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Song for the King -- Vika and Linda Bull interview

Video clip synopsis – Vika and Linda Bull talk about the importance of their heritage and connection to Tonga.
Year of production - 2005
Duration - 2min 51sec
Tags - Australian History, Pacific region, Tonga, civics and citizenship, culture, globalisation, identity, multiculturalism, oral history, see all tags

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Song for the King -- Vika and Linda Bull interview

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About the Video Clip

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This interview with Vika and Linda Bull was recorded for the Pacific Stories website produced in 2005. Vika and Linda Bull are Melbourne-based singing siblings and are two of Australia’s most popular performers. Their mother is Tongan and father Australian. Linda and Vika explore the rich diversity of their Tongan cultural heritage through their songs and creative life.

Pacific Stories is a co-production between Film Australia’s National Interest Program and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Presented by Vika and Linda Bull, the project explores the geography, history and culture of the South Pacific.

www.abc.net.au/pacificstories

Background Information

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The independent Kingdom of Tonga is the only monarchy among the Pacific nations.

King Taufa’ahau Tupou 1V, inherited the throne from his mother Queen Salote Tupou 111 in 1965. King Taufa’ahau Tupou was much revered by his subjects and under his rule people enjoyed stability and prosperity. Despite his popularity, there was, during the latter part of his reign, some questioning of this system of government, where power and privilege are inherited. A pro-democracy movement argued that as Tonga modernised and changed, so too should the form of government include more participation in decision-making by all of its citizens.

Modernisation and change in Tonga has also included Tongans migrating in large numbers seeking work and better wages. The number of Tongans living outside Tonga (particularly in Australia and New Zealand) is now larger than the population at home – 110,000 Tongans are spread across three dozen inhabited islands and even more live abroad, mainly in the US, New Zealand and Australia. The main source of national revenue in Tonga today is in the remittances sent home by Tongans residing overseas. To what extent this continues in the future will depend on the younger generation many of whom now have stronger cultural influences from their adopted countries. These people with Tongan heritage may not be treated as ‘true Tongans’ when they visit Tonga — due to language inadequacies or cultural differences.

This video clip features popular singers Linda and Vika Bull. Their mother was one of the first Tongans to travel to Australia. Initially she moved to study nursing with the aim of returning to Tonga; however she married and remained in Australia. Linda and Vika, tell how in 1994 they were invited to perform for King Taufa’ahau Tupou 1V’s 75th birthday celebrations. They speak about identity, language and music and the importance to them of their heritage and connection to Tonga.

King Taufa’ahau Tupou IV died on 10 September 2006. His 41-year reign made him one of the world’s longest-serving sovereigns. He was succeeded by his eldest son King George Tupou V.

Classroom Activities

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  1. Why do you think it was so important for Linda and Vika’s parents to take their children back to Tonga for a visit? Do you think a wish to return for a visit to their original homeland is a common experience of many immigrants to Australia?
  2. What issues did Linda and Vika face when they returned to Tonga? Why do you think they were issues for them? How did they try to overcome them?
  3. Linda and Vika Bull use music to record some aspects of their culture. How can music contribute to the oral traditions of History? Are there other ways of recording historical events? Give some examples. Discuss in class which ways of recording past events appear to be better than others.
  4. Try to get a copy of a Linda and Vika Bull CD. Analyse the words in their songs. In what ways do they use their music to reflect on their Tongan origins?

Further Resources

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Go to Pacific Stories Learning for Interactive Compass Map with facts about the Pacific region.

For interview transcripts, books and references for this Digital Resource go to Pacific Stories, choose Fit for a King, select INDEX, and go to MORE INFORMATION.