Aerial photo of tsunami devastation in NIuatoputapu. Photo/ABC

Online users of Niuan kāinga and decent have reshared on Facebook a song composed to remember the tsunami that killed nine people in 2009.

The tsunami struck on September 30 that year and caused major damage to the island of Niuatoputapu.

The song, ‘Hiva ʻo e Peaukula,’ was recorded in 2013 by the ʻUtufekituʻa String Band.

Leilani Pesa Fainga’a shared the song on her Facebook page and dedicated it to the victims.

As Kaniva news reported in 2015, the song begins with a fakatapu – an expression used at the beginning of Tongan songs usually made by the punake (poet) asking permission from those who may have families who died in the disaster to talk about what happened that day.

The poet referred to how the day was clear and obviously no one expected that Mother Nature would turn violently against the island.

The song lamented the dead and how the tragic marks left by the tsunami on the beaches and inland.

The poet also mentioned how the islanders reacted helplessly when the tsunami hit. The song says the most emotional event was when people had to run up the mountain, with many carrying children and old people, while screaming and shouting to others.

Some were able to make the climb before the big waves caught them, but it was unfortunate that those who died could not make it, the song said.

The poet also recounted some important places on the island where the waves swept inland. He said these places had been engraved in the memory of the island to the end of time.

Before the tsunami hit local radio stations in Tonga broadcast warnings that a tsunami was possible and that people should move away from coastal villages.

However, police said many locals claimed there would be no big waves and did not move inland.

The tsunami also caused substantial damage and major loss of life in Samoa, where more than 180 people died in Pagopago and Apia.


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