Obviously a lot of the messages start with wanting to borrow/buy/enquiry about making a tuiga.
Then, a fine mat, any fine mat.
Then, the questions start coming fast and furiously about:
-What should a taupou wear?
-Where can we get a nifo oti? and does she really need one?
-Who can weave us a fine mat?
- Can we have one of your tuigas but pay you nothing for it?
- Can we borrow one but can you drop it off?
-Why why why did my daughter/son have to go and get chosen???
- What else can we do?
So I thought, I'll explain it here and just cut and paste it from now on.
You have been chosen
Being chosen as the taupou (female) or manaia (male) is really great and exciting (cue, be proud of your child, pat on the back, not a ku'i). Being chosen generally means they are a great dancer
What does it mean?
Your child will be performing the main dance, which is called the taualuga. Thankfully, I'm also a Goddess of Dance so let me say this, the taupou/manaia's ability to dance that taualuga can make or break the entire performance, (no pressure at all). Taualuga means ceiling, and refers to the last last part of the fale(house) that is built. As soon as you throw on the taualuga, the job is done. So the taualuga performance is considered the grand finale and will be performed by the dancer, however, the whole group will be involved in singing, aiuli'ing, fuakaimi, clapping etc.
What do you wear?
A female/male who dances the taualuga could wear either a:
1. Fine fine mat (ie samoa/soft) or if you can't get one, any will do. It's not the end of the world if you can't find an old one. Any fine mat will have to do.
2. You could also wear a siapo, tapa cloth that has mamanu designs on it.
3. The third one which not many people outside of Samoa do, (but is actually the cheapest, most authentic and more meaningful, is....making it out of leaves.
4. A modern version made of fabric.
5. The forth option is combining any of the 4 above.
What's the damage, money wise?
At the recent Polyfest, I just about wept at the amount of money some dancers' families had to spend. One had forked out over $3000 for the dancer's teuga, most of which were items bought from shops or from Samoa. I will reiterate this here, It doesn't have to be that way.
If you actually combine materials as I've mentioned above, then the cost doesn't have to be excessive.
Leaves. Are. Free.
What if I borrow people's stuff?
Perfect. That means you're not having to pay for everything yourself.
But, keep in mind that whatever you borrow, is precious to that family/person.
Treat everything with care. And most importantly, RETURN it right away.
Before lending my tuiga/nifo oti/ fine mat or whatever other items, what should I do?
From my experience, if there are 10 Samoans in a room and all borrowed something of the above, 6 will not return it until you chase them up, 1 will do a runner with it, 2 will return it late and damaged and if you're lucky, one will return it on time, undamaged.
Keep this complicated scientific formula in mind, because I'll be the first to say, "Told ya!"
Obviously I've been screwed over so many times I've now lost all sense of diplomacy.
My lessons learned are simply this:
- I no longer encourage lending.
- Just because someone is your family relation of friend, doesn't mean they'll look after it well.
- Charge. And lay down the terms and conditions before lending.
While we're at it. please please taupous
Do not imitate a now well know ninja like fa'ataupati that shows up on youtube as part of your siva. That is comtemporary. Not siva samoa. Save it for your comtemporary performance in your room.
Is all this stress worth it?
When should I start planning
Two months ago. Not 2 days before the performance.
Advice for aspiring taupous/manaia
-Tell your family right away that you've been chosen.
-Use the opportunity to learn more about your culture, siva, let your family know what's up.
-Don't be a dramaqueen/king about all this, its expensive and stressful for your family, so don't be a dick.
-Enjoy the experience and be grateful and lastly, thank everyone who has helped you with your preparations.
-Email me if you want to order a fabulous tuiga or like my FB page, Tuiga by FotuoSamoa. (No last minute requests allowed thanks).
Goddess of Taualuga and all things amazing.