GAME: Sai ke tau ‘ilo

Game Saiketauilo.png

An important feature about our Tongan culture is our value of Tauhi vā (keeping our relations close).  However as our extended families grow and move further away it does get harder to keep in touch. It is important to take advantage of the times that families do get together to bond and keep those family ties strong. So here is a great game to connect reminisce and laugh and will defintely bring all generations closer by sharing stories.

We gathered for Fathers day and played this last night and there was plenty of laughter and emotional tears at times reminiscing of loved ones not here. And the best part of it all was the younger generation who were glued to their seats listening to all the stories rather than in their rooms on the devices. So when you have a captive audience take advantage of it and tell them all the stories of life in Tonga, explain cultural concepts behind the stories you share.

The saying “sai ke tau ʻilo” is a typical saying you will hear often meaning ʻgood to know’ often said in a somewhat sarcastic way.


  1. Gather the family around.
  2. You have to share a story that perhaps no one knows or only a few people know of. It can be of your childhood, a memory of your parents, grandparents. Memories of life in Tonga. A story of a current or past life challenge and how you overcame it.
  3. If a quarter of the family eg 3 people already know the story they will call out “sai ke tau ʻilo” then you must share another story.
  4. Good for you to start off the game to show the others how it is played.
  5. Ensure that everyone shares a story big or small. May take a few rounds for the quiet ones to share but thats ok.
  6. Taimi vaʻinga ē (Time to play!)


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).


Game: ko hai au? Who am i?

I found this game “who am i” at the flee market last week and my kids and i have been having lots of fun. You ask questions, describing people in Tongan and the other person answers ‘Io pe ‘Ikai – yes or no.


Here are some basic questions and vocabulary for you to expand your repetoire.
Ko e siana/fefine koe? Are you male/female?
‘Oku’ke…. Are you…?
‘Oku’ke tui…. Are/do you wear(ing)…?
‘Oku ‘i ai ha…? Is there a…?
‘Ulupoko – bald
‘Ulukelo – blonde
‘Ulu lanumelomelo – brunette
‘Ulu loloa – long hair
‘Ulu mingimingi – curly hair
Ihu loloa – long nose
Mata sino – fat face
Matasio’ata – glasses
Tataa – hat
Kava – beard

Is this useful? Would you like to see something added let me know.

Tongan hiko

ʻOkuʼ ke poto he hikoʼ ?  Are you skilled at juggling?

  1. ʻIo ʻoku ou poto lelei he hikoʼ – Yes I am quite skilled at juggling
  2. ‘Ikai ke poto au he hiko.  – No I am not good at juggling.
  3. ‘Oku ou vale he hiko – I am not skilled at juggling

It is an ancient art form of juggling and made into a dance performed by girls only. Any girl who grew up in Tonga would have played endless games with the tuitui nuts that they use to juggle with. The words are old and have lost its meaning but it certainly would have reflected the joyness of playing with ones friends and family.

Fuofua peau moʻua peau to he ʻanaua
Faifai peau fepaki, peau toki fehivai
He pai ko ʻulu ko Hateniti hatenata ua nga pe ʻala ma koli
Foʻi koli savaiki ʻa tofolo he pupunu ki lelenga

Malimali means Smile!



In anyoneʼs language kids know how to smile and give them a toy camera and they start acting like professional photographers and happily snap away. So this is a great way to teach Tongan to your kids. Not only are they having fun but they are also learning simple phrases.

Here are some useful vocabulary when you’re playing imaginary paparazzi and superstar or for real life photo shoots.

  1. For Beginners: You could take photos until they get familiar with the phrases.
  2. For Intermediate: They could take photos of you and give you directions

Ko e ngaahi kupu’i lea ma’ae toko-taha fai-ta’ (Phrases for the photographer)

  • Malimali! – Smile!
  • taha ua tolu malimali – 1 2 3 smile!
  • Hanga mai! – Turn this way!
  • Hanga ki hē! – Turn that way!
  • Unu atu! – Move away!
  • Unu mai! – Move closer!
  • Tu’u ma’u! – Stand still!
  • Tangutu ma’u – Sit still!
  • Sio mai! – Look this way!
  • Sio ki ‘olunga – Look up!
  • Sio ki lalo – Look down!
  • Ko ia – that’s it!
  • Faka’ofo’ofa – beautiful
  • Talavou  – handsome
  • Ai fakalelei – Do it properly
  • La’i tā – a photo
  • tangata fai-tā – photographer (male)
  • fefine fai-tā – photographer (female)

Hope this helps you and if you have other phrases to add let me know

Tu’a ‘ofa atu

Game: Tongan treasure hunt!

