Find resources / Articles / Talofa lava

There are ways to show respect when a whānau supporter meets a Samoan family for the first time.

Here are some tips for non-Pacific whānau supporters meeting a Samoan family for the first time. This advice comes from Latu To'omaga.

Whānau worker: Where do we start, Latu?

Latu: It's a good idea to know some simple greetings and words. Here are a few words that you might find useful.

  • Talofa lava (Hello)
  • O a mai oe? (How are you?)
  • Manuia fa'afetai (Good thanks)
  • Manuia lou aso (Have a good day)
  • Tofa soifua (Goodbye)
  • Tulou (Excuse me)
  • Fa'aaloalo (Humble)
  • Fa'amolemole (Please)

Whānau worker: How should I get ready before I go into the house?

Latu: Get yourself a lavalava. Wrap it around yourself before you enter the house.

Whānau worker: Okay, I can wear a lavalava. How will that make a difference?

Latu: That shows that you are respectful of another culture. Be prepared to take your shoes off too. You'll probably notice that there are shoes on the porch or at the door.

Whānau worker: I hear Samoan people saying 'tulou' a lot. What's that about?

Latu: That's another way of showing respect. Put your head down and say 'tulou' when you enter the house, especially if you're moving in front of someone else.

And be prepared to sit on the floor, or just go with the flow – whatever the host indicates for you to sit. The lavalava will help with modesty if you do need to sit on the floor. Then be ready for a lotu.

Whānau worker: What 's a lotu?

Latu: A lotu is a prayer. Your host may wish to begin with a prayer before any meeting. It's quite common. Just lower your head and be respectful.

You can be guided by your host. Listen, be humble, watch and be present, and you'll be fine.

Be honest, accepting, empathetic – and above all, smile.

 

Helpful resources for whānau