We have a strong Pacific dimension at Auckland Museum called Teu Le Vā, and are building on this to ensure our Pacific collections and communities are embraced and celebrated. Part of this is to work closely with New Zealand’s Pacific communities to maintain and promote heritage language.

We’ll update this page with the latest on each language week and how you can join in and celebrate. Note these dates down in your diary and check back for the latest.


Rotuman Language Week

Sunday 10 May – Saturday 16 May 2020

Talofa Lava

Samoa Language Week

Sunday 24 May – Saturday 30 May 2020


Kiribati Language Week

Sunday 12 July – Saturday 18 July 2020

Kia Orana

Cook Islands Language Week

Sunday 2 August – Saturday 8 August 2020

Mālō e Lelei

Tonga Language Week

Sunday 6 September – Saturday 12 September 2020


Tuvalu Language Week

Sunday 27 September – Sunday 3 October 2020

Ni Sa Bula Vinaka

Fijian Language Week

Sunday 4 October – Saturday 10 October 2020

Fakaalofa lahi atu

Niue Language Week

Sunday 18 October – Saturday 24 October 2020

Mālo Ni

Tokelau Language Week

Sunday 25 October – Sunday 31 October 2020

Samoan Language Week

Sunday 24th May – Saturday 30th May 2020

Talofa Lava! This week is Vaiaso o le Gagana Sāmoa - Samoan Language Week and to celebrate we will share Samoan items from our collections, light up the museum in red, white and blue, and share videos to teach you simple words and phrases in Samoan.  

Olivia Taouma – Teu Le Vā Manager (Poutasi, Faleasiu, Sapapali’i)

Olivia Taouma – Teu Le Vā Manager (Poutasi, Faleasiu, Sapapali’i)

This week is a time for all our Samoan people in Aotearoa to celebrate and share our culture and language with everyone. O le manulauti lea ua fa'asalalau atu mo le Vaiaso o le Gagana Samoa, "Tapena sou ōso mo lau malaga" (prepare yourself a gift for your travels).

The theme of the week urges us to prepare for everything we may need as we go on life’s journey. It highlights the need to respect and share the gifts of our life’s journey with others. Ōso (gifts) such as alofa (love) and tatalo (prayers) build, nurture and strengthen our relationships, with both aiga (family) and uo (friends).

We are excited to be working with our community online this year and sharing more about our Samoan measina and stories at Auckland Museum. I am particularly excited about our first Samoan zoom talanoa, on the wooden and tuāniu selu in our collection. This week we are respecting and sharing some of our museum’s Samoan measina to add to your life journeys and ours.

Image credit: Raymond Sagapolutele
Lighting up the Museum

Lighting up the Museum

From Sunday 24 May we will light up the Museum for a week in the colours of the Samoan flag of red, white and blue.

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O le Manumea: Samoa's Little Dodo Bird

O le Manumea: Samoa's Little Dodo Bird

The Manumea is the national bird of Samoa and is found nowhere else in the world. One of the closest living relatives of the extinct dodo, the scientific name for the species (Didunculus strigirostris) means little dodo. 

Read More Here

Measina Samoa: O le Selu

Tāmaki Paenga Hira Auckland War Memorial Museum held an online talanoa session through Zoom video conference on Monday, 25th May 2020. This is entitled "Measina Samoa: O Le Selu" and it highlights a selection of selu (Samoan combs) from the Pacific collection of Auckland Museum. This talanoa session was part of the celebration of Samoan Language Week 2020.

We were joined by Galumalemana Steven Percival (Tiapapata), Sister Vitolia Mo'a (Apia) and Seulupe Falaniko Tominiko (Apia, Aleisa, Lotofaga, Matatufu, Satitoa, Satapuala, Salailua, Safotu, Samauga, Falealupo and Pava'ia'i). Background information about each selu were shared by Ruby Satele. The panelists and participants engaged in an inspiring discussion that included exploring the origins of the selu, the production work and its role in the identity of tama'ita'i Samoa. Our heartfelt gratitude to our panelists for sharing their knowledge and expertise with us all.

Vaiaso o le Gagana Sāmoa - Samoan Language Week.

Watch the video below to learn some simple Samoan phrases you can use this week

Ruby Satele - Collection Manager, Pacific


My family roots are traced to Samoa and American Samoa, in the villages of Lalovi, Vaito’omuli, Saipipi and Vailoa.

