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The Kailao is a Tongan cultural dance.


It is usually performed at public and private ceremonies. The men, bearing stylized clubs (pate kailao), dance in a fierce manner that emulates fighting, all to the accompaniment of a beaten slit drum or a tin box, which sets the tempo. Unlike most other Tongan dances, the kailao is performed without singing. The sequences of movements to be performed by the group are called by the lead dancer, who will give the name of the sequence, then will signal when to do it. The sequences can involve mock combat between dancers, changes in formation, and tricks involving the pate kailao themselves. The dance displays the dancers' discipline, obedience and skill with their weapon. A similar Rotuman dance, also derived from the 'Uvean original is similarly titled "ka'loa".

The Sipi Tau, performed by the 'Ikale Tahi, the national rugby union team before each match, is a form of Kailao.

Song: Sipi Tau

Tonga College students performing a kailao for the King's 70th birthday (1988)


ʻEi e!, ʻEi ē!
Teu lea pea tala ki mamani katoa
Ko e ʻIkale Tahi kuo halofia.
Ke ʻilo ʻe he sola mo e taka
Ko e ʻaho ni te u tamate tangata,
ʻA e haafe mo e tautuaʻa
Kuo huʻi hoku anga tangata.
He! he! ʻEi ē! Tū.
Te u peluki e molo mo e foueti taka,
Pea ngungu mo ha loto fitaʻa
Te u inu e ʻoseni, pea kana mo e afi
Keu mate ai he ko hoku loto.
Ko Tonga pe mate ki he moto
Ko Tonga pe mate ki he moto.
Ko Tonga

English Translation by Sione Ngahe

Aye, ay! Aye, ay!
I shall speak to the whole world
The Sea Eagles is famished unfurl.
Let the foreigner and sojourner beware
Today, destroyer of souls, I am everywhere
To the halfback and backs
Gone has my humanness.
Hey! hey! Aye ay! Zap.
Maul and loose forwards shall I mow
And crunch any fierce hearts you know
Ocean I drink, fire I dine
To death or victory my will is fine.
That's how Tonga dies to her motto
To her motto Tonga gives all.

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