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

Counting to 100 in Tongan

Counting in Tongan

So you want to count in Tongan! The basic level of counting in Tongan is easier then you think. All you have to do is learn the numbers 0-10 then you can count from 1-99. Follow these simple rules.

Counting 1-99 in Tongan

  • numbers 0-9 noa, taha, ua, tolu, fā, nima, ono, fitu, valu, hiva
  • the number for 10 is hongofulu (hoh-ngoh-foo-loo)
  • the number for 100 is teau (teh-ah-oo)
  • every other number is literally the words 0-9 combined: twenty becomes two zero – ua noa
  • three exceptions to the rule 22, 55 and 99 words shortened to uo ua, nime nima, hive hiva

Example: How do you say the number …. in Tongan?

  1. 19 (nineteen) – taha hiva
  2. 44 (fourty four) – fā fā
  3. 99 (ninety nine) – hive hiva
  4. 87 (eighty seven) – valu fitu

Test: Can you saying the following numbers in Tongan

  1. 15 (fifthteen)
  2. 33 (thirtythree)
  3. 50 (fifty)
  4. 11 (eleven)

Celebrating all things Green – lanumata

St Patrickʼs day brings todayʼ theme: Colour Green, what can you see around you with the colour green. Ko e tau lēsoni ki he ʻahoʻni fekauʻaki mo e lanumatá. Ngaahi meʻa kehehe ʻoku lanumatá.

Celebrating everything Green.
Celebrating everything Green.

Practice questions and replies: Ngaahi fehuʻi mo e tali

  1. ʻOku lanu hā ʻa e meleni? What colour is the melon? ʻOku lanu mata ʻa e meleni! The melon is green.
  2. ʻOku lanu hā ʻa e poto? What colour is the frog? ʻOku lanu mata ʻa e poto! The frog is green.
  3. ʻOku lanu hā ʻa e ngata? What colour is the snake?ʻOku lanu mata ʻa e ngata! The snake is green.
  4. ʻOku lanu hā ʻa e musie? What colour is the grass? ʻOku lanu mata ʻa e musie! The grass is green!
  5. Fē ʻa e siaine mata? Where are the green bananas? (point to the picture above and say ko ē – there it is!)
  6. Fē ʻa e kalepi? Where are the grapes? ko ē
  7. Fē ʻa e ʻavoka? Where is the avocado? ko ē

Highest Respect for Tongan Women

Sesika Fifita as mehikitanga takes money gift presented by the dancer.
Mehikitanga accepts her share of food presentation.

In Tongan society, the women or the sisters outrank the males or brothers in the family unit. Accordingly, the language used is one of respect. 

This value and respect the women’ rank is evident in cultural celebrations where the male or brother performs his duty to his paternal aunty and sisters. They are culturally elevated, and honoured fakalāngilangiʻi with presentations of food, gifts of money, fine mats and tapa. The language follows these cultural values where one’s ‘eiki or chiefly side of the family is always referred to with politeness and respect.

We are celebrating International Womenʼs Day with a vocabulary theme of words which describe women and their roles within the family.

  • ta’ahine (n) girl, lady. Also regal word for woman or chiefʼs daughter.
  • finemu’i (n) young girl not yet married
  • ‘ofefine (n) describes daughter of a man.
  • tuofefine (n) describes sister of a male
  • fefine (n) woman, girl (adj) female
  • fafine (n) (adj) plural. girl, women, females
  • faʻē (n) mother
  • mehikitanga (n) fathers sister, paternal aunt
  • fine’eiki (n) lady (polite) word for wife
  • finemotu’a (n) elderly woman, married woman. (derogatory) word for wife
  • kui fefine (n) grandmother