refers not only to being intelligent and knowledgeable, but, more importantly, to using intelligence and knowledge under all conditions for the right purpose. Also, it points to a depth of wisdom that has intellectual and spiritual dimensions. Further, it indicates that a person who is lotopoto is one that acts wisely for the collective wellbeing rather for his personal gain and individual advancement only.

As shown above, there is a complementary relationship between matapoto, the knowledge of the mind, and lotopoto, the wisdom of the heart. While the mind can be knowledgeable and shrewd, the heart weighs options and decides what may be right and, therefore, what may be done.

Through the lenses of matapoto and lotopoto, it can be suggested that the use of ‘ilo/knowledge for the benefit of society – a hallmark of a being poto – is largely an outcome of educating the loto/heart rather than the mind only. In other words, central to the notion of Tongan education is a clear and dynamic coherence between teaching the mind, and educating the heart.

In today’s globalised society, Tongans generally want to live as Tongans and also be able to contribute to greater society. And while they strive to achieve material prosperity, they also hope to maintain the balance by retaining their spiritual prosperity.

Tongan Indigenous tools such as matapoto and lotopoto can certainly help them to attain such goals and to augment the knowledge and wisdom gained from other sources such as those of the East and West, science and religious traditions.

©Sione Tu’itahi 2018

Email: stuitahi@xtra.co.nz

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  1. Loto-poto pea Mata-poto: Ko e ongo pou tuliki ki he Taki mo e Tufunga Fonua Lelei

    Fa’u ‘e Sione Tu’itahi
    (Faiako, fa’u tohi mo faiongoongo pea kaungā taki he mala’e ‘o e mo’ui mo e langa fonua ‘i Aoteroa Nu’usila)

    “Ko e fakapotopoto mo hono ngaahi kupu mahu’inga ‘e fā, ko e sīpinga mo e me’angāue fisifisimu’a mo fakatoukatea he tu’unga e kāinga mo e fonua ki he taki fononga…pea ko e loto mo e ‘atamai lelei, ‘oku fanau’i mei ai e fakakaukau lelei, ‘oku tupu mei ai e ngāue ‘oku fakahoko he founga lelei, pea ma’u ai ‘a e ola lelei ma’a hono kotoa. Ko e ngāue lelei ‘oku fakahoko he laumālie lelei ma’a e fonua mo māmani kotoa, ko e lotu lelei ia ki he ‘Otua.”

    Ko e kupu faka’osi ena ‘eku talanoa he konga fā ‘o ‘etau talanoa langa fonua, ‘a ia na’a ku lave ai ki he kaveinga ko e fakapotopoto. ‘Oku ou fie hoko atu ai he konga nima, ‘o kei taumu’a pē ke langovaka ki he’etau langa mo tufunga fonua he tapa kotoa – mei he kāinga ki he fonua mo māmani kotoa.
    Koe’uhi ko ‘ene kāinga ofi mo e fakapotopoto, pea koe’uhi ko ‘ene vete ange mo ukufi loloto ‘a e ‘uhinga ‘o e fakapotopoto mo hono ngāue’aki ki he taki lelei, ‘oku ou fie lave ki he kupu’i lea ko e ‘mata-poto pea loto-poto.’ Ko e kupu’i lea ‘oku tau fa’a lea’aki ki ha taha pe ni’ihi ‘oku lava ke nau ‘ilo vave pea puke leva ‘a e faingamālie ‘o ngāue’i ki he’etau lelei fakakātoa.

    Ka kimu’a ia ‘oku ou fie lave nounou ki he ngaahi fehu’i kuo a’utaki mai ke u talanoa ange ki ha ola ‘o hano ngāue’aki e founga ‘o e fakapotopoto ‘e he kakai Tonga. Te u tali nounou pē ‘i he founga ‘e ua, ‘o makatu’unga he’eku ngaahi fakatotolo, ‘o lave ki he fakapotopoto ‘a e vahefonua Ha’apai, pea mo e taukei ‘a e ni’ihi taautaha ‘i Tonga mo tu’apule’anga.

