We'll be lighting up the Museum in the colours of the Tuvalu flag from Sunday 1 - Saturday 7 October 2023.


Sunday 1 - Saturday 7 October 2023 is Te Vaiaso o te ‘Gana Tuvalu, Tuvalu Language Week.

On this page we've gathered stories and information celebrating Tuvalu from around the Museum.

Header image: mea teu fale (wall hanging); 2015.50.5, 56763.5

Join us for onsite celebrations

We’re bringing Tuvalu Language Week to life in the Museum and online here! Come in and see the collections up close, and watch free performances from the Tuvalu community Under the Tanoa. 

Community drop-in

Community drop-in


Our Te Aho Mutunga Kore team warmly invite Tuvalu community members to join us to view a selection of Tuvalu textile and fibre material in our collections here at Auckland Museum. Book a time to pay our Te Aho Mutunga Kore team a visit to view taonga in person, then share a cuppa and a chat afterwards. 

Click the link below to find out more about Te Aho Mutunga Kore.


53392. Te Faga Ika. Modern eel trap. Tuvalu. 
Tuvalu performers in traditional clothes

Performance Under the Tanoa


This Tuvalu Language week we're welcoming everyone into the fale of Tāmaki Paenga Hira to join us for traditional performance from the Tuvalu community under the Tanoa in Te Ao Mārama South Atrium.

The community is celebrating their language week by providing string-band musicians and dancers with live music, showcasing their connection to and love for their language.

Tausiga o kope tausi totino mo kaaiga

If you would prefer to access this information in another language, click here to see the other options. 

Kope tausi o kaaiga ne vaega o tala fakasolopito, ka taumata tatou me ko oi tatou kae ne aumai foki tatou i fea? Kope tausi konei e aofia ei a ata, tusi ata, tusi, mo nisi tusitusiga taua i ei. Tausiga mo te atafaiga o kopekopega a te kaaiga e pokotia foki ei tena nofo leva. A fakamatalaga konei ka fesoasoani ki te tausiga fakalei o au koloa taua mo tupulaga solo mai mua nei.




O se ata o fa‘amaumauga o tala fa‘asolopito mai le Pacific Islands eDucation Resource Center (PIERC) fa‘atasi ai ma le ulua‘i Fa‘atonu o le PIERC, Afioga Le Mamea Taulapapa Sefulu Ioane vaitau o le 1970

From Online Cenotaph

Stories of service and remembrance. 

The Gilbert and Ellice Islands Contingent

The Gilbert and Ellice Islands Contingent

Before becoming an independent nation in the 1970s Tuvalu was a British colony, known then as the Ellice Islands. In 1918, twenty five members of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands Native Police Force travelled to New Zealand to enlist for war. This is their odyssey.


Help us identify our Tuvaluan service personnel

Do you know these soldiers?

Help us identify our Tuvaluan service personnel

Online Cenotaph includes Pacific service personnel who served in the New Zealand Armed Forces from the First World War onwards. We have only identified 8 service personnel of Tuvaluan descent who served in the Maori Contingent during the First World War. This includes the well known Sergeant Kaipati who was born in Nanumea, Ellice Island. You can read more about his service at nzhistory. We would love for you to add more details, images and messages to these records. If you know of someone who served in the New Zealand Forces from the Ellice Islands / Tuvalu but is not yet identified please get in touch and we will amend their record. 


A sinking nation, a steadfast resilience. 

Interview with Fala Haulangi by Loveni S. Enari

Her nation of Tuvalu is expected to be under water in the next 50 to 100 years but even when totally submerged, and she's without a land to speak from, not even the terrible forces of climate crisis will silence the voice and language of Fala Haulangi, a proud Tuvaluan.

Haulangi's Tuvaluan language is categorised as “definitely endangered” on the Unesco List of Endangered Languages, which means children don't learn it as a mother tongue in the home and, according to experts, the world loses an indigenous language every two weeks.

Haulangi, a union organiser and well known champion of minorities in New Zealand society feels that now, in this Tuvaluan language week, more than ever, must their voices be heard.

