Niuean Words and Phrases to Learn for Your Next Trip
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.
Check out What is the Niue Language? for a crash course on pronunciation. Otherwise, audio playbacks of the vowels, consonants, all the essential Niuean words, translations and more can be downloaded on the Fakaako e Vagahau Niue App free on the App Store and Google Play! In the meantime, here are some easy Niuean words and phrases to learn for your next trip to Niue.
1. Fakaalofa Lahi Atu / Hello
Probably the word you will hear the most when in Niue, “Fakaalofa Lahi Atu” or simply “Fakaalofa Atu” are the words 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 (and the word for that is “Tulou“). With that, it comes as no surprise that “Fakamolemole”, which means “please”, is a very common word too.
3. Fakaaue / Thank You
Keeping with the local politeness and amazing hospitality, the word for “Thank You” in Vagahau Niue is “Fakaaue”, sometimes written as “Fakaue“. If you want to put an emphasis and say “Thank you very much,” you can add “Lahi” to the word and say “Fakaaue 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 praise for your effort. If you are asked “Malolo Nakai a Koe?” Then you can even work on the answer “Malolo Fakaaue” which means “Fine, thank you.” Now you’re a local!
5. Magaaho Kai / Food Time!
Everybody’s got to 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 “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 Fakaaue” which means “No, thank you.”
8. Tulou / Sorry
As mentioned previously, Niueans tend to be extremely polite so it comes as 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 / Beautiful
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 praise 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. For more advice, be sure to check out What is the Niue Language? You can also learn more in the guides below:
Finally, you might like to discover The Guide to the Niuean Culture for Travellers for even more advice on the local customs and cultural experiences.