On this page you can explore content from previous years of Te Vaiaso o te ‘Gana Tuvalu, Tuvalu Language Week. Read fascinating stories about Tuvaluan history, watch about meaningful Tuvaluan collection items, and feast yours eyes on our beautiful gallery.

Save Tuvalu to save the world

A call to the rest of the world by former Tuvaluan Prime Minister, Enele Sopoaga (Rt Hon.): Please hear our voices, listen to our plea, “We encounter the utmost impact of global warming. We might be the first to perish from the face of the earth, but the rest will follow ... So please save Tuvalu to save the world”.

The ocean is one of our life lines, but now sea level rise is our greatest challenge. Watch Community Coordinator & Guest Kaiako Auckland Museum, Kelesoma Saloa as he discusses the threat of climate change from a Tuvaluan perspective.


Kelesoma Saloa

Community Coordinator & Guest Kaiako Auckland Museum


This week is a time for all our Tuvaluan people in Aotearoa and the world over to celebrate and share our culture and language.

The Language Week theme for this year is: Fakatili te kiloga fou / Navigating the changing environment”. The theme urges everyone to pay close attention to the environment and do the best that we can in order to be positive champions of our fragile environment.

I am excited to be working in partnership with Auckland Museum and the wider community online, and to be sharing more about Tuvalu collections and stories at the Museum. I am particularly excited about our Tuvalu language Zoom discussions based around plant materials and their cultural and customary use and environmental significance.

Ke manuia,
Kelesoma Saloa

Malama T-Pole

Pacific Advisory Group member

Malama T-Pole

This year’s Tuvalu Language Week speaks to me of my dad. He came to New Zealand for a better future, but always held strong to his identity, culture and language. I remember as a child asking what the word he wrote in the front of the Tuvalu bible for me meant: Taumafai.

He left the warm shores of Samoa where he’d been working to follow his heart. A New Zealand nurse he’d met there and the dream for his yet unborn children to have a better future.

Fakaakoigina tou iloga kae tukeli ke magoi mote ataeao. Embracing our culture and a more secure, vibrant future.

My dad took his culture and identity with him to the bitter cold dawn of Dunedin frosts. His Scottish and English in-laws had never met a Tuvaluan, let alone a Pasifika man in the early 1970s. He joined the inner city First Church of Otago as an elder and lay preacher in the Samoan speaking Service. He knew how important language was for the small group of Otago University scholarship students from Tuvalu, and helped start a language service for them. We were a tiny group sitting in the large towering and Victorian like church, but our hymns were sung, our language spoken.

I watched my dad as an avid supporter of the arts, a voice for his people in the 1980s on the Council for Maori and South Pacific Arts. He later supported language programmes at Reverend Laumua Kofe’s home with Vaeluaga Iosefa, the Fa’atoese family and other Tuvalu families attending. In the early 1990s, we joined a multi-cultural festival in the Town Hall, our small Tuvalu community dancing the fatele in this space, proudly saying we are here.

My dad taught me to stand proud in my culture and identity. To take it with me wherever I go, no matter how few of us were in the room.

Today, I hear his words speaking in Tuvalu to me. Taumafai. Words he repeated throughout my life no matter the size of the challenge ahead of me. Taumafai.

Fakaakoigina tou iloga kae tukeli ke magoi mote ataeao.

I wish you a wonderful language week as we celebrate our language, identity and culture in Aotearoa. No matter where you are in your journey, I want to encourage you too to keep trying and not give up. Taumafai.

Top image: Jayne King (right) and Malama (left) with her dad, Reverend Maheu Papau at the Museum's Tuvalu Community Day.
Bottom image: Malama's dad, Reverend Maheu Papau.


A taste of Tuvalu


A taste of Tuvalu

For Tuvalu Language Week, Te Vaiaso o te ‘Gana Tuvalu, Leone Samu (Associate Curator, Pacific) and Paula Legel (Associate Curator, Heritage Collections) take a closer look at a selection of books held in the Documentary Heritage collection of Tāmaki Paenga Hira that discuss food plants of Tuvalu — in particular, the giant atoll taro, pulaka; the taro, talo; and breadfruit, mei. 

These plants will be discussed in a Zoom panel discussion, hosted by the Museum, during Tuvalu Language Week.

Image: From Plants of Tuvalu: a guide to indigenous and introduced plants of Tuvalu = Lakau mo mouku o Tuvalu; AWMM QK473.T88 THA

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Fakatili te Kiloga fou
Navigating the Changing Environment

Tāmaki Paenga Hira Auckland War Memorial Museum held an online discussion session via Zoom on Wednesday 30th September 2020 at 7PM. The conversation highlights literature collection materials from our Documentary Heritage collection regarding three Tuvalu food plants, namely talo (Colocasia esculenta), pulaka (Cytosperma chamissonis) and mei/mai (Artocarpus altilis).

The three plant materials were discussed by a panel of Tuvalu knowledge-holders — Suamalie N T Iosefa Naisali, Vaito Keakea and Teuke Mapaga.

Background information about the literature was shared by Paula Legel and Leone Samu. The panellists and participants discussed exploring origins, oral traditions, planting and harvesting preparation & cooking as well as environmental issues around plant foods.

Panel of knowledge-holders

Our debt to Tuvalu

Our debt to Tuvalu

Tuvalu is a small Pacific Island nation, but this list of Tuvaluan service personnel who served New Zealand in the First World Wars is a testament to their service. If you have any information about a Tuvaluan individual who served, please contact the Online Cenotaph team.

Image: Funafuti. From the album: Views in the Pacific Islands, 1886, Funafuti, by Thomas Andrew. Te Papa (O.037834)

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Exploring the collection in Tuvaluan

In this video, Kelesoma Saloa discusses the importance of a selection of of objects from the Museum's collection with knowledge-holder Vaito Keakea in Tuvaluan.

Tuvalu through the collection

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

A small sprig of Tuvalu

A small sprig of Tuvalu

This prosptia alata specimen, known commonly in English as the haresfoot fern, was collected from Tuvalu. 


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Prosaptia alata, AK112220, © Auckland Museum CC BY