The name, "Tala-'o-Save", translates into the "Principle of Shaveh", and is based on the Biblical reference to the Shaveh Valley (mentioned in Genesis 14), south of the city of Jerusalem in modern-day Israel, where the Hebrew patriarch, Abraham, was received and blessed by the High Priest of the Most High God, Melchizedek. The name and its context denote the initiative's vocational "principle" with regard to the preservation and perpetuation of Tongan indigenous arts, culture, language and history within the fabric of wider Australia society, in that just as Abraham reciprocated Melchizedek's blessing by offering the best of his possessions as a tithe, the Siasi Uesiliana Tau'ataina 'o Tonga 'i 'Aositelelia (The Methodist Church of Tonga in Australia) has a duty to reciprocate the opportunities afforded her by the Lord through the Commonwealth by serving the country with the best of its cultural and linguistic capital.
The Australian District of the Church strives (in addition to its spiritual duties and functions), through the Tala-'o-Save Initiative, to be a dynamic agent for inculcating the Tongan identity, consciousness and solidarity within the expatriate community in Australia, and for promoting the culture and language among fresh generations of Tongan-Australians. We are especially focused on our duties toward the youth, the future of the Tongan-Australian community, who must confront the inevitable challenge of reconciling their Tongan heritage with their Australian identity and the western way of life. The initiative is under the oversight of the Australian District's Potungāue Ako Faka-Kalisitiani (Christian Education Department), which administers the human developmental affairs of the Church. The District has 37 congregations located throughout New South Wales, Australian Capital Territory, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, Northern Territory and Western Australia, with each congregation having its own youth group. Thus, a total of 37 youth groups throughout the Commonwealth of Australia are under the care of the Christian Education Department, and benefit from the Tala-'o-Save Initiative.
The Department has outlined the following phases to be realised through the Tala-'o-Save Initiative:
Early prevention programmes for young members of the Tongan community, especially those who are vulnerable to forces which may lead them to a life of crime, isolation and despair .
Transitional programmes for those who are currently within the criminal justice system; and,
Social programmes that aim at promoting good citizenship and community participation among our young people.
These phases reflect our conviction that it is God's will for Christians to 'live peaceably with all men' (Romans 12:18). Thus, by building up the integrity and morale of the Tongan community in Australia, we hope to contribute to the overall cohesion of Australian society, by which God is glorified and His will fulfilled. This is the objective for the Tala-'o-Save Initiative.
Notwithstanding the seeming loftiness of our goals, we have already begun cultivating a range of programmes within the community that help in achieving our objective:
Programme 1. Teaching the Tongan Language
Teaching the language to our young people is instrumental in preserving the Tongan culture, which is historically an oral-based culture. Sunday-school classes for children and youth, between the ages of 3 - 21 years, are currently running in most of the 37 congregations within the District, every weekend. These classes are conducted in the Tongan vernacular, with the syllabi and all other teaching and reading materials published in the Tongan language and printed locally by the District. We are currently planning to expand this programme by establishing formal language classes that would function autonomously from the local Sunday schools, to be conducted by educators approved by the core management committee.
Programme 2. Preserving the Tongan Culture
On January of each year, traditional dance practices for the youth commence in preparation for the annual District Meeting, which is usually held in April, shortly before the Holy Week of Easter. The schedule for the District Meeting include cultural performances by the youth groups from each circuit of the District. Likewise, the programme for our Anti-Drug and Alcohol Campaign rallies, which are held at the end of every year, are integrated with traditional entertainment prepared by the youth of each circuit.
Programme 3. Ministry through Music
Music is an effective tool in conveying themes and messages to the youth. Brass band practices are held every Tuesday at the SUTTA Church Estate, Berkshire Park. Additionally, youth choir practices for occasions such as the Children's May Festival, which is held on the first Sunday of May as an ecclesial prelude to Family Week that includes Mother's Day and Tongan Father's Day (held on the second and third Sundays, respectively), and choral competitions during the Anti-Drug and Alcohol Campaign keep our young people participating in communal activities, ensuring that there is no opportunity for social isolation that facilitates criminal activity and association.
Our core management committee consists of the:
Superintendent Minister of the District.
Head of the Christian Education Department.
Presbyters of the Australian District.
Youth leaders from each circuit.
Secondary members who may be appointed by the core management committee include:
Youth representatives from each circuit.
Tongan culture & language educators.