Emil Wolfgang – Carrying the Pacific Island Storytelling Culture Forward.

Emil Wolfgang Tonga Storyteller

Press Play to hear Emil Wolfgang speaks on Carrying the Pacific Island Storytelling Culture Forward on the Art of Storytelling with Brother Wolf.

Press Play to hear Emil Wolfgang speaks on Carrying the Pacific Island Storytelling Culture Forward on the Art of Storytelling with Brother Wolf.

Emil Wolgang spoke at length on the role that storytelling can play in pre-industrial culture in the island culture of the pacific. Using stories as both a way of sharing knowledge of environment and cultural identity.


Emil is a member of the Church of Latter Day Saints (Mormons), For his two years of missionary service, he was surprised to be sent to Tonga (his ethnic root, but he had never been there). He was intrigued by the traditional rituals and culture he found there.

He went on to marry a Hawaiian, settled in the small valley of Waihole on Oahu’s Windward side (famous for raising taro), earned a Master’s degree in Physics, which he applied to his many children’s football (soccer) teams (with great success), and eventually retired from Kailua High School. For 30 years he quietly worked to translate the traditional epic tales of Tonga into English. He also traced how the stories spread and morphed as they spread across the Pacific.

That Doctorate thesis has been presented in New Zealand. Since it covers traditional oral narratives, he was asked to do a program. The 500 seat auditorium was packed, standing room only. He spoke for 90 minutes, and then took questions (another hour). The next morning two universities asked him to direct a department (establish courses, hire teachers, etc.) in traditional storytelling. He plans to do this 6 months a year during football season.


  • By Jeff Gere, March 13, 2010 @ 4:57 am

    What a pleasure to hear Emil here, through Art of Storytelling, available to so many who do not (yet) know him. As I was listening, it occurred to me that the schools work so hard with the ‘plumbing’ of learning (standards, tests, accountability) with negligable if not disasterous effects, while it;s the deep water of patient caring mentors in classroms that still work miracles bringing children into bloom. It’s the oldest forms, the stories and encoded wisdom of the countless faceless ancestors that works within us. Emil is indeed a vessel of deep deep waters. Great session. Mahalo to you both. Aloha.

  • By Brother Wolf, March 14, 2010 @ 3:24 pm

    How so we in the modern age age incorporate the lessons of indigenous cultures? We don’t want to co-opt them – but at them same time it is very clear that the metaphor of living on an island and all the limitations it imposes seem very important and relavent to today’s problems in a 21st century world.

    Emil really offers us a chance to see the role that storytellers can play in bringing about a sustainable world. By the way if you enjoyed this retreat the environmental storytellers retreat is in a few weeks here in Yellow Springs, Ohio.

  • By Kaleinani, October 7, 2010 @ 5:55 pm

    I had the pleasure to meet Uncle Emil when I went to a Kamehameha program over the summer……he is so akamai!!

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