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O le upega e tautau, ‘ae fagota. The net is now hanging up (to dry), but it will soon be used for fishing again.

Upu fa’amafanafana. An exhortation not to allow oneself to be downcast by a single failure.


A big fish net is made in parts (tulavae) by individual persons. The tulavae are afterwards joined together. Before the work begins, the mesh-sticks (afa) are measured and made equal, so that all the meshes may be of the same size. When the net is finished people say, Ua peiseai sa fai I se afa e tasi; or elliptically:


Ua se afa e tasi. It looks as if it were all made with one and the same mesh-stick.

Upu vivi’I used to express a common opinion or a unanimous verdict.

Ua ‘ou seuseu ma le fata. I am fishing because I have helped to make a fata.

The tulavae is a portion of the fish net made by one person, as explained in No. 16. All the tulavae made by a section of the village are joined into a fata. The totality of the fata, again, form the complete net. A person who has supplied a tulavae for the fata is entitled to take part in the fishing and to share in the catch. He may not be repulsed. The saying means: I have the right to take part in the discussion.

Ua tu’u I tai le va’a tele. The big net has been spread out in the sea

Va’a tele (big boat) is used figuratively for ‘upega tele (big net) When a village is making a new net, the nearby villages are not allowed to fish for some time before its completion. They may resume fishing, however, a little while after the new net has been tried out for the first time.

Upu fa’aaloalo. It is becoming to listen to and to consider the speech of a distinguished orator.

Fa’atilotilo masae. To look, like a fish, for a hole in the net.


O le upega le talifau. A net that is beyond repair.

Used of a weak, sickly old man.

When fishing for anae (mullet) the fishermen post themselves around the big net. As the fish take to flight by jumping out of the net, they are caught in small hand nets (alagamea). This method of fishing is known as seu. Samoan custom requires that a man who has caught many fish, gives a few to his neighbour who has not caught any. This is called.

Va lelei. To keep up friendly relations with one’s neighbour.

O le I’a a tautai e alu I le fa’alolo. The fish seems to do the will of the tautai (chief fisherman).

When the fish see an opening in the net, they swim to the place where the tautai stands as if they obeyed him. The tautai alone has the right to push down the net and catch the fish.

Upu fa’amaulalo: Obedience.

When the members of a family are fishing with their net another person will, perhaps, put to sea and join them in the hope that he will get his share of the catch after having assisted them. He will say to the tautai: fa’amolemole, o lo’u va’a o le va’a si’I vale, ua ou sau lava I lo’u fia fagota, i.e., I beg your pardon; I have launched my canoe without a good excuse; I have come to help you. The tautai may not refuse him.

O le va’a si’I vale la’u lauga nei. My speech is like a canoe launched without a sufficient reason.

Upu fa’amaulalo by which is meant: The matter on which I am now going to speak does not really concern me and I am overstepping my rights in taking the word. However, as my opinion may be of some value to you, I will express it and, at the same time, beg your pardon for my tactless interference. It is also used as an upu faifai to repulse someone’s interference.

O le upega e fili I le po, ‘ae talatala I le ao. The net that became entangled in the night will be disentangled in the morning.

For a certain kind of night fishing the Samoans use a particular net called tapo. After the catch, the net is carried ashore and hung up. The following morning it is properly put in order. In order to settle a dispute, it is necessary to be clear about its causes.

The method of fishing called aluloa consists in enclosing a large space of shallow water in the lagoon by means of a coconut-leaf net. The fish are then driven to a spot previously agree upon. The whole village led by the tautai takes part in the drive. Should anyone, in the excitement of the work or to show off, give orders to his neighbours, no one will heed him, for only the tautai may give orders. The busybody’s pretended wisdom, therefore, will be of no avail.

O le poto a lauloa. The wisdom show at lauloa fishing.

Upu fa’alumaluma referring to a matai who has no vote in the village or family council and who yet insists on giving instruction and advice which everyone will ignore.

At lauloa fishing some men must mind the net lest it become entangled and tear in the stones and coral slabs, while the others are dragging it.

