In Storms

In this storm, we need you to focus on surviving – you are a survivor, people love and care for you (even if they don’t seem too).

All you need to do is keep your head above water.  Hold on and have faith.   Reach out and talk to someone.


If you need someone to talk to:  for “Straight up answers when life sucks”



Afaa ka’e tofu

Our Tupuna remind us that after the storm always comes the calm “Afaa ka’e tofu”.

All we need to do is to get through the storm.

Sometimes suicide is seen as a way of escaping the storm – but suicide doesn’t stop the storm, and it makes the storm much much worse for those left in it.


Drifting in the tide

Another Tongan proverb refers to “Hange’e ha tahi hu’a”– on the incoming tide – meaning you have no control over things.  We can feel like we have no control and are being pulled in directions we don’t want to go – this can be by others, by events, by things or by our own thoughts.

When we see someone do something harmful we may feel drawn to do the same.  The current may feel like it is drawing us.  There are many ways of dealing with our pain without hurting ourselves.   To honor a friend is to live your life.

Our tupuna believed we were born with purpose and destiny – your destiny is not your friends destiny.

You have a purpose.

Waves in a dark sea

Often we feel swamped by waves of things happening to us. Often when we are swamped we can’t see things around us.  We can’t breathe easily, we feel trapped. This makes us feel hopeless.

Feeling hopeless is a warning that we need to reach out.

A Hawaiian proverb warns us that we are vulnerable “Uliuli kai holo ka ma no” –  where the sea is dark, sharks swim.

A dark sea may refer to feeling hopeless, where we are vulnerable.  Hopeless is just a feeling. It is not how the world is. There is always a solution, an answer, a shift, a change.  There is always a way out of the water.

Ru the voyager

This Cook Island story is about Ru the voyager.  Ru took his people to find new land. They followed the star Tapukitea.  Although well prepared, it was not an easy sail.

Many difficulties struck them, a giant whirlpool, a field water spouts, a huge rock – yet they sailed forward. A massive hurricane hit them, lasting for days and they lost all hope.  In the middle of the howling wind, pounding rain, and churning waves, Ru called out to Tangaroa to guide them to safety.

The storm calmed, the people sighted stars, and sailed to a land now know as Aitutaki.

This story speaks to that prayer, to the faith of Ru and his people.

Nga fetu

Our tupuna encourage us when we are drowning and when we are hopeless, to look to the skies to find

“Te etu o to kotu atu” – the star of your divinity.

Focus on the star that will take you to land – “katinamou ki runga i te ‘etu te ka akatae ‘iakoe ki te ‘enua”

Drawing experience from others

The first time we experience anything it feels ginormous.

The first wave is the biggest.   The first time we go through something, we often don’t know what to do, what to expect or how to do it.

Sometimes we need to ask for help – especially when we never experienced these things.

You can swim, you can survive

Kaukau refers to swimming or treading water.  This is skill we can get better at, the more we do it.  If we learn to float first.

Sometimes we pretend that we can swim – when actually we can’t, because we don’t want other people to notice that we are not ok or we think we can swim further than we actually can.

This is about knowing your limits


Often we have not experienced emotions as intense as this.   This is the first time we have felt really overwhelmed, really alone, and really down.  You have survived storms before – maybe not this bad.

In Tongan, the word for anchor is “Taula”, as is the word for people who are experts, who because of their experience in these situations can anchor others.

Our Tupuna encourage us to look to those who have experienced really bad times, to see how they survived.

People who have successfully sailed in storms were referred to as “Taula” – experts – who have successfully learnt to say alive and how to live.


Sometimes our Taula are people who have training and are professionals.  These people can be social workers, counselors, school guidance people, or therapists.

Without these people we can be ‘Like a boat that has lost its anchor” -“Le va’a ua motu ma le taula”.

In a storm often we feel we don’t have the energy.  Whatever way, we need to reach out, to get help.

Talking helps – talking to anybody that will listen but especially talking to Taula.

“Pili e tauhala”  A small rope dragging from the stern, means when someone finds themselves in trouble, but is still in a position to be saved – no matter how far you get you are like “Pili e tauhala”

Click here to find service phone numbers.

When we are tired

When we are tired, when we are worn out – all you need to do is get to a Vaka, a place of safety, out of the water.

“Sometimes we worry about what our parents will say – like she’s an attention seeking, sometimes they might even be angry. Yeah they might be but they used to get angry when you tried to run away as toddler, and when you would disappear in the mall. If you can’t go to your parents talk to another adult you trust”

Po fakafitaauli

Some times this storm is not the only storm you are surviving and it becomes overwhelming really quickly. Even if you have been really strong and survived things before, it can feel like you can’t survive this wave.

When you have survived many things, and are tired, it is extra important that you get somewhere safe, with safe people who can support you and give you rest.  Time to get out of the water and onto the Vaka.

Tell yourself that “all I have to do is get to the vaka”.  Our words are powerful.  What ever we say over and over again to ourselves becomes stronger.

As our Tupuna said sometimes it is about “Po fakafitaauli” Steering at night.  Persisting through difficulties.