    ‘I he tu’unga fakavahe fonua, ‘oku fakapotopoto e vahe fonua kotoa ‘o Tonga, ka ‘oku ‘iloa lahi taha ‘a e kāinga Ha’apai he tapa ko eni ‘etau nofo. Neongo e lahi e ngaahi ‘uhinga, ka ko ‘enau hohoko fefuki mo e faingata’a ‘i honau tukui motu iiki mo maomaonganoa, na’e makatu’unga ai e fakapotopoto e kāinga ko ia.
    Hoko e si’i honau kelekele mo e vaha folau pea toutou ‘ahia ‘e he afā ke tu’uteki ma’u pē honau ‘atamai mo e loto ke puke ‘a e faingamālie kotoa ‘oku ala ma’u he mo’ui, kau ai e lotu, ako mo e ngāue, ‘o fakakukafi ai kae’oua kuo ola. Ko e fakapotopoto ia.

    ‘I he hake ‘a e lotu mo e ako mei ‘Iulope he senituli 19 ki Tonga, na’e vave ‘a e fa’aki ki ai ‘a Ha’apai, ‘o hangē ko e Kauvai Hā’ano. Kuo holoi to’utangata ai honau tokolahi he kaungā langa ‘o e fonua ‘i he tapa kotoa. ‘Oku kei tu’u ‘i Nuku’alofa ‘a e ngaahi ‘api tupu’a ‘o e kāinga ko ia, ko e ngaahi nofo’anga ako ma’a honau ngaahi to’utangata, hangē ko e ngaahi hala ‘api hanga ki Teufaiva, mo e Hala Tauafa’āhau, hanga atu ki he Lautohi Pule’anga Nuku’alofa, mo Fele’unga he Hala Tāufa ai pē, hanga atu ki Mala’e Kula. Ko ‘ete faka’eke’eke ‘a e ngaahi hako ‘o e ngaahi kāinga Ha’apai, kau ai e kāinga Hā’ano, ‘oku nau tuhu kotoa pē ki he fakapotopoto.

    ‘I he tu’unga taautaha, lolotonga ‘eku kei fai fatongia ‘I Tonga, na’a ku ma’u koloa mei he kau taki he tufunga fonua, hangē ko e fa’a fakatau folofola ki he ‘Ene ‘Afio ko Tāufa’ahau Tupou IV, pehē mo e fakatalanoa ki he kau fakafofonga Fale Alea hangē ko Joe Tu’ilatai Mataele, Papiloa Foliaki, Taniela Manu, Masao Paasi, Teisina Fuko mo e ‘Eiki Palēmia lolotonga, Samuela ‘Akilisi Pohiva. Na’a nau fakamamafa’i kotoa pē ‘a e kaunga lahi ‘a e fakapotopoto ki he lava me’a ‘a e Tonga. Mei he mala’e ‘o e fakatupu koloa, ‘oku toe mahu’inga ‘aupito ai ‘a e fakapotopoto ‘o hangē ko e fakatalanoa ne fa’a fai mo e kau takimu’a he pisinisi hangē ko Tevita Misa Fifita, Kelepi Tupou, Lesieli Vete, ‘Esafe Vuki mo Sione Hoko’ila Fua. Pehē foki mo e vakai ‘a e kau taki lotu ki he mahu’inga ‘o e fakapotopoto, ‘o hangē ko e fa’a talanoa mo ‘Epikopō Pātelisio Finau mo Faifekau Lōpeti Tāufa.

    Ko e talanoa tatau ki he fakapotopoto na’e fai mai ‘e he ongo sekelitali kuo mama’o atu ‘a e Pule’anga ko Taniela Hoko’ila Tūfui ( Lord Tūfui of Talaheu) mo Sione Kite. Na’a na talanoa ki he’ena ako ‘a e fakapotopoto ‘o kamata pē mei ‘api mei he he’ena takitaha mātu’a pea ko e me’afua ia na’e tokoni lahi ki he’ena faka’uto’uta e fatongia ki he fonua mo e pule’anga. Ko e ngaahi kupu mahu’inga foki eni hotau tala pe hisitōlia ‘oku te’eki ‘auliliki pea ‘oku mahu’inga ke fai. Ka e toloi atu mu’a ia ki he kaha’u ka tau foki ki he kaveinga.