Fa’aui lau lavea. To disentangle the coconut-leaf net.

This is used of someone who tries to prevent or settle a dispute.

E ta’ape a fatuati. The collapse of the heap of stones.

Fatauati is a heap of stones erected under water in the lagoon to attract fish. When this contraption has been destroyed deliberately or otherwise, the fishermen will come and rebuilt it.

Upu fa’amafanafana referring to a disunited family or village community whose reconciliation is at hand.


O le lamaga ua fa’atau aitu. At torch fishing an aitu appeared on either hand.

One night two women planned to go fishing with torches on the reef. As they had to wait for low tide, they lay down and fell asleep. While they slept, an aitu (spirit, devil) came along and took on the form of one of the women. He then awakened the other and went out with her to the reef where he intended to kill and eat her. However, a second aitu, much revered by the other woman’s family, approached her and said "Run away quick and I will conceal your flight; that is not your friend but an aitu". While she was running away, he changed himself into her form and went fishing with the first aitu. When day broke the latter saw that his plan had miscarried.

The saying means: To countermine another’s evil designs.


Faiva o Fiti ia lililo. Let the Fijian method of fishing remain a secret.

The Tuifiti (King of Fiji) had two wives, one a Fijian, the other a Samoan. Each had borne him a son. One day the boys went fishing for their father. The Fijian used bow and arrow; the other fished with a spear like the Samoans. The Fijian met with failure, but the Samoan caught many fish. Thereupon the two determined to tell their father that both had used a spear. They also decided that the Fijian method of fishing, being so unsatisfactory, should no longer be taught to others. In Samoa, in fact, fishing with bow and arrow has hardly ever been popular; today it has completely fallen into disuse. The saying means, not to reveal a certain matter, such as the commission of an injustice.


A fisherman at his work or return from the sea, being asked whether he has caught anything, will give a negative answer if he wants to keep all the fish for himself. From this we have the saying:


O le fa’afiti a tautai. The denial of the fisherman.

A petitioner uses it to indicate he realizes the negative answer he gets is only an evasion.


When a tauta (landman, opposite of tautai) advances an opinion regarding fishing or navigation, he receives the answer:


O le va’ai a le tauta. That is the opinion of a landlubber.


It means that his opinion is of no value. The saying also has the same meaning as No. 25. Besides, it refers to a faint-hearted person who is ready to give up as soon as he meets with a difficulty.


When a matai tauta (landlubber) who owns fishing tackle but understands nothing about fishing, wants some fish, he will give the tackle and a present to a tautai and ask him to go fishing for him If the tautai has no luck, people will say it is the punishment for some sin he has committed and that he must try again until he makes a catch.


O le sala a tautai e totogi. The tautai must pay for his sins.


Upu fa’amaulalo meaning: If I have caused some trouble, such as a quarrel, I must try my best to set things right.


A tulituliloa ‘ua o le mago I Foa? Is he to be pursued like the shark of Foa?


Mago is a species of shark; pa’itele was a sea-monster about which little is known. Once upon a time a mago and a pa’itele had a fight. The mago fled towards Savai’I followed by the pa’itele. On the coast near Asau the shark crept into a submarine cave. The pa’itele tried to follow, but it was so big that it got stuck. The mago escaped through a side opening. Later the shark went to Foa and proposed to Sinafalemoa, the daughter of the chief. As he was rejected, he died of grief. This is why he is known as the Shark of Foa.

Upu fa’anoanoa or alofa used when one is pursued by misfortune.


O le malie ma le tu’u malie. Every shark must be paid for.

The first shark caught in a new boat. In return the owner will receive a gift of food. This gift is known as tu’u malie or payment for the shark.

The saying refers to "retribution" in a good and in a bad sense.


O le tiuga a Matala’oa e tiu ma afifi. When the Matala’oa people go fishing, they fish and wrap up.


Matala’oa was a bush village in Falealili, inland of Poutasi. It exists no longer. Its inhabitants had the reputation of avoiding all waste when fishing. Their village being so far inland, they knew how to appreciate their catch. Anything they caught was carefully wrapped up and at once sent to the village.


