Lakena from lagoon Jy 1973


Viiki - Commemorative Songs

A major type of traditional music in Nanumea in times past was Viiki, short poetic songs commemorating the deeds of famous ancestors. These Viiki could be sung in several styles, including Fakanau style, Lautapatapa style, and Viiki style.

Often Viiki were performed by elders in household settings where people were gathered for wedding festivities, or for funeral gatherings. They could also be sung during women's group work sessions.


These recordings were made on cassette tapes, and have been digitized by us. We are gradually posting selections as we complete them -- check back from time to time to see what is new.

Mako Fakaseasea
Loto Mafi Women's group (Tape 7A) 5 Dec 1973, Nanumea
Mako of:
Kiti mo Ane, Saveu, Katalake and Levi
and two other songs:
Sae Ake te Mata (work song)
Oi Lalo ole Vai Singano

Listen to Loto Mafi Women's group (14 mins 30 sec)

Kalipa Taukave (1896-1976)

Kalipa was the daughter of Taukave of Nanumea and Meleane, who was part Nanumean but also of Nanumagan descent. Born in Nanumea in 1896, just three years after British warships "raised the flag" and brought Tuvalu into a new British Protectorate, Kalipa grew up at a time when not all Nanumeans had joined the LMS church. Traditional chiefly structures were still strong, and the old Viiki songs commemorating the lives and deeds of notable Nanumeans were still widely known and sung.

Kalipa married Nikotemo Nikotemo in Nanumea in 1914, at the start of the Great War (First World War). Kalipa and Niko adopted Nele (dau of Kato and Maiele) as their mokopunapuke, and in their later years they lived in the household of Nele and her husband Limoni.

Kalipa, who had a good memory and voice, was well-known as a singer of the old Viiki, and she sang them on different occasions during our stay in Nanumea in 1973-74 -- during that time she was one of the oldest people in Nanumea.

In this 12 minute tape selection Kalipa sings some Viiki in different styles, to demonstrate this. The recording here has the following Viiki, in this order:

Viiki of Taukave [father of Kalipa]
Viiki of Nikotemo [father of Kalipa's husband Niko]
Viiki of Nikotemo again, but with 3 futaga/verses
Viiki of Maluuluu [mua] done first in Lautapatapa style and then in Viiki style
Fakanau of Faga [father of Heiloa]
Fakanau of Tangaliki [Kalipa's father's mother's mother]
Fakanau of Hoa [father of Tepou]
Fakanau of Matakea [Hepikia's father's father]
Fananau of Hogivalu [Elika's father]
Fakanau of well known person, but Kalipa forgot the name
Fakanau of Malaki [Pae's first husband's father's father]

Listen to Viiki by Kalipa, Set 1 (12 minutes)
Recorded May 29, 1974 and Aug 14, 1974 at Kalipa's house

Note about the Viiki of Tangaliki (who we estimate was born about 1830). Kalipa explained that this Fakanau was composed by famous composer Laua before Kalipa was born.
Tagaliki, married to Teemai, used to go out to fish in the ocean in her canoe, alone [very unusual for a woman at that time]. All the young men would follow her to sea, attracted by her beauty and wishing to make love to her. This Vii is about Tagaliki and her reputation for independence. The words are:
O motou mea ni fulu katoa
E mailoga toku fulu mai muli.
E sulu i loto i toka mauli.
Fano ai e pula fia e tino.
Vaki mai ke oti oku luma.
Luma mai ke oti au vaki.
Tena e lavea te fenua.

Listen to Viiki by Kalipa, Set 2 (9 mins 30 sec)

This recording was made in Nanumea on the morning of 21 December, 1973 at the house of Hipa and Male in Haumaefa i Tai. The occasion was the celebration of the wedding of Tiligana and Lofale. People are gathered in the house supporting Tiligana. There has been faatele, viiki, and speeches.

Here we hear Kalipa, and joining her is Pulaka -- they are the oldest women here. There are 7 Viiki in all, in this order:
Paalipa, Kaitu & Paauku, Faga, Laukava, Tagaliki, Teemai, and last, Teakaka.

Toward the end of the tape Kalipa and Pulaka join voices and sing some of the songs over again as duets.

Notes to these Viiki - this information is from Kalipa:
Paalipa died tragically as a young woman in Nanumea in the 1800s (she is on Genealogy sheet 5, line +1). Song was composed by famous composer Laua before Kalipa was born. See more about Paalipa in next note.
Kaitu and Paauku This viiki was also composed by Laua before Kalipa was born (before 1896). Kaitu and Paauku were a married couple. Kaitu's brother was Pokia, whose daughter was Paalipa. The song recalls fondly how Paalipa used to come in the evening to say goodnight to Kaitu and Pauuku, who would hogi and send her home to her husband Toia. She was a favored fugao.
Laukava This viiki was composed by Laua in the late 1800s. Laukava, father of Tefaiva, was one of the most famous fishermen (along with Hogivalu) in Nanumea. This song celebrates his skill in Atu fishing, hihi atu.
Teakaka Composed by Laua in the late 1800s. This song commemorates the heroism of the Toa Teakaka when the Toa Moulogo was setting Kalihi adrift in a canoe to die, and Teakaka wanted to go help Kalihi, his tuaatina, but was talked out of it as he would surely die too. There is more to this story and we will publish it on this site in future.


As we digitize them we will post other Viiki/Mako singers' works here - check back from time to time.


Use of these Recordings: Nanumeans may download and use our recordings for personal use. Use for commercial or other purposes is prohibited without prior written permission. Audio Recordings Copyright ©Keith and Anne Chambers, 1973-2020, all rights reserved.


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Photo above is Lakena village, ahiga is on the right -- July 1973
Copyright ©2008-2020 -- Keith and Anne Chambers