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Recommended reading Talofa lava Stages: Multiple

Here are some tips for the non-Pacific whānau worker meeting a Samoan family in their home for the first time.  This advice comes from Latu To'omaga, our SKIP community champion.

"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

"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."

"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."

"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 lavalaba will help with modesty if you do need to sit on the floor.  Then be ready for a lotu."

"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."



Tips for Whānau supporters

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