This week is Niuean Language Week. The theme for this year’s celebration is ‘Leveki mo e Fakaaoga e Vagahau Niue’ | ‘Treasure and Use the Niue Language’. Pacific Cultures curators will be posting blogs related to Niue throughout the week and highlighting treasures from Te Papa’s collections.
However, today we have a contribution from guest blogger, Olah Jacobsen from Niue. Olah is Personal Assistant to the Niue High Commissioner in Wellington, New Zealand. Her topic is ‘You know you are Niuean when…’
- The boys in your family have to grow their hair and cut it to symbolise the ‘coming of age’ process in the boy’s life. (A twist to the classic bible story of Samson and Delilah, however in this view the cutting of hair locks are empowering to the boy and their family as the ‘long hair’ significantly symbolises the struggle the child and the family have in maintaining it.)
- Every function is an excuse to a have a feast. This follows the Niuean concept of ‘eat, greet, and meet’. (Yes this includes board meetings.)
- Every Niuean knows who you are, who your parents are, your grandparents and the village they come from in Niue.
- People talk about ‘The Rock’ and you instantly think they are talking about Niue Island. (Newsflash – ‘The Rock’ is also a wrestler.) FYI, Niue is ‘The Rock’ of Polynesia.
- Your aunty or uncle can be your sister or brother (Niue adoption allows the grandparents to adopt the first grandchild or any child of their children and they have the same rights to land and possessions as their children which in most cases same rights as their biological mum or dad).
- You’re at a big Niuean function and the performance is on. Niueans will present money, materials, and spray perfume or pour talcum powder on the performers to show their appreciation and happiness (Agamotu he tagata Niue a e).