    Ko e lea ‘mata-poto pea loto-poto’ ‘oku fatu ‘aki ‘a e kupu’i lea ‘e tolu: mata, loto mo e poto. Ko e mata ‘oku hanga ki tu’a, kae hanga ki he loloto ‘o e mo’ui ‘a e loto. ‘Oku heliaki e mata ki he ngāue ‘a e ‘atamai kae nofo e loto ki he mo’oni ‘o e laumālie. Ka ‘iloange kuo fakafenāpasi ke kafataha ‘a e loto mo e ‘atamai ‘aki ‘a e me’angāue ‘o e fakapotopoto, pea ‘oku tau he’aki leva ki ha taha ‘oku fotu mei ai e to’onga mo’ui ko ia ‘o pehē, ‘fielau he ‘oku mata-poto pea toe loto-poto.’

    Ne fai ‘a e fakatotolo mo e talafili ki he kupu’i lea ni mo hoku ngaahi kaungā fekumi he mala’e ‘o e ako pea makatu’unga ai e lea mo e fakamatala ne fakahoko pea tufaki he konifelenisi ki he ‘ilo tu’ufonua ‘a Tonga, ‘i he taha e ngaahi ‘univēsiti ‘i Nu’usila ni ‘i he ngaahi ta’;u kuo toki maliu atu. Ko e fakatotolo eni ‘oku ou okooko mei ai ke fai ‘aki ‘etau tālanga.

    Ko e anga maheni, ‘oku tau taku ko e mata-poto ko ha taha ‘oku vave ‘ene kilofi e faingamālie ke ma’u monū, pe hao ai. Ka ko e loto-poto ko e fakapotongi e faingamālie. ‘I hono ‘auliliki loloto ange, ko e mata-poto ko e mohu mo e maamangia e ‘atamai. Ka ko e loto-poto ko e fonuhia he lelei ‘a e laumālie ke faka’uli e mo’ui kakato.

    Ka ko hono fakalea mahino ange, ko e mata-poto mo e loto-poto, ko e ongo kupu ‘o e mo’oni pē ‘e taha, ‘oku na fengaue’aki vāofi. He’ikai ala fakamavahevahe. Ka ngāue fakataha ‘a e mohu ‘atamai mo e loto kuo fakamaamangia pea ‘e tonu e taki mo e langa fonua he tapa mo e tu’unga kotoa.

    Koe’uhi ke fakahoa pea ke mahu’inga mālie ‘a e loloto ‘o e kupu ko eni ‘etau ‘ilo mo e poto tu’ufonua, ‘oku ou fie lave ki he ‘ilo ne toki a’usia he fakatotolo faka-saienisi ‘a ‘Iulope he ngaahi ta’u ‘o e 1990 tupu, kau ki he ngaahi poto ‘o e ‘atamai mo e loto. ‘O hangē ko ia na’e vahevahe ‘e he mataotao ki he ngāue ‘a e ‘atamai ko Daniel Goleman mei he ‘Univesiti ‘o Yale ‘i ‘Amelika, ‘o ne talanoa ‘i he’ene ngaahi tohi ki he emotional intelligence, social intelligence, spiritual intelligence mo e ecological intelligence.

    ‘Oku ou tui ko ‘etau ‘ilo tu’ufonua ko eni ki he loto-poto mo e mata-poto, ko e ‘ilo anga tatau pē ia ne toki a’usia ‘e Goleman mo e ni’ihi kehe he’enau ngaahi fakatotolo kimui ni mai. Ko hono kehekehe pē he ne fuoloa ‘etau nofo mo ‘etau ‘ilo tu’ufonua ko eni, ‘o hangē pe ko ‘etau ngaahi ‘ilo tu’ufonua lahi te tau toe ako mei ai pea toe ‘aonga foki ki he kuonga ni mo e kaha’u na.