My role as a Collection Manager, Pacific is to care for the Pacific treasures held in Tāmaki Paenga Hira, alongside a group of amazing wāhines. One of the things I enjoy about the role is learning about the different tala or stories that many objects hold, especially when these are told by the knowledge-holders from our Pasifika communities. These are very special and inspiring to me.

Some of my favourite treasures in the Pacific collection are the beautiful neck ornaments from across the Pacific region. The ingenuity of the makers is reflected in the wide array of designs, materials and techniques. The production and wearing of neck ornaments continues today and it’s nice to see how these have evolved over the course of time.

A Samoan term or concept that I try to live by and self-improve on each day is fa’aaloalo. In simple terms it is respect, but it carries a lot of cultural significance because it is the fundamental principle for all things Samoan. The expression of fa’aaloalo includes discipline, grace and politeness. The same treatment should be given to the care of museum objects, and to our relationship with our colleagues, communities and guests. The act itself is wholesome and enriching and it is one of those things that I hope to be consistent in and get better at wherever I may be.

O Le Sulu Samoa – (The Torch)


One of the Samoan measina held in the collections of Tamaki Paenga Hira’s research library is the mission magazine ‘O le Sulu Samoa’, published to highlight London Missionary Society activities and community news. Beginning in 1839, this magazine continues to be published today by the Ekalesia Fa’apotopotoga Kerisiano Samoa (the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa). The considerable run provides a rich resource for researchers, and a compelling narrative of Samoa’s historical journey.

A little background.
On August 24, 1830, John Williams, a minister with the Congregationalist London Missionary Society, landed at Sapapali’i village along the coast of Savaii, in search of Malietoa Vaiinupo, a paramount chief of Samoa. Upon meeting Malietoa at a large gathering in Sapapali'i, the LMS mission was accepted and grew rapidly throughout the Samoan Islands. The Church established itself at Maluapapa (now known as Malua), twenty kilometres west of Apia. Maluapapa quickly became the centre of Congregationalist activity for the Pacific, particularly after the establishment of Malua Theological College in 1844 by the Reverends George Turner and Charles Hardie.

By 1839 the Mission had started publishing ‘O le Sulu Samoa’ on their printing press at Malua. This printing press had been established with the express aim of publishing material in Samoan to aid the spread of the Gospel and conversion of the Samoan community to the Christianity of the Congregational Church.
Over the many years of publication, a wide range of material was translated into Samoan and published in the Sulu Samoa, including the stories of ‘Tusitala’ or Robert Louis Stevenson.

A few libraries across Australia and New Zealand have issues of ‘O le Sulu Samoa’, but no library has a complete run of the 106 years of publication. Tamaki Paenga Hira holds a run of issues from 1902 to 1919 and then a few issues donated by the Reverend Robert Challis, the beloved senior minister of the Pacific Island Congregational Church in Auckland, from the early 1950s.
By the 1900s, in the issues held at Tamaki Paenga Hira, each magazine includes local community news alongside news of events in the wider Pacific area. Births, deaths and marriages in colonial families are noted; families such as Ah Sue, Armstrong, Betham, Carruthers, Churchward, Conradt, Gladding, Hannemann, Harman, Holzhauzen, Krüger, Laban, Nelson, Patterson, Rasmussen, Riedel, Roberts, Schmidt, Skelton, Tattersall, Traub, von Tyszka, Wendt and Wuelfingen.

Credit: Paula Legel, Associate Curator Heritage Publications and Leone Samu, Associate Curator Documentary Heritage, Pacific

Samoan objects from our collections

Rotuman Language Week

 Sunday 10 May – Saturday 16 May 2020

Noa’ia! See how we are celebrating the first of 2020's Pacific Language Week, as we feature Rotuman items from our collections and light up our iconic building in the colour of the flag.

Fesaitu Solomone - Pacific Advisory Group

Fesaitu Solomone - Pacific Advisory Group

“The Rotuma language is a time for all our Rotuman people here in Aotearoa to celebrate and embrace our heritage, our culture, our language and our identity and who we are as people. It is also a time for friends, families and those who want to learn about Rotuma get an insight to us as people who have crossed the ocean to make Aotearoa their home.

We are truly grateful and value the support and the work of the Ministry for Pacific Peoples in adding Rotuma officially in their line-up of Pasifika languages in 2020. To be officially recognised is an incredible step forward for our people and it will encourage them to value our language more. Our language is already listed as ‘vulnerable’ from UNESCO so hence the work to nurture our identity is ever crucial for us to collectively collaborate with key organisations and funding bodies to support and grow our language usage and create a community of fluent and confident speakers. However, our people must make that first step to want to learn.”