'We may be a minority among the minorities, but our people are always punching above their weight,' said Haulangi recently.

'We need to value our language, it is dying as fewer and fewer young people are speaking it. That's the reality.'

'The responsibility is back to us and we need to do our part to maintain the language.'

‘Fakatumau kae fakaakoi tau 'gana ke mautu a iloga o 'ta tuā’, means 'preserve and embrace your language to safeguard our heritage identities'.

This is the theme of the 2023 language week and Haulangi, as ever when speaking up for the underdogs of society, is forceful.

'We have a very important role to play here as long as we continue to have a voice,’ she said.

'And that's where the power of the collective comes in.'

'But that's also why we need allies around us to make sure that we speak the same language and sing from the same page.'

Here she cites the importance of Cyclone Gabriel and the resulting flood damage that wreaked New Zealand in February and the newfound, but welcome, empathy from some Kiwis towards other sufferers of the climate crisis such as the Tuvaluans.

'We Kiwis used to be in denial before, but now with all the flooding that's been happening right on our doorsteps, we started to wake up and go, 'Yeah, this is what you people (from Tuvalu) have been talking about all this time.'

‘All this time’ is how long Haulangi feels they have been at the coalface, pickaxe in hand, grinding away for the cleaners, the airport luggage handlers, the service industry workers of the world, for them all to be granted the living wage, for migrant workers not to be exploited by precarious contracts, to encourage Pasifika people to vote, to demand basic rights for age carers and home support workers, for fairer legislation … The list goes on and on, just like Haulangi’s boundless energy. Unlike her islands, there is no danger of sinking Haulangi. Her spirit and fight are too ingrained. 

It goes too far back, right back to when she was a child in Nauru and her father was literally using the pickaxe to excavate phosphate for the rich Australian and New Zealand companies that exploited Nauru’s minerals.

Seeing her father paid in boxes of corned beef, sugar and toilet paper, she recalls, stirred something in her.

Image: By INABA Tomoaki via Flickr, cc-by-sa-2.0

Fala Haulangi

Later as a senior student in a school dorm in Suva, it was a case of scabies that led her to standing up to the matron and then the principal of her boarding school to demand better hygiene practices to eradicate the infestation. The students were taken to hospital, creams were provided, and the bed linen was boiled.

Then it was as a strawberry-picker, recently arrived in New Zealand in her early 20s.

‘I saw the way people were getting treated at the strawberry farm. I just stood up and said, No way. They're not going to treat my people like that.’

‘People were always short paid. They worked in the rain, they worked in the sun and all that kind of thing and paid little.’

‘I just said, this is not acceptable. Somehow this social justice was instilled in me,’ she says.

‘I think it comes to me naturally that I have to stand up and do the right thing, you know, when I see that (injustice).’

A sinking nation, an endangered language, climate crisis and workers’ rights,  all in one big breath - and you need a big one to keep up with Haulangi. I doubt there is a better example of how all these issues can operate hand in hand than Tuvalu, and Haulangi.

When the last wave washes over what was left of Tuvalu, and there is no physical record of what was once three reef islands and six atolls, what will remain?

Principally, Its people - some 14,000, concentrated mainly in New Zealand, Fiji and Australia.

Secondly, the digitisation project of the nation, consisting of photographs, videos, documentaries, Tik Toks, (you name it). This is well under way, and whatever it finally looks like, it will serve as a digital record of what was once the fourth-smallest nation in the world.

Finally, and there is a Tuvaluan proverb ‘Ko tou malosi, ko tou maumea’ - this translates as ‘your strength, your wealth’ - which leads us to possibly that which should be most relevant to Tuvaluans, and Pasifika in general - the language, the language, the language.

Fala Haulangi, her sister and beloved mother.

Loveni S. Enari is a Samoan journalist who’s spent most of his life in Spain as an English teacher, rugby coach, catering manager, journalist and father. He hails from the villages of Vaiala, Safune, Lepa, Nofoali’i and Wairoa.


