Samoan Language Week is celebrated for one week, starting from the end of May to the beginning of June — the exact date differs annually. This year, it falls on May 26 to June 1. This holiday is celebrated in New Zealand to honor the Samoan culture and language, which is the language of the Samoan Islands — comprising Samoa and the United States territory of American Samoa. The Samoan language is an official language, alongside English, in both jurisdictions. It is a widely spoken language throughout the Pacific region, particularly in New Zealand, Australia, and the United States. The Samoan language is a Polynesian language, which is the first language of most Samoan Islanders. The Samoan language is the third-most widely spoken language in New Zealand as of 2018.
History of Samoan Language Week
As part of the Austronesian expansion, the Samoan Islands were first settled around 3,500 years ago. Much of Samoa’s ancient and recent history is strongly connected with that of Tonga and Fiji, with which Samoa shares age-long genealogical ties and cultural traditions. European explorers reached the Samoan islands in the early 18th century and named them the “Navigator Islands” in 1768. The United States Exploring Expedition (1838 to 1842), led by Charles Wilkes, reached Samoa in 1839.
In the 1880s, Great Britain, Germany, and the United States all claimed various parts of the Samoan kingdom and established trade posts. Tensions between indigenous factions were heightened as a result of the rivalries that these powers shared. The First Samoan Civil War (1886 to 1894) resulted in the Samoan crisis, which was a struggle for control of the area between Western powers.
This power struggle then led to the Second Samoan Civil War (1898 to 1899), which was eventually resolved by the Tripartite Convention, in which the United States, the United Kingdom, and Germany agreed to divide the islands into German and American Samoa. After World War I, New Zealand took charge of the administration of the region that was formerly German Samoa, thereby renaming the area as the Western Samoa Trust Territory. This area gained political sovereignty in 1962 and was renamed Samoa. American Samoa remains an unincorporated territory of the United States.
Samoan Language Week timeline
The Samoan islands are discovered by European explorers and named "Navigator Islands."
The United States Exploring Expedition, led by Charles Wilkes, arrives in the Samoa region.
The First Samoan Civil War breaks out as a result of a power tussle between European powers.
Samoa gains its independence.
Samoan Language Week FAQs
What is Samoan Language Week?
Samoan Language Week is a week-long holiday in New Zealand celebrating the Samoan language and culture.
What are Samoans known for?
Samoans are usually known for their culture of tattoos and their dominating physique, which explains why they are mostly found doing full-body contact sports.
What code do Samoans live by?
Samoans live by an ancient code known as the ‘Fa’a Samoa’ which means ‘the Samoan Way.’
Samoan Language Week Activities
Learn the Samoan language
Samoan Language Week is an opportunity for you to learn the Samoan language. Don’t let it pass you by. You can watch YouTube videos, or if you’re lucky, you may have a friend that speaks the Samoan language — get them to teach you.
Teach the Samoan language
If you are of Samoan origin and know the language, it would be a great idea to teach the language to those around you. And while you’re teaching the language, share your knowledge about its rich history with your family and friends.
Visit a Samoan region
One of the best ways to celebrate the Samoan language and culture is to visit the source! Take a trip to the Samoan Islands with family or friends. Or if you can’t make the trip, watch a video about the islands and indulge in the beautiful scenic images.
5 Facts About Samoa That Will Blow Your Mind
24 hours ahead of American Samoa
Despite being only 78 miles apart, Samoa's time zone is a full 24 hours ahead of American Samoa's.
Samoans live by ‘Fa’a Samoa’
Samoans live by an ancient code known as the ‘Fa’a Samoa’ which translates to ‘the Samoan Way.’
Samoans are known for full-contact sports
Samoans are usually found playing sports like union rugby, gridiron football, and other full-body contact sports.
Samoans take tattooing seriously
Unlike in the West, tattoos have a deep meaning in Samoan culture and are, in fact, a rite of passage for their men.
Most Samoans are in diaspora
Most Samoans don’t even live in Samoa as a great number of them are spread across Australia, New Zealand, and the United States.
Why We Love Samoan Language Week
It’s a celebration of culture
Samoan Language Week is a celebration of Samoan culture, and we love to celebrate the culture! It gives us a chance to ensure that the culture is kept alive, despite the struggles its people have endured.
It’s a reminder of Samoan history
The Samoan language is an integral part of Samoan history. As such, Samoan Language Week is a reminder of the rich Samoan history.
A way of connecting to one’s roots
Samoan Language week and everything it represents is an opportunity for Samoans to reconnect with their roots. Immerse yourself in this beautiful culture on this day!
Samoan Language Week dates