Samoan Culture

Do's and Don'ts

Do’s

  • Show genuine interest in fa’a Samoa (‘the Samoan Way’). Samoans are extremely proud of fa’a Samoa and enjoy explaining its various facets.
  • Oral presentation skills are highly valued by many Samoan people. If you are asked to speak at a Samoan community meeting or event, ensure that you are well prepared and that cultural protocols are observed.
  • Take care when offering compliments to your Samoan counterpart. They may feel obliged to give you