Another explanation is as follows: Matala’oa was a crippled girl in Falealili. She lived in a small hut behind the big house occupied by her brother and his family. One day her brother went out to noose sharks and stayed away a long time. During his absence a strange chief came along and put up at the big house. Matala’oa suspected him of having illicit intercourse with her brother’s wife, so she watched him and found her suspicions confirmed. She did not let on. At last her brother returned, but he had caught nothing. She told him that she also had been fishing and that she had carefully wrapped up the fish and stored it away. She then related what she had seen.

The meaning of the saying is the same in both cases. It is an upu vivi’I, commending a person for his retentive memory.


To’ai fa’a ia a po. To come like a fish in the night.

This pictures a fisher who sits in his boat on a dark night and is startled by the sudden appearance of a shark. Upu fa’aulaula addressed to a person who appears unexpectedly. The visitor, too, may use the words but in a negative sense; Ou te le to’ai fa’a I’a a po, i.e. I do not come secretly like a fish in the night, but I am here to meet you all, to converse with you, to tell you my wishes.


Fa’afanauga a laumei. Like the young of the turtle.

It is the belief of the Samoans that the turtle lurks near her eggs on the beach and that she catches and eats her young as soon as they are hatched.

Upu faifai. (Mocking words referring to loveless, undutiful parents).


Ia o gatasi le futia ma le umele. The sinnet ring and the stand for the fishing rod must be equally strong.


The bonito fishing rod is fastened to the thwart by means of a sinnet ring (futia). The lower end rests in a stand, to which it is tied by means of a rope (umele). Both ropes must be of equal strength, lest one of them tear when a bonito bites.


Upu fa’aaluala. When two men are in partnership, they must be of one mind. Should one be weak and fainthearted, the undertaking will fail.


O le foe fa’ae’e I le tau. The paddle lying on the deck of the fishing boat.

The canoe used for bonito fishing (va’aalo) is small. The bow and the stern are partly decked in. A paddle lying on this half deck may easily fall off.

Upu fa’amaulalo signifying that a person is unwilling to vouch for the correctness of his report or the unalterableness of his opinion.


Ua se le atu I ama. The bonito was mistakenly pulled up on the outrigger side.

When a bonito has taken the bait, the fisherman will swing in his rod with a forward motion on the starboard side, the canoe still moving on. This cannot be done on the left side because of the outrigger. Should the fish or the line strike the outrigger (this may happen to an inexperienced or a hasty fisherman) the hook is likely to be torn out and the fish will be lost.


Upu fa’amaulalo. The saying is used by a speaker as an apology for having, in the heat of the discussion, offended one of his listeners or for having unintentionally omitted one of the set forms of speech required by Samoan etiquette.


Ua tuliloa le ata a le sa’u. The bonito is pursued by the swordfish.

The swordfish (sa’ula) likes to pursue the bonito and follows it even when it seeks shelter near a boat.

Upu vivi’I to commend the energy and perseverance with which a person strives towards his goal. Upu alofa to express sympathy for one who is pursued like the bonito.


Talanoa atu, ‘ae le talanoa manu. The bonitos swim about thoughtlessly, but the seagulls are on the alert.

An incautious person will be surprised by his enemy.


Nafanua, the war goddess, dwelt in Falealupo, Savai’i. The land where her house stood now belongs to Chief Auva’a. There were three entrances to her house. The front entrance was used by those who came with a request. Through the back entrance she received the food which had to be offered to her as tribute. The side entrance had a different purpose. It was called "the passage of the bonito" and through it the bonito fisher had to bring her a fish, even though he had caught only one. Opposite this entrance was Nafanua’s seat.


Tau ina uia o le ala o le atu. Let it go the way of the bonito. This is said by a person when Samoan customs requires him to give away some valuable object, such as a pig or a fine mat. Often a somewhat inferior object is chosen for such a presentation. The saying is then used by a member of the family or a third person to indicate that the quality of the gift does not correspond with the dignity of the receiver. It is also used as an upu fa’amaulalo, an apology to the receiver whom courtesy then requires to praise the value of the gift.


