Detail of a tapa cloth

Vaiaso o le Gagana Sāmoa – Sāmoan Language Week 2021

Tālofa! Susū mai! Afio mai! Maliu mai! Welcome to Vaiaso o le Gagana Sāmoa – Sāmoan Language Week, Sunday 30 May to Saturday 6 June 2021, including Samoa’s 59th year of independence on Tuesday 1 June 2021.

The theme this year is Poupou le lotoifale. Ola manuia le anofale. Strengthen the posts of your house, for all to thrive.

At Te Tumu Herenga, we have been strengthening our posts supporting Sāmoan research, teaching and learning, with a Pacific and Sāmoan collection development programme reaching back to the early 1960s. We hope you enjoy the following greetings and resources for this year’s celebration of Sāmoan culture and language.

Sāmoan greetings to use this week

  • Talofa – Hello
  • O ā mai oe – How are you?
  • Manuia fa’afetai – Fine, thank you
  • Fa’afetai – Thank you
  • O lo’u igoa o… – My name is…
  • Goodbye – Tōfā

Listen to the audio1:

Documentaries and film

Tune into our media playlist dedicated to Sāmoan language, culture, and history. The playlist includes documentaries on Sāmoan identity, profiles of artists, and feature-length and short films.

We also have historical footage of Sāmoa’s Independence Day celebrations including televised specials of past celebrations, and a radio broadcast from 1966 where the Head of Pacific Studies at the Australian National University reviews the first years of Sāmoan independence.


Language barriers are often thought to prevent communication, but Sāmoan-New Zealand artist Ashley Tofa has used the idea of barriers to communicate personal and cultural issues in her photographic self-portraits. In 2019, three of Ashley’s Honours year self-portraits were acquired for our Art Collection. Since then, Ashley has attracted international attention for her 2019 master’s submission, Fa’amoemoega (Expectation), and was shortlisted for the Sony World Photography Awards in 2020.

Ashley Tofa, Loimata o Apaula, 2016. Giclee print. 841 x 1189mm. Currently located at South Auckland Campus - Te Papa Ako o Tai Tonga.

Ashley Tofa, Loimata o Apaula, 2016. Giclee print. 841 x 1189mm. Currently located at South Auckland Campus – Te Papa Ako o Tai Tonga.


Fāgogo: fables from Sāmoa is a great online language tool that uses recordings made in Sāmoa in the 1960s. `Learning the language through listening to fāgogo is based on a medium that is natural and culturally powerful,’ explains Galumalemana Alfred Hunkin in the site’s introduction. To cater to different levels of learners, the Sāmoan and English transcriptions can be displayed or hidden while playing the tracks.


The depth and breadth of Sāmoan research is a richly woven ʻie toga/fine mat that shows the interrelationships of content, knowledge creation and community in Sāmoan culture and contribution to Pacific indigenous research.

Sāmoan graduate, Saili Lemalu Aukuso turned her Master’s thesis entitled O le taiala Samoan bilingual unit: a case study of the dual medium programme in the New Zealand context (2002) into a book, leading to wider reach of her research. But language is not only about the spoken word, it can be beneficial for numeracy too. Lasela Tilomai Lafaele found in her Master’s thesis Interactions between Language Fluency and Mathematics Learning and Achievement for Senior Secondary Samoan students (2016) that language fluency had positive impacts on the performance of Samoan students learning in New Zealand schools2.

While we look to this research as a celebration of the Sāmoan language, it is also important to celebrate the research methodologies used, such as Talanoa, Tafatola and , that form respectful collaborations between researchers and their communities3. These methodologies are part of an ongoing journey, as expressed in Rae Si’ilata’s Doctoral thesis, one of our most downloaded and viewed theses at the University of Auckland: Va‘a Tele: Pasifika learners riding the success wave on linguistically and culturally responsive pedagogies (2014).2

View the displays

  • Sāmoan Language Week displays are on at three venues for your viewing. Look out for them at Tai Tonga, Sylvia Ashton-Warner Library (Epsom) and at the General Library, Ground Floor.
  • There is also a fun quiz to pick up by the displays to test your general knowledge!

Attend a lunchtime Pese Sāmoa (sing-along)

  • Bring your lunch, relax, hum along, siva and/or learn Le Aute, Siva siva, Milimili, Savalivali.

    Where: City Campus, outside the front entrance of the General Library.
    When: Monday 31 May, Tuesday 1 June, and Thursday 3 June at 12noon-12.15pm.

Discover more

Manuia le Vaiaso o le Gagana Sāmoa!

Compiled by Judy McFall-McCaffery, Academic Engagement, William Hamill, Media Services, Lara Thomas, Art Collection, Jo Birks, Cultural Collections, Simon Esling, Research Services, and the wider Pacific Language Weeks Te Tumu Herenga Libraries and Learning Services aiga/family.


  1. With special thanks to Miraneta Lemalu, Tai Tonga Campus, for the audio recording.
  2. The research outputs of the Sāmoan researchers mentioned above are available in the University of Auckland Research Repository, ResearchSpace.
  3. See these examples within ResearchSpace:
    Architecture and climate change
    Preserving traditional cultural expressions
    Identity through dance as a Samoan in Aotearoa