Learn Some Niuean Words!
Niue is much more than stunning coral reefs and warm weather. It has a vibrant culture that’s well worth discovering. After all, isn’t that what travelling is all about? Discovering new cultures, new ways of life, and new perspectives on our human journey? It often all starts with a language, a means of communication, and then the information flows and the learning happens.
This is why language is often one of the best icebreakers. Being able to say a few words in the language of your host or simply a local that you meet on your adventures will go a long way in opening you to new experiences. Although, almost everybody in Niue is bilingual in both English and Vagahau Niue, showing an interest in the Niuean culture and language is sure to open up a few doors.
Before we give you 10 Niuean words to know when visiting Niue, here is a quick overview of pronouncing vowels in Vagahau Niue:
- A: Pronounce it as the a in “car”
- E: Pronounce it as the e in “leg”
- I: Pronounce it as the ee in “sheet”
- O: Pronounce it as the o in “short”
- U: Pronounce it as the oo in “pool”
For more advice, be sure to check out What is the Niue Language?
1. Fakalofa Atu / Hello
Probably the word you will hear the most when in Niue, “Fakalofa Atu” is the word used for “Hello” and most greetings around the island. It is common to repeat the word as a response. So if you forget, just repeat what you’ve just heard and you should be sorted! Remember to pronounce the “U” as the “oo” of the English word “cool”.
2. Fakamolemole / Please
You will quickly notice that Niueans are extremely polite. For instance, it is customary to apologise for walking in front of people. With that, it comes to no surprise that “Fakamolemole”, which means “please”, is a very common word too.
3. Fakaue / Thank You
Keeping with the local politeness and amazing hospitality, the word for “Thank you” in Vagahau Niue is “Fakaue”. If you want to put an emphasis and say “Thank you very much,” you can add “Lahi” to the word and say “Fakaue Lahi”.
4. Malolo Nakai a Koe / How Are You?
Alright, this is a bit more of a sentence but it is still sure to impress. Asking a local about their day is with “How are you?” is “Malolo Nakai a Koe?” Admittedly, it may take a few tries to get it right but you are sure to get praises for your effort. If you are asked “Malolo Nakai a Koe?” Then you can even work on the answer “Malolo Fakaue” which means “Fine thank you.” Now you’re a local!
5. Magaaho Kai / Food Time!
Everybody gotta eat! By saying the word “Kai” meaning “Food”, you’ll pretty much ensure that you’ll be fed throughout your stay. The locals are incredibly good hosts and sharing food is part of the culture. If you hear “Magaaho Kai!” it pretty much means “It’s time to eat!” so prepare yourself for some of the most delicious seafood the Pacific Ocean has to offer! Learn more about the kai in Niue in the Guide to Niue Food.
6. Mitaki – Kelea / Good – Bad
If you try to describe how you are feeling, how the food is tasting, or your skills in the water, the word for “Good” is “Mitaki”. If you are trying to express how you feel about having to fly back home and leave this paradise behind your, then the Vagahau Niue word for “Bad” is “Kelea”.
7. E – Nakai / Yes – No
Another couple of everyday words that you will hear quite a lot, as they are often mixed with the English language in Niue, are the words for “Yes” and “No”. To say “Yes” simply pronounce the letter “E” as in “peg” or “egg”. If you want to say “No”, then use the word “Nakai”. The polite way to refuse is “Nakai Fakaue” which means “No, thank you.”
8. Tulou / Sorry
As mentioned previously, Niueans tend to be extremely polite so it comes to no surprise that “Tulou”, which is the word for “Sorry” or “Excuse me” is a pretty common one as well. Remember that the “U” is pronounced as the “oo” in “cool”.
9. Fuluola / Pretty
Talking about local crafts, viewpoints or children, you can use the word “Fuluola” which translates to “Pretty” or “Beautiful” to compliment a sight. During village show days, it will be high praises for the local women that will showcase their local weaving crafts. Learn more about village show days in the 10 Biggest Events in Niue.
10. Ai Maama / I Don’t Understand
And if everything else fails… There is always “Ai Maama”, which roughly translates to “I don’t understand.” You are sure to get a good laugh out of that one, especially if you have been dragged into a local conversation because you tried to show off one or two words on this list! Good on you for showing an interest. This may have won you a beer or two with the locals! Learn more about interacting with the locals in Niue with Niue Etiquette: What are the Local Customs in Niue?
More About Niuean Words and Culture
That’s it for the Niuean words worth knowing. You now might like to discover The Guide to the Niuean Culture for Travellers for even more advice on the local customs and cultural experiences.