O le sapatu motu pa. The barracuda that tears off the hook. The sapatu (barracuda) is a big predatory fish which, when caught, is very violent. It is, therefore, compared to a quarrelsome person.


O le sapatu moe ‘ese. The barracuda that sleeps apart.

The barracuda sleeps by itself because the other fish fear and avoid it.

Upu vivi’i. Words of praise to commend a person’s power and strength.


The inhabitants of the old village Papa (near Satupaitea, Savai’I) once noticed a big school of fish out in the sea. Thinking they were bonitos they hurried to the shore, embarked in their canoes and went out. However, the fish were not bonitos but aitu (devils, spirits) in the form of big sea eels. The eels rushed the people and started to devour them. A few men managed to regain the shore. However, another aitu named Pagoa was lurking there and ate up those who had escaped the eels. Thus the whole village perished. Ua malaia nisi ia pusi, malaia nisi ia Pagoa; or elliptically:


Ua a pusi, a Pagoa. Some were destroyed by the eels, other by Pagoa.


Upu fa’anoanoa or alofa. He who wishes to avoid Scylla falls into Charybdis. The Maoris have a similar proverb: Those who avoid the sea-god will be killed by those on shore. (An allusion to the legendary custom in the ancestral home of Hawaiki, of killing shipwrecked strangers).


O le galo e gase I Pa’au. The galo dies in Pa’au.

The galo is a full grown fish, which in its earlier stages is called fugausi and laea. Pa’au is the name of a piece of land and a lagoon between Vaisala and Sataua, Savai’i. The galo is frequently found in this lagoon. His is why the Samoans say that the full-grown fish come from all over Samoa to Pa’au, where they are caught. During his lifetime a person frequently changes his abode, but when he is about to die he remembers his birthplace and his family and returns there to await the end.


Ia moe le ufu, to’a le paipai. The ufu sleeps; the paipai sits calmly by.

The fish fugausi secretes a whitish substance in which it hides itself and feels secure from its enemies. In this state, which is considered a symbol of repose, it is known as ufu. The paipai is a small crab that moves about slowly and does not resist capture. Some maintain that ufu is the name of a certain fish and paipai the substance secreted by it. Upu taofiofi. An admonition to live in peace and harmony. The fuga has soft dorsal fins; the maono, hard and spiny ones. The former, therefore, is compared to a peace-loving person; the latter to a quarrelsome one. Ia tafatafa fuga, ‘ae ‘aua le tafatafa maono. Have dorsal fins like those of the fuga but not like those of the maono.


It has a meaning similar to No. 8. Introduced with the verbal particle ‘ua, the saying also refers to a person’s disposition.


The trunk-fish moamoa moves very slowly and is easily caught. The Samoans say that its existence is useless (ola fua), since it does not try to evade its enemies. (Kraemer’s contention that the moamoa is not eaten is incorrect).


Ua ola a moamoa. Like the life of the trunk-fish. Upu fa’anoanoa or alofa, having a similar meaning to No. 33.


Fetuia’I fa’a’aga a ‘apoa. To prick one another like a school of ‘apoa.


The ‘apoa have spines on the back and breast. They are gregarious. When lying in the sand, they can easily hurt one another.


Upu faifai. Rebuke for relatives, friends and neighbours who are quarrelsome and trying to harm one another. If the saying is to refer to incestuous brothers and sisters, it may be used only as an obscene jest, but never in the presence of relatives.


Ua se unavau. He is like an unavau.

The unavau is a poisonous fish that occasionally appears in a school of edible pelupelu. (Kraemer II, 416 says the unavau is the poisonous stage of the pelupelu). The Samoans maintain that if a single unavau happens to be in a swarm of pelupelu, the latter will all be poisonous. The fact is that, now and then, fatal poisonings occur after the natives have partaken of pelupelu that were caught with an unavau. I am not competent to judge how the unavau’s poison is communicated to pelupelu, whether this happens in the sea or when the two fish are accidentally cooked together.

Upu faifai referring to a meddler or a slanderer who endangers the peace of a family or a village.