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One island, one book, many stories

One island, one book, many stories

 Check out our latest blog on one of the Rotuman cultural treasures, Tales of a Lonely Island, held in the Museum Library

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Lighting up the Museum

Lighting up the Museum

We will light up the Museum for Rotuman Language Week in the colours of Fiji’s flag, Rotuma’s official flag. 

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E kore au e ngaro, he kākano i ruia mai i Rangiātea.

I will never be lost for the seed was sown in Rangiātea.

The Ngā Kākano Wānanga series takes its name from this whakataukī. The series provides an opportunity for our whānau and wider audiences to attend monthly wānanga held in the museum’s auditorium learning from respected Māori and Pacific leaders and experts, who share insights and expertise across Te Ao Maori and Te Moana Nui a Kiwa. While the inaugural Rotuman Language Week 2020 has come at a time of necessary social distancing due to Covid 19, it has meant an opportunity to take our Ngā Kākano Wānanga series digital. A special two-part Ngā Kākano Series focusing on Rotuma brings members of the Rotuman community together with museum kaitiaki to showcase and celebrate Rotuman treasures from our collection.

Recording for Ngā Kākano Series – Part 1: Rotuma talanoa

On the night of Tuesday 12th May 2020 we held the first of two zoom talanoa which highlighted three Rotuman treasures held in the Auckland War Memorial Museum Research Library Te Pātaka Mātāpuna. Entitled ‘Tēfakhanis ‘on tēmamfua - a talanoa on selected Rotuman Documentary Heritage Collections’ we were joined by panellists Fesaitu Solomone, Fekau (Reverend) George Apitko, Frank Samuela, Nataniela Amato-Ali, alongside museum colleague Paula Legel (Associate Curator, Heritage Publications).


The panellists engaged in a rich discussion about provenance of the three treasures, the unique characteristics of the Rotuman language, as well as the influence of key missionaries in developing written forms of the Rotuman language over time.

Recording for Ngā Kākano Series – Part 2: Rotuma talanoa


Our second zoom talanoa of this special Rotuman-themed Ngā Kākano series was held on the night of Thursday 14th May 2020, entitled ‘Fạiạv Ne Si’u - a talanoa on selected Rotuman treasures from the Pacific Collection’. Our panellists were Fesaitu Solomone, Sopapelu Samisoni, and Alfred Prasad alongside museum colleague Fulimalo Pereira, our Curator Pacific at Auckland Museum.


Fuli Pereira shared some background information on the ethnographic collection of James Edge-Partington (1854 - 1930) which is held at Auckland Museum. The panellists discussed several Rotuman treasures counted among this collection including an apei or Rotuman fine mat first acquired by Edge Partington in the late 1800s which has been in the Museum collection since 1929. Once again we share our gratitude for our panellists who gave insights into the cultural significance of the apei, as well as bringing thought-provoking discussion around what the apei and other treasures mean to Rotumans today.

We wish to thank our panellists for their time and expertise in creating a memorable talanoa. Fãiåkse’ea!

Rotuman objects from our collections

These items from our collection offer a glimpse into the Rotuman way of life, an introduction to the island's people, customs and a detailed exploration of precious and daily objects.

rotuma bird

Jea – Polynesian Triller (Lalage maculosa rotumae) – LB7901

This mounted Polynesian triller known as Jea (pronounced “Chair”) in Rotuman was collected on Rotuma prior to 1885 by a missionary Reverend George Brown. This subspecies of Polynesian Triller is endemic, only found on the island of Rotuma. It is found in small groups throughout both the coastal and inland habitats of Rotuma, even found in the vegetable and fruit markets of Ahau. Polynesia Trillers feed on both insects (insectivorous) and fruits (frugivorous).

During the Pacific Collections Access Project specimens from Rotuma, including this bird, were brought from the collection stores by Severine Hannam, a Collection Manager in Natural Sciences to show the Rotuman community. While discussing the specimens and sharing knowledge the community initially identified the triller as being a pest, as it is everywhere and eats their vegetables. Everyone was eager to hear how special and important the species is for Rotuma, as it’s found nowhere else in the world. The community that was present shared the need to protect their unique bird, the Jea, with family and friends in Aotearoa and back in Rotuma.

We love connecting with community through our collections and sharing their unique wonders together. You can find more photos and information about the specimen below.

Find out more