The Future of the Tuvaluan Language

Ena Manuireva sits down with Fala Haulangi to discuss the dangers faced by Tuvalu language.

Kelesoma Saloa

Community Coordinator & Guest Kaiako Auckland Museum

Kelesoma Saloa

Ko oi matou nei?

Mea nei se fesili e fakapulele mai faeloa i te mafaufau ia matou kola ne malaga mai nisi fenua. Kafai e kilo matou ki tino i motou tafa i konei Aukilani, e nofo faeloa matou o mafaufau ki te tulaga o matou i loto i te tokoukega o vaega tino valevale. Kofea matou i loto nei, e ofi matou i fea i loto nei? Read more.

Who are we?

This is a question that we as a migration group constantly ask ourselves unconsciously. As we look at our neighbors here in Auckland, we find ourselves in admiration of a diversified canvas where we search for our niche. Where are we in here, where do we fit in here? Read more.

The art of kolose

Kolose is the Tuvaluan word for a unique form of crochet. A modern and innovative technique, kolose is used in creating Tuvaluan attire and ornamentations such as gatu kolose (crocheted tops) and petticoats used in dance and on special occasions, and wall hangings used in homes.

Gatu kolose (detail), made by Pitaani Patelika. AWMM 2015.50.11, 56763.11

The combination of patterns and colour schemes are highly distinctive of the kolose artform. This standout body of art works was acquired into the Museum’s collection in 2014.

The makers are members of Fafine Niutao I Aotearoa, an Auckland-based arts collective of women from Niutao, Tuvalu, established in 2012. The collective is committed to creating and sharing Tuvaluan art, and particularly to teach kolose to the young generation. This inspirational work led to their exhibition Kolose: The Art of Tuvalu Crochet at Mangere Arts Centre Ngā Tohu o Uenuku (2014), curated by Marama T-Pole and Kolokesa Mahina-Tuai. The exhibition also went on tour to Lake House Arts Centre (2014) and Pātaka Art Museum (2017).

Explore the art of kolose in the gallery below. Click on each image to learn the unique story behind each piece.

How ili (fans) are made

Auckland Museum holds an extensive collection of ili from Tuvalu. Here, Kelesoma Saloa describes how these intricate pieces are created.

I Tuvalu, a ili (tio) e faite mai te kaumoe o niu. Te kaumoe e fole koa saka ai ki vai, oti koa soe ai te kaikaiga i luga i te launiu keatea. Mai kona koa pelupelu ai fakafoliki koa tauaki ai ki te laa. Kafai koa malolo koa lanu kena a taa. Ko taa uli mo taa kula e fakalanu ki sua o kaupaipu o togo mo aka o nonu.

A te foitini o te ili e fakamakeke ki kautuaniu, kae fakagaligali ki fulu o manu eva io me ni lausulu fakalanulanu. I aso nei koa fakaaoga ne tino a raffia mo fakagaligali io me fakalanulanu valevale o ata i luga i luga i ili.

Ne tusigina ne Kelesoma Saloa

In Tuvalu, ili (fine plaited fans) are primarily made from young inner coconut leaves which are still white and a little green in colour. These leaves are boiled in water then the surface layer on one side of the leaf is removed, leaving white strands. Finally the strands are sun dried, making them ready for plaiting. To dye the strands black or red the fibre is soaked in liquid extracted from mangrove seeds and noni plant (Morinda citrifolia) roots.

Coconut midribs are used for the structure and to strengthen the fan. Feathers, wool or dyed pandanus leaves are added for decorative purposes. Nowadays people use colourful synthetic raffia to make different more colourful patterns on the fans.

Written by Kelesoma Saloa

Listen to Kelesoma Saloa read this story in the Tuvalu language

aucklandmuseum · Ili: Fans from Tuvalu

Tuvalu through the collection

Here are a few objects from the Museum's collection, selected by staff for their particular significance to Tuvaluan culture.

Explore more

Explore more

Visit our archive of Tuvalu Language Week content from previous years.

Image: Te puukao inu. 1954.11.42, 33713.

Visit the archive