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.

Find out more

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