GAME: Are you ready to go treasure hunting. Use the Tongan alphabet, numbers and colours to find the treasure.
SUITABLE: Preschoolers, primary (elementary) kids. Beginners for Adults.

Game: treasure hunt for Tongan items
Game: treasure hunt for Tongan items

This is a fun game to play! Get out all your little nick nack toys, and get ready for some fun. This game can be simplified for preschoolers who are learning their colours and numbers. But it can also be made more challenging for older kids by combining colours, numbers, letters and timing them.

I saw this on one of the many kids activity blogs out there and then tried it using our Tongan language. This is by far the best game, according to my 7 year old. She rated it four stars out of five.

Tips for playing this game:

  1. For younger kids keep it simple. Use the option of 1-5 items max, for older kids you can go up to 10 items.
  2. Let your child direct the play. My girl could not find an item starting with ʻlʼ so she came up with the idea to draw the item being a ʻlaioneʼ lion.
  3. Be flexible. The word for many foreign things in Tongan start with meʻa (thing) like meʻa vaʻinga (toy) and meʻa faitā (camera).
  4. Stick to easier letters. Depending on your vocabulary skill level there will be some letters that will be challenging like ʻeʼ and ʻngʼ. I could not find an item for letter ʻeʼ so i got a yellow (engeenga) item.
  5. Have fun!

FOR BEGINNERS! Grab a bowl and collect an item each representing the Alphabet. Then use these items to play treasure hunt. Below are some items that you may have at home in the form of toys, fruits & vegetables and household items.

  • A – ʻĀpele, ʻAngelo, ʻAnga; Apple, Angel or Shark.
  • E – ʻElefānite, ʻĒpelikote, ʻĒpani; Elephant, Apricot, Apron
  • F – Fonu, filo, feke: Turtle, thread, Octapus
  • H – Hoosi, Hamala, Hele: Horse, Hammar, Knife
  • I – Ipu, Inu, Ika: Cup, Drink, Fish
  • K – Kā, Kūli, Kaloti: Car, Dog, Carrot
  • L – Lemani, Lolo, Laione: Lemon, Oil, Lion
  • M – Manupuna, Moli: Bird, Orange
  • N – Neesi, Nima: Nurse, Hand (of a doll)
  • NG – Ngeli, Ngata: Monkey, Snake
  • O – ʻOfa, ʻOtua, ʻOfefine: Love, God, Daughter (of a man)
  • P – Peleti, Pōlisi, Pūsi, Peni: Plate, Police, Cat, Pen
  • S – Sea, Sipaita, Sōtia: Chair, Spider, Soldier
  • T – Tamapua, Temata, Tohi, Toketā: Doll, Tomato, Book, Doctor
  • U – Ulu, Uasi, Uaine: Hair (from doll), watch, Wine
  • V – Vesa, Vaʻe, Vai, Vakapuna: Bracelet, Leg (from doll), water, plane.

I would love to hear how you guys went with playing this game. Rate it, give me some feedback, did you or your kids enjoy it as much as mine did?

Game: how many Tongan words can you make?

Practice the Tongan sound of the vowel A with this Tongan word game!

This is a great game to practice saying the Tongan alphabet and adding to your vocabulary. With this game you will quickly realise that there is only one way to sound out the vowel A.

Say A (ah) as in ʻah-huh, A as in ʻA-llah.

Tongan Alphabet word game
Tongan Alphabet word game

The macron as in Ā makes it a double long vowel. The glottal stop, fakaʻua makes the ʻA shorter and sharper like saying art. Remember Consonants can not stand on its own. They are always followed by a vowel. So using each star, how many Tongan words can you form. Example

  1. Laka – March
  2. Faka – doing
  3. Maka – stone
  4. ʻaka – kick
  5. paka – crab
  6. Ngangana – fall out
  7. Mana – thunder

Ok so how many words did you form? Share your answers so others can add to their vocabulary.