Tag Archives: Samoan Language Week

Samoan Language Week – ‘kindness given, kindness gained’

“O la’u gagana o lo’u fa’asinomaga, o la’u gagana o lo’u mitamitaga, o la’u gagana o lo’u maluapapa”
“My language is my identity, my language is my pride, and my language is my shelter”

My language defines me and my ancestors. They sacrificed for my freedom, to speak freely and when appropriate. My language is a part of my identity that I take pride in.

I see it as my comfort zone because I feel confident when I speak my language as opposed to English. I don’t have to worry about “fobbing out” in front of people. This is what my language means to me as a Tama’ita’i Samoa (a woman of Samoa).

Words, when spoken in Samoan, lend very deep meaning. They say that words hurt more than anything else, and I tell you Samoan words hurt me a million times more than English words could. However, Samoan words are also the most soothing to me, for example when you hear an elder (or anyone in particular) speak our mother tongue. The words are spoken with so much grace and knowledge, you can feel the joy they bring. This is a constant reminder that our talatu’u – history was passed down from generation to generation through (mostly) stories.

This week is not only about celebrating our language, it’s also a celebration of our culture. The theme this year is – “Kindness given, Kindness gained” for Samoan Language Week (27 Mē – 2 Juni 2018). Kindness also known in Samoan as ‘Agalelei’ is one of the core foundations of Fa’a Samoa (Samoan culture and traditions). Everything you do within our culture, you should do it with kindness and with no expectation of anything in return.

This week is also a week of remembrance as Samoa celebrates its fifty-sixth year of Independence. We remember our people who fought hard for the freedom that we get to enjoy today.

‘If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language that goes to his heart.’ Nelson Mandela

Ia manuia le vaiaso ole Gagana Samoa.

Seen ‘Tautua’ on hoardings? Here’s what it means!

If you’re based at Dovedale campus or visit regularly, you’ve probably noticed the brightly coloured hoardings around the old gym. These hoardings have been decorated with various words and phrases relevant to UC – including ‘Tautua.’

‘Tautua’ means service and responsibility. It comes from the Samoan phrase “O le ala i le pule, o le tautua” which translates to “The pathway to authority is through service.”

The phrase, also featured in UC’s Pasifika Strategy, is a well known Samoan proverb meaning by serving others; we can create a meaningful path to success. It can also be translated as “The pathway to leadership is through service.”

Service to others, particularly family and community, is highly valued in Pasifika culture. It’s a value which is also applicable when it comes to education. Education allows one to give back to the community, and rise to positions of leadership and responsibility.

Below: Ashalyna Noa and Bernard Mackenzie from the Pacific Development Team check out the brightly coloured hoardings.

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Your language is your identity – O lau gagana o lou fa’asinomaga

UC student Ebony-Jean Ta’avili talks about the importance of language in Samoan culture.


This week, we celebrate Samoan Language Week. The theme is “E felelei manu ae e ma’au o latou ofaga” – Birds migrate to environments where they survive and thrive. To me, this means Samoans may migrate to other places to find greater opportunities to provide a better future for themselves and their families, but they will never forget their homeland. This week, Samoans together with families and friends all around New Zealand, will embrace our culture and most importantly our language, (a bit more than usual) with pride and joy.

Caption: Ebony and other members of the UC Samoan Students’ Association (CUSSA) at last year’s So’otaga held at UC
Caption: Ebony and other members of the UC Samoan Students’ Association (CUSSA) at last year’s So’otaga held at UC

Our gagana (language) keeps us connected with our Samoan community. It is a strong link that binds us proud Samoans all around the world together. Our language is a big part of our culture. It is also a constant reminder that our ancestors shed blood and sweat for us to be an independent nation with freedom of speech. We use our gagana to communicate during our formal traditional ceremonies and gatherings (‘Ava Ceremony, welcoming ceremony, funerals etc.). Our elders have used our gagana to not only teach us moral values but to pass down traditional tales, myths and legends – our HISTORY – not only through spoken word, but through cultural songs and dances from generation to generation.

Our language reminds every Samoan ali’i (male) and tama’ita’i (female) who speaks it that he/she belongs to a beautiful respectful culture.