E a sipa le lama, ‘ae fano malolo. The torch is tilted over while the flying fish die.

Sinasegi, the daughter of the Tuiaana Fa’apilipili and his wife Sinalaua, went fishing one night on the reef of Falelima. The glare of her torch unexpectedly attracted a large number of flying fish that fell into the canoe although it was not flying fish she wanted but a different kind.

Another explanation is as follows: For the capture of the dolphin (masimasi) the hook is baited with flying fish. The latter are caught with a small fish-hook. While the fisher is waiting for a bite, his boat must move on slowly. The sail is, therefore, somewhat lowered until it hangs in an inclined position (sipa).

Upu fa’anuoanuoa or alofa referring to a person who has come to harm through another’s fault.


Ua ta I matau, ta I ama fa’alamaga ise. When fishing for ise we swing the net sometimes to the right, sometimes to the left. The ise (garfish) is caught by torch light with a hoop-net. An orator who digresses from his topic and speaks now of this, now of that, so that no one knows what he wants to say (fa’a le maua se tonu) is compared to the ise fisher who swings his net in every direction.


When the gatala has been impregnated, it moves very slowly. The Samoans compare this stage of repose to grief and mourning and maintain that the matulau is then often seen in company with the gatala. Both fish are frequently caught together.


Ua fa’anoa fua le matulau I le fa’anoa a gatala. The matulau share the gatala’s grief without reason. Upu faifai referring to a person who meddles with other people’s affairs without the slightest reason.


Ua se matulau. Like unto a matulau.

When exposed to the air the matulau dies very quickly.

Upu faifai referring to weakness and inefficiency.


The swarms of lo (whitebait) usually appear first at Fagaiofu, a sandy coast between Falelatai and Lefaga. Not so long ago there was a village there, whose people are now living in Falevai, a fuaiala (section) of Falelatai. From Fagaiofu the lo travel to Falelatai and then along the coast to Manono. Hence the fish appear first at an insignificant little village while the policially important towns have to wait.


Ua mua’I ta I’a Fagaiofu. Fagaiofu goes fishing first.

Upu faifai. Mocking words referring to common people who begin to eat before the high chiefs, and to similar cases.

When the lo appears, Samoan custom requires the family of the husband to present a number of these fish to his wife’s clan. Her family repay the gift with siapo (tapa both). In manono the lo appears so often that it is paid for with lo.


Avatu ni lo, aumai ni lo. To give lo and to receive lo.

Tit for tat


Ua se tifitifi. Like a tifitifi

The tifitifi is a small fish. According to Pratt the word means "a nimble warrior". I have never heard it used in this sense. I think it is simply as a faianaga, a jest referring to a lean person. The aesthetic sense of the Samoans requires a person of dignity to be well-fed and portly. On a malaga to Satuimalufilufi (Faleolo) Leaosavai’I, a chief from Savai’I called on High Chief Lilomaiava. The latter was just returning from fishing. Entering the house, he poured the fish in front of his guest. A little tifitifi that was still alive sprang up and fell into a deep hole and Lilomaiava said, "Perhaps you want that fish too?" "Yes", replied Leao and Lilomaiava said, "Well, then the post must be taken down".


Fa’I pea le pou I Faleolo, ‘ae su’e le I’a a Leaosavai’i. Break down the post in Faleolo and look for the fish of Leaosavai’i.


Upu fa’aalualu. Words to encourage a person to strive after his goal, and not allow himself to be deterred by any consideration or obstance.


E sola le fai, ‘ae tu’u le foto. The sting-ray escapes, but it leaves its barb behind.


The sting-ray (fai) has a sharp barbed spine in its tail with which it can inflict severe wounds. The barb easily breaks off and remains in the wound, while the fish escapes.

Upu fa’anoanoa. The evil a man does, lives after him.


Aua e te fagota I le sao. Do not fish with the stick.

To catch the octopus within the reef, the fisher uses a stick, sao, with which the fish is tickled and enticed from its lair. The fisher then pulls it forth with his hand and kills it by sinking his teeth through its head. Experts may use their hands only to catch small octopuses; but the correct and most efficient method is fishing with the help of the sao.

