24 Jul 2013

Rivalry between two Tonga colleges needs to be tackled at highest level

5:04 pm on 24 July 2013

The chair of the New Zealand-based Tonga Advisory Council, Melino Maka, says the rivalry between Tonga and Tupou Colleges has to be tackled at the highest level - by the government and the church.

Dozens of Tupou College students are facing charges after a man was seriously hurt in a clash at a private residence in Nuku'alofa last week.

Mr Maka, who is a former student of Tupou College, says the rivalry between the two schools is ingrained and has been so for many years. He spoke to Don Wiseman.

MELINO MAKA: And I've seen this thing happen, and I always try to avoid rivalry to the extreme. Nowadays it is more dangerous because of the use of the social media. If you look at the incident that happened in Tonga a lot involved using social media, texting where to meet up, and hose things like that, I think the police is so far behind.

DON WISEMAN: I think, though, there have been these clashes and there have been minor fights by comparison. But this latest one is terrible in terms of the impact its had with one man critically ill. So what's the solution?

MM: Maybe the best way for those two schools to lend a lesson is to expel them from any sports activity, because that will really hit them hard. Those two schools, they're very proud of their traditional sports, how they produce the top Tongan sportspeople.

DW: If you're punishing the school, then... You're suggesting that it's the school itself that's driving this rivalry, or the schools themselves that are driving the rivalry.

MM: Yes, because the way the school is, it doesn't have the capacity or ability to manage the students outside the school area when they enter into Nuku'alofa. If you look back at the past history, how some of these terrible events happened in the past, actually it was derived from after a sports event or leading up to a sports event. Because as I travel back and forward to Tonga, I see it all the time. In the bus stop on Friday afternoon it's become unbearable for the police to control it. And I think with the use of the social media, some of these kids are very sophisticated the way they plan and attack and it led to this horrible thing that happened in Tonga last week. And I think what we really to do is bring in some of the key people at church level and government level, because Tonga College is run by the government and Tupou College is run by the Free Weslyan Church. Because in the past they came in, they had a summit or a session, and they have a prayer session and after that they go back. And if there's no follow-up to this, you can guarantee that this will happen time and time again. But what we want to do is look at a solution to stop because this family at the bed of this student in hospital, we don't want that to repeat again.