    Ka tau vakai ki ha ngaahi fakatātā ki he’etau faka’aonga’i ‘a e ongo kupu’i lea ni he’etau nofo-‘a-kāinga mo e langa fonua. ‘I he’etau talanoa ki he ’ulungāanga ‘oku tau vakai ai ko e tokotaha ‘ofa mo fietokoni ki he kāinga mo e fonua ‘oku tau ui ko e tokotaha mata-kāinga mo mata-‘ofa. Ka ko e tokotaha ‘oku ‘ofa-sio-me’a mo kumi pē hono faingamālie, ‘oku tau ui ko e tokotaha mata’i ta’e’ofa mo mata’i-kākā.

    Ka tau ka talanoa ki he taki lelei mo e langa fonua, ‘oku tau tapua ‘a e maa’imoa ola ‘a e tu’i ma’a e kaha’u e fonua ‘o pehē ‘oku ne langi mama’o. ‘O hangē foki ko ‘etau pehē ko e taki he kuonga mu’a ko Lo’au ko e tokotaha na’e mata-lōloa he na’a ne toka pē ‘i hono ‘api ko Ma’ananga ‘o vavanga ki he ngaahi me’a ‘e hoko mai he kaha’u ki he fonua. Tupu mei ai ‘etau lea ko e tokaima’ananga.

    ‘I he’etau hanga hake ‘o fifili ki he loto-poto, ‘oku tau vakai atu ko e loto ‘oku nofo ai e lelei mo e ongo kae’uma’ā ‘a e ivi ‘oku nau angi e ‘atamai ki he ngāue ‘e ola lelei ma’a e nofo. ‘Oku tau talanoa ai ki he loto-to’a, loto-‘ofa, loto-lelei. Ko hono fakalea mahino, ko e loto ‘oku kaunga lahi ki he’etau faitu’utu’uni. ‘O hangē ko ‘etau lea ‘ ko e loto pē Tonga ‘oku faingata’a.’ Ka ‘ikai poto’i-loto ha taha pea ‘oku tau vakai atu ki he loto-si’i, loto-kovi mo e loto-meheka ‘a ia he’ikai langa ai ha kāinga pe fonua ki ‘olunga.

    Neongo ‘oku fuonounou pē hono ‘auliliki heni ‘a e ongo fakakaukau mahu’inga ‘o e mata-poto mo e loto-poto, ka kuo ngali mahino fe’unga pē ia ke tau vakai ‘aki ki he fehu’i mahu’inga ‘oku hoko mai. ‘Oku ako’i mei fē ‘a e ‘atamai mo e loto ke poto?

    ‘Oku mahu’inga fau ‘a e fehu’i ko eni he ‘oku utua mai he ngaahi ‘aho ni ‘oku ‘ikai fe’unga ‘a e ‘atamai lelei mo e mata-poto ki he taki lelei he kāinga, fonua mo māmani. Tu’unga he fakapalataha ‘a e tufunga fonua he ngaahi fonua lahi ki he langa fakamatelie, makatu’unga he huluhulu fakatafa’aki taha ‘a e ‘atamai, kuo haveki ai hotau ‘atakai, pea tofanga he faingata’a lahi e laui miliona e kakai tupu mei he fekolo’aki he koloa mo e mafai.

    Pea ‘ikai ke tau melino ka ‘oku tau vātamaki. ‘Ikai ke tau fiefia ka tau fonu he mamahi. Pea neongo ‘a e hulu’ānoa e koloa ‘o e māmani ke fakalato e tefito’i fiema’u ki he ako, mo’ui mo e nofo’anga ‘a e tokotaha kotoa, ka ‘oku pukenimā ‘e he pēseti ‘e 10 ‘o e kakai ‘o māmani ‘a e pēseti ‘e 90 ‘o e koloa fakakātoa ‘o e māmani.
    Neongo ko e tali nounou ki he ako’anga ‘o e loto mo e ‘atamai ko e lotu mo e ako, ka ‘oku fiema’u ke tau toe vakai ofi ki ai.