Upu taofiofi: Do not inquire too deeply into the things which do not concern you, e.g., the affairs of another family (aua e te sagolegole).


O le vaivai o le fe’e. The softness of the octopus.

Notwithstanding its soft body the octopus is a powerful fish.

Upu vivi’I referring to a small but influential family or village, a calm but momentous speech and to similar circumstances.


The fish had a fono regarding the advisability of declaring war on the birds. Because of its small size the igaga was not invited to the meeting. However, when hostilities began he joined the fish.


O le I’a a itiiti o igaga. The igaga is only a tiny fish.

Thus says a person who has not been invited to express his opinion at a council meeting.


Ua fa’afugafuga gutulua fa’apea. He has two mouths like the sea cucumber.

In the war between the birds and the fishes (N0. 64) fortune was changing. The sea cucumber always held with the victor. (The fable evidently owes its origin to the fact that the sea cucumber’s anus may easily be mistaken for a mouth).


Folau a alamea. The cure of the alamea.

The alamea is a spiny sea star. The sting of the alamea may be cured by turning over the animal and allowing it to suck out the spines. Like cures like.


Once upon a time there was an aitu (devil, spirit) who had the form of a trumpet shell (Triton shell, pu, foafoa) and ate men. At night he came ashore through a passage in the reef to look for his prey and in the morning he returned to the sea. The inhabitants of the coast finally determined to rid themselves of the oppressor. One night, under the direction of an experienced fisherman (tuatai), they stretched a net (lologamata) across the reef passage. When the aitu wanted to return, he became entangled in the net and cried out in a loud voice. The fishermen said Ua tagi le pu ina ua maua I le upega, o le a mate. (The pu cries because it is caught in the net where it will die).


Ua tagi a pu mate. Like the crying of the pu that is going to die.


Upu fa’anoanoa or alofa referring to a person who is in danger of his life.


The aitu tried hard to free himself and the fishermen feared he would tear the net. The tautai, however, knowing that the net was strong enough to hold him said, E le afaina. (It does not matter; there is no danger).


Ua to I lologamata. He is secure in the net.


Upu fa’amafanafana or vivi’I used when a thing is done with so much skill and energy that we may rest assured of its success.


On fixed days in October and November every year the palolo worm appears on the reef and is caught in large quantities by the Samoans who highly esteem it. The fish, too, lie in wait for it. When the catch is poor, the fishermen exaggerate on their return, saying that they saw the palolo only in the mouths of the fish they caught.


Tau ina iloa o I’a. Only seen in the mouths of the fish.


Upu fa’amaulalo used as an excuse by a person who has so little food, tapa, etc. that it is not worth while making distribution.


Ua penapena I tua o tai I’a. They were too late for the catch.

It means the palolo was gone by the time the people reached the reef.

Upu fa’aulaula, alofa or fa’anoanoa: He who comes too late must content himself with what is left.


Ua sa I’a e moe. Like a sleeping fish.

Originally this was used metaphorically for a beautiful calm day when the sea and the mountains are perfectly visible. Thus people say, Ua se I’a e moe o mauga o Savai’i. The mountains of Savai’I are like a sleeping fish. Since the spread of Christianity the saying refers to the repose of the soul after death.


Ua se I’a e sola. He is like a fish that escaped.

Upu vivi’I: A figure of speech for "speed".


O le I’a ua lata I le loto. The fish is near a deep spot.

As soon as the fisherman appears, the fish will escape into deep water where it can no longer be caught. Referring to a person about to leave his home, never to return. It also refers to elderly or sick people whose days are numbered, but in this case it may not be used in the presence of the person to whom it is applied.


Ua fa’afaiva o matu’u. It is like the fishing of the heron.

The Samoans say that the greedy heron eats all the fish it catches and brings another to its family.

Upu faifai. The heron is compared to an egotistical person who refuses to share his belongings with his fellow-men.


Ua le fa’asino pu, le tautu’u palapala. He neither searches the holes nor does he dig away the mud.

