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The Sāmoan ‘ava ceremony

Talofa lava (Greetings),

In celebration of Sāmoa language week (24 – 30 May 2015) we have installed works connected to the Sāmoan ‘ava or kava ceremony in our Te Kākano display case. Frieda Paul Jr. selected the works and wrote both the English and Sāmoan labels.

Fue (Orator’s fly whisk). Sāmoa. Gifted Reverend G Brown 1878.

Auckland War Memorial Museum - Tāmaki Paenga Hira. AM 11803

Sāmoan ceremonial items

The ‘ava, or kava ceremony, is one of Sāmoa's most important chiefly customs. Sharing the ceremonial ‘ava drink marks important milestones in Sāmoan society and is a very formal tradition. 

These three artefacts are important items used in the ‘ava ceremony. The tānoa fai’ava, or kava bowl, was gifted to the Auckland War Memorial Museum by His Highness Tupua Tamasese Tupuola Efi, on his first official visit to New Zealand as Sāmoa's newly elected head of state in December 2007.

Tānoa fai’ava (Kava bowl). Sāmoa Official gift of His Highness Tupua Tamasese Tupuola Efi 2012.

Auckland War Memorial Museum - Tāmaki Paenga Hira. AM 2012.X.68.

The ‘ava is made in the tānoa, from the dried roots of the kava plant (Piper mythesticum) mixed with water. It is then strained for drinking. The tautu ‘ava, or kava server, distributes the ‘ava in an ipu tau ‘ava - a kava cup made from coconut shell.

During the ‘ava ceremony the Tulāfale, or Talking Chief, speaks with his fue, or fly whisk, on behalf of the chiefs, family and village.

O Mea Tāua Fa’aleaganu’u Sāmoa

O le Sauniga o le ‘ava po le aliitaeao o se tasi o tū ma aga fa’amatai tāua a Sāmoa. O se sauniga aloa’ia – e  fa’asoa le ‘ava e fa’ailoga ai la’asaga tāua i Sāmoa.

O mea tāua fa’aleaganu’u nei e tolu, e fa’aaoga i le sauniga o le ‘ava. O lenei tānoa fai’ava o se mea’alofa mo le Falemata’aga Fa’amanatu o Taua i Aukilani, mai Lana Afioga, Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Tupuola Efi, i lana ulua’i asiasiga fa’alemālo, i le masina Tesema 2007, talu ona tofia o ia ma Āo o le Mālo o Sāmoa.

Ipu tau ‘ava (Kava cup). Sāmoa Gifted Miss Elizabeth Dawson 1969

Auckland War Memorial Museum - Tāmaki Paenga Hira. AM 41177.

O le tānoa e palu ai le ‘ava mo sauniga. O le ‘ava, o a’a mamago o le la’au o le ‘ava (Piper mythesticum), e tu’i pala ona sui i le vai ona vaimamā lea. E tufa e le tautu ‘ava le ‘ava i totonu o le ipu tau ‘ava e fai mai le atigipopo.

A’o fa’agāsolo le aliitaeao, e fetalai le Tulāfale ma lana fue e avea ma sui o Matai, ‘āiga ma le nu’u.

Ia soifua ma ia manuia (Be well and prosper).

See these items on display

You can see these items from the ’ava ceremony in our Te Kākano display case.