Gagana Samoa - Samoa Language Week 2023

Malo lava le soifua, Susu mai, Afio mai, Maliu Mai. Manuia le vaiaso o le Gagana Samoa.

Welcome to Vaiaso o le Gagana Samoa | Samoa Language Week 2023. The theme for this year is: ‘Mitamita I lau gagana, maua’a lou fa’asinomaga,’ meaning ‘Be proud of your language and be grounded in your identity.’

Vaiaso o le Gagana Samoa is an annual celebration that holds immense cultural significance for the Samoan community and serves as a reminder of the importance of language preservation and cultural identity. This week-long event provides a platform to honour and showcase the rich Samoan language, heritage and traditions.

Samoa Language Week also presents an opportunity for those outside the Samoan community to learn about and appreciate Samoan culture. One of the key lessons we hope to impart this week is that learning a language is a journey and sometimes it all starts with just ONE word. Whatever your journey looks like, we hope you get to take away a little bit of our Aganu’u Samoa (Samoan Culture) with you this week.

Words/phrases to incorporate into your everyday conversations 

Remember to apply the A E I O U rule when sounding out the words

Lelavā (le-lah-vaaa)

  • Tired, restless, worn out
  • Example: I’m so lelavā, I’ve had such a long day at work.

Aua e te popole (ow-wah-e-te-poh-poh-le)

  • Don’t worry

Onosa’i (Oh-no-sa-ee)

  • Patience, stand firm, keep calm, bearing hardship with fortitude
  • Example: “I’m so stressed today! I’ve got deadlines coming out of my ears” “It’s okay sis, onosa’i – we’ll get through this together”

Maoga (mah-o-nga)

  • The feeling of being full or bloated after eating large amounts of food.
  • In everyday, casual conversation, you would use this term to describe how full you feel after eating. However, in a formal setting, we wouldn’t use the term with those who are older than us
  • Example: “I’m so maoga after today’s Samoa Language Week lunch!”

Fiapoto (fee-ah-poh-to)

  • Know it all
  • Example: “I got to my lecture nearly an hour late because Dad thought his directions were better than Google Maps, he’s such a fiapoto”

Vaiaso o le Gagana Samoa Display, General Library, Level G.

If you happen to be at the General Library, make sure to visit Level G, where a display table of Samoan Measina (cultural treasures) has been set up. The display showcases various artifacts and items of cultural significance. The table will be available for viewing throughout the week, concluding on Aso Falaile (Friday).

Image of Vaiaso o le Gagana Samoa Display

Some of the Measina that you’ll find at our Vaiaso o le Gagana Samoa table:

Nifo Oti

  • The term “Nifo Oti” refers to a traditional Samoan weapon, specifically a war club. The name “Nifo Oti” translates to “tooth of death” in English, reflecting the weapon’s intended use and its resemblance to a tooth or fang.

Tanoa (Ava bowl)

  • A significant ceremonial vessel used in the preparation and serving of ava, a traditional drink in Samoan culture. The Tanoa is primarily used during the ava ceremony, which is a ritualistic practice of preparing and sharing the ava. The ceremony holds cultural and social significance, serving as a means of welcoming guests, resolving conflicts, and strengthening community bonds.


  • Tuiga is a traditional Samoan headdress worn by high-ranking chiefs and paramount chiefly titles, particularly during ceremonial and formal occasions. It is a symbol of authority, prestige, and cultural heritage. The Tuiga also embodies the spirit of the aiga (family) and the matai (chiefly) system, which is fundamental to the Samoan social structure. It serves as a reminder of the responsibility and obligations that come with leadership and the preservation of Samoan customs and traditions.


  • The ulafala necklace is often worn on special occasions, formal events, or during important ceremonies. It serves as a visible marker of one’s social standing and identity within Samoan culture. The necklace is also associated with the principles of Fa’aSamoa, which encompass traditional values, respect for elders, and a sense of duty to the community. The ulafala necklace is traditionally worn by matai (chiefly title holders) and individuals who hold high positions of authority in the community. It signifies their leadership, wisdom, and connection to their ancestral heritage


Wednesday 31st May
Samoan Arts and Crafts
Venue: Tai Tonga Campus, South Auckland Manukau
Time: 12-3pm

Tai Tonga has put together a series of Arts and Crafts workshops to celebrate le Vaiaso o le Gagana Samoa. Today, they will be making Pale Fuiono. The “Pale Fuiono” refers to a headdress or headpiece traditionally worn by dancers during Samoan cultural performances, particularly in Siva Samoa (Samoan dance). If you’re looking for something fun and creative to do this week, pop into Tai Tonga Campus.

Thursday 1st June
Samoan Independence Day
Venue: The University of Auckland Recreation Centre.
Time: 10.30am-3.30pm

Samoan Independence Day is an important part of our history as we became the first Pacific Nation to gain independence from New Zealand. To celebrate this achievement the University of Auckland Samoan Students Association in collaboration with Auckland University Pacific Island Students Association will be hosting a showcase that demonstrates different aspects of our culture.

TV and Radio

For further items on Samoan language and history be sure to watch Media Services’ language week playlist.

Fay Nanai, Pacific Academic Engagement Adviser