A certain crab called tupa that lives in the salt-water swamps, is caught by digging it out of the hole in which it makes its home. Upu faifai referring to a lazy person or a shirker who will not lend a hand at a job undertaken by the community.


E gase le pa’a I lona vae. The crab dies by its own leg.

When the fisherman has caught a crab, he pulls out its leg and with it pierces the animal.

Upu fa’anoanoa or alofa or faifai referring to a person who has come to harm through his own fault or that of a relative or friend.


E pata le tutu I ona vae. The crab brags about its legs.

The tutu is a crab with big, strong legs.

Upu faifai referring to a person who brags in a difficult situation when he knows that help is near.


The papata crab had borne a child and there was much rejoicing among the relatives. All the crabs came to see the baby Sina and they brought food for the mother as is right and proper. Only the matamea crab presented herself without a gift. She simply came to sponge and, sitting by the mother, she smacked her lips covetously until she was reproved for her unseemly behaviour.


O le mitimiti a matamea. The sponging of the matamea crab.


Upu faifai referring to a person who feigns love and affection.


The following saying is based on the same story (No. 78):


E le’I mitimiti papata. The papata crab has not yet smacked her lips, i.e., has had nothing to eat yet.


Upu faifai: You have not shown by your deeds that you wish me well.


E a le uga I tausili, ‘ae tigaina fua le atigi alili. The hermit crab is doing the climbing, but it is its shell that suffers the damage.


The hermit crab often wanders inland. When it tries to climb over rocks and tree trunks, it frequently tumbles down.


The shell, then, has to sustain the fall while the crab itself gets off unhurt.

Upu alofa, fa’aulaula or fa’anoanoa. The chiefs and orators make the decisions, but the common people (tagatalautele) must carry them into effect and suffer all the consequent hurt and damage, e.g., after a declaration of war.


‘Ai la’ai fa’avalo. To join another at his meal like the crayfish.

Upu faifai: The little crayfish valo that leaves its hole and, unbidden, enters its neighbour’s hole, illustrates a person who officiously meddles with other people’s concerns.


O le I’a a vai malo. Governmental power is like a fresh water fish.

Fresh water fish, e.g., the tuna (river eel) are slimy and slippery and, therefore, hard to catch and hold. So it is with governmental power. When one party has, with much trouble, conquered another and established a government, it has to watch lest its newly acquired power be wrested from it.


Upu fa’aalualu referring to the frequency of the Samoan civil wars. When the saying is applied to girls (o le I’a vai tama’ita’I), it is used as a faianaga (jest).


O le faila tu’I le ama. A piece of forked wood standing on the outrigger.

The faila is a piece of forked wood fastened to the front part of the outrigger of a canoe. Its purpose is to support the fishing rod, the spear, etc., lest they obstruct the narrow hold of the boat.


Upu fa’amaulalo. A visiting matai applies these words to himself when he thinks that, owing to his presence, his hosts are prevented from discussing their affairs. O le faila tu I le ama a’u nei, i.e. don’t mind me; I am standing outside the canoe.


At low tide two girls were fishing in the lagoon of Sale’imoa. The chief Amituana’I came along and abducted them.


Ua fano lua I masa. Both perished at low tide.

This refers to a mishap that befalls several people at the same time. It is also used jestingly at the preparation of food or kava, when the portion set aside is likely to prove insufficient and the whole available supply had better be used.


La’ulu is the name of a reef near Falealupo, very rich in fish. Ua tagi le tagata e ona le va’a I le tautai ia ave le va’a I La’ulu ia goto ona o le tele o I’a. The owner of a boat begged a tautai to take his boat to La’ulu even though it should sink with the weight of the catch.


Na tagisia La’ulu o se va’a ia goto.


Upu fa’aalualu. Meet the danger with courage and confidence and you will be assured of victory.


E ‘asa le faiva, ‘ae le ‘asa le masalo. A fishing expedition may have no success, but a suspicion usually has some ground for it.

A motto characterizing the Samoan who is suspicious himself and often invites suspicion.


Sili le foe. To hang up the paddle (after a fishing expedition).

It means, to refrain from further participation in an affair; to leave the decision to another.