Ruth Toumu’a

“My father is from the Eastern Highlands of Papua New Guinea. My mother is from the north of the South Island of New Zealand, from a farming valley next to Nelson. My husband is from the Kingdom of Tonga, from the main island of Tongatapu. We have two children. I currently live and work in Tongatapu at the University of the South Pacific, as a fellow in curriculum and literacy.

I see myself as a global gypsy … there are a lot of places that have a pull on me, but none that I would call ‘home’.”

A gateway

At times, like a strand superfluous to an already woven mat, I ask, ‘what is my place in this space?  What is my way in?’

My husband told me one day that our api, our home, is special … It was the gateway, one of nine, to a kolotau, a fortress [and] the last to surrender.

“I’d been talking with my Mum about family trees, just that whole sense of wanting to connect with the past, but then the more I thought about it I was thinking, ‘what past and whose past do I actually connect with?’

Maybe it’s the experience of a lot of multi-cultural people, especially those from mixed race backgrounds, that you are almost always in a search for places of belonging.

In the search for a story I kind of feel like I’m patching together other people’s stories, but at the same time worried about doing that because, you know, what’s really mine?  What do I have the liberty to take and adapt?

This is my personal experience of this place.”