    ‘Uluaki, ko ‘etau ma’unga ‘ilo mo e poto ‘oku fou mei he ngaahi ako’anga lalahi ‘e tolu – ‘a ia ko ‘etau lepa ‘ilo mo e poto tu’ufonua, ako faka-‘atamai mei he ngaahi fonua ‘o e Hihifo, mo e ngaahi tala ‘o e ngaahi lotu ‘oku tui ‘Otua mo’ui, tautefito ki he Lotu Kalisitiane.

    Kuo mei 200 ta’u ‘etau fakafalala ki he ako faka’atamai ne hake mei he ngaahi fonua ‘o e Hihifo, ‘a ia na’e kei vāofi ai e ako’i e ‘atamai mo e teu’i e loto ke fakatou poto. Ka kuo ‘ikai toe pehē ia he kuonga ni. Kuo mavaeua e teu faka’atamai mo e teu fakalaumālie he ngaahi ako’anga lahi he ngaahi fonua ‘o e Hihifo. ‘Oku ‘uhinga e ‘ngaahi fonua ‘o e Hihifo’ ki he ngaahi fonua ‘oku makatu’unga ‘enau mo’ui he siviliase faka-‘Iulope, hangē ko Nu’usila, ‘Aositelēlia, ‘Amelika, Pilitānia mo e ngaahi fonua kehe ‘i ‘Iulope .

    Ko hono mo’oni kuo fakangalo atu e ako faka’ulungaanga pe fakalaumālie mei he ngaahi ako’anga ‘o e Hihifo. Ko kimautolu ‘oku faifatongia he ngaahi ako’anga faka-‘unvēsiti ‘i Nu’usila ni ‘oku mau fa’a talanoa ki he hoko e mavaeua ko eni ke faingata’ia ai e fānau ako Tonga mo e fānau ako Pasifiki kehe.

    Ko e mavaeua ko eni ‘oku ne toe uesia mo e ngaahi pou tuliki ‘o e ako’i e loto mo e ‘ulungaanga pe fakalaumālie. ‘Oku afuhia lahi ai mo e ngaahi lao he ngaahi pule’anga ne makatu’unga kimu’a he tui fakalotu. ‘Oku puputu’u heni e ngaahi fonua lahi, ‘o kau ai mo Tonga, pea ‘oku ngalulu ai e ngaahi pou tuliki ‘etau nofo faka-fonua mo faka-māmani lahi.

    ‘I he’ene pehē ’e toe faingata’a ange ‘a e fononga ‘a e kāinga mo e fonua, ‘o tatau ‘i Tonga mo tu’apule’anga, kapau he’ikai matapoto pea loto-poto ‘a e kau taki fononga he tu’unga mo e tapa kotoa ke filifili faka-potopoto ‘a e ngaahi kaveinga mo e ngaahi taumu’a ke tukufua ki ai e fononga he senitlui 21. Kuopau ke kapakau ua ‘a e loto mo e ‘atamai. Kuopau ke na maama tatau kae tonu e faka’uli. Kuopau ke napangapangamālie ‘a e tu’umālie fakamatelie mo e koloa’ia fakalaumālie, kae taufonua e tufunga mo e fononga. He’ikai ‘aonga e fa’a hiki to’ofua mai ‘a tu’apule’anga, ‘o hangē pē kapau te tau fakafalala noa ki he lotu mo e tukufakaholo kae ‘ikai filihi mo fakafo’ou ke hoa mo e ngaahi mafihunga ‘o e hala fononga.
    Tau lepa heke ai ka tau toki hoko atu.

    Tu’a ‘ofa atu
    ©Sione Tu’itahi 2018
    Email: stuitahi@xtra.co.nz