How to love your long Tongan name

Tangaki Taulupe Faletau

Do you or your child have a long Tongan name? Chances are most pālangi people can not pronounce it. Am i right? Like Taulupe, you are probably using a nickname or prefer your pālangi name over your Tongan name. It’s James not Semisi. 

When asked her name, a young student said her pālangi name until the teacher found out her name was Vaʻelaveamata and insisted on using her Tongan name. Who would name their child (foot injured face/eyes) which is the literal meaning. I wondered wether she knew the origin of her name? She was a beautiful girl who became the wife of the Tu’i Tonga back in 1450. Her name was Va’e (foot) but when the Tu’i Tonga saw her he was so blinded to the point of injury by her beauty that she became known as Va’elaveamata

Here are my tips in teaching kids at a young age to love their name. 

  1. Know the Story behind the name.
  2. Share the story. Keep reminding them what an awesome name they have. Share stories of their namesake.
  3. Make sure teachers/ friends can pronounce their name correctly. It isnʻt that hard teachers ʻread it how you see it, phonetically. 

Mālō Tuʻa ʻofa atu


Community Language Teacher Profile: Mary Greatz

It’s great to see the Government placing an emphasis on community languages being taught with government schools. The Tongan Language School here in Sydney is establishing itself and there are 2 to 3 government primary schools that teach Tongan within their primary curriculum.

Community Language Teacher Mary Greatz talks about her experience within one of these government primary schools.

Is it Taimi’ni or Taini’mi?

taimini MEME

This is another of my internal questions that has lingered in my head regarding the Tongan language. I have always used Taimi’ ni which means at this moment in time/ right now. Then I started to hear people say Taini’ mi, so are you saying it right or not.

It has been confirmed by Tongan linguists so you can be rest assured, the correct term is Taimi’ ni.  The Tongan version of time (taimi) is used with (ni) an enclitic word, joining together to pronounce it as one word with the fakau’a (glottal stop) TAIMI’ NI.

Tu’a ‘ofa atu Hema

Hiva: Si’i Lolo Lyrics

Mou teuteu ke tau hiva e! Get ready to sing-a-long!

I had fun translating this for one of my readers. With a bit of research I found out the meaning and history behind the song. Apparently this was originally composed by Talolakepa Fulivai on behalf of a young Queen Mata’aho, wife of Tupou IV in the 1950’s who captained a champion Netball** team named “Lolo ‘a Halaevalu” (being the nickname for Neiafu, Vava’u) during a tournament in Vava’u against other teams from Vava’u.


Si’i Lolo

Vā’inga loto mokomoko

Fai si’o anga

Ko e malimali katakata

Kuo malo mu’a

Si’omou hela’ na

mo e tou’anga

Si’ono faingata’a

Si’i Lolo [Delightful Vava’u! probably referring to the Teams in the tournament]

playing it cool

as usual your sweet nature

of cool laughing smiles.

thank you dearly for your tiring efforts there

and your earnest work

through the battles faced.


Funga Veitatalo mo e Hala Kaute

Funga Veingangana mo e Hala Siale

‘Ā’ā pe ‘oua ‘e mohe

Na’a ke tafia ai pea ke mole

Pea ke hanu mo ke faka’ise’isa

Ka kuo ‘osi si’ete fakatokanga

Funga Veitatalo team and the Hala Kaute team

Funga Veingangana team and the Hala Siale team

Stay awake do not tire/ sleep

before you are swept away to your peril

and you complain with regret,

But I have forewarned you.


Tala hoku ‘ofa ki Lelea

Mo e fu’u Fā ko Fieme’a

Lolo ‘a Halaevalu si’ene tafe

Lanu ai pea ke hake

Pea ke hifo ki he Fanga Leavale 

Mo e Heilala ‘o Loto Takaunove.

Tell of my love to Lelea

and to the big tree of Fieme’a

Lolo ‘a Halaevalu team oh how she flows,

colouring the terrain up and

down towards Fanga Leavale

and to the Heilala Royal Estate of Loto Taukaunove.

**Netball otherwise known as “pasiketipolo” is the Tongan version of netball which has 9 a-side instead of 7 a-side.

Ka ‘i ai ha fehala’aki pea kātaki ‘o fakatonutonu mai e.

Mālō tu’a ‘ofa atu Hema


Kuo u loto fiefia ke ‘oatu ‘a e keimi ko eni ma’amoutolu ke mou ngaue’aki ke tokoni ke langa’i ‘etau lea fakafonua’.

So excited to offer my first free printable game for you all. I created this game for my class to have some fun speaking in Tongan. There are 80 sightwords of the most commom words used in my classroom. Please share this post and give me some feedback here, on letslearntongan facebook and or twitter page @letslearntongan.

DOWNLOAD THIS GAME AT THE END OF THIS POST.image 1. Download and print all the pages. Make sure that the one-sided print setting is on. You can also laminate the pages for durability. image

2. To play the game you need the sightwords, a die, markers and binderclips. Read the second page for directions and how to make the Pacman markers.image 3. You are ready to play. Make sure to keep things fun. It’s not about finishing first but the one who collects the most cards by speaking. Say the word correctly and you keep the card. image 4. Remember the goal for players is to speak in Tongan. You can vary the game in many ways depending on their ability. If you’re a parent and a native speak get involved and play as well.

  • Pronounce the word correctly. The following can be added as well for more advanced speakers in order to keep their card.
  • Spell the word.
  • Define the word.
  • Say a rhyming word (does not need to be a word.)
  • Use the word in a sentence.
  • Say a synonym for the word.
  • Say an antonym for the word (Some words may not have an opposite word).


‘Ikai ngalo e feilaulau: Lest we Forget

Anzac Day memorial at Nuku'alofa

Facebook pic: Tafe Touliki

‘E ‘ikai ngalo e feilaulau kuohili’. Lest we forget their sacrifices.

ANZAC Day (Australian New Zealand Army Corps) has become a day of national remembrance for Australia, New Zealand and Tonga of the sacrifices that generations have endured to keep us safe. While it actually commemorates the Gallipoli landing in Turkey in 1915, it is just one of many campaigns in which Tongans amongst other Pacific Islanders have been a part of since WWI.  This day has come to symbolise the spirit of the ANZAC, that of fatongia (duty), feilalau (sacrifice) and fakakaungame’a (mateship). Like Tonga, Australia and NZ are a small nation compared to forces of the British, French and the US but their bravery, courage and contribution was second to none. Lest we forget!

Ngaahi fehu’i: Interrogative pronouns to know

Interrogative Pronouns

After learning the Alphabet and correct pronunciation, my class are now working on learning these important question words. Having little or no prior knowledge of the Tongan language, my focus is getting the class to understand these words so I don’t receive blank stares when I ask questions.  Important questions like  Ko hai ho hingoa’? What/Whom is your name? Fēfē hake? How are you? Fē ‘a e peni’? Where is the pen?

  1. Ko hai? – WHO?
  2. ‘I fē? – WHERE?
  3. ‘Afē? ‘Anefē? – WHEN (future) WHEN? (past)
  4. Hā? – WHAT?
  5. Fēfē? – HOW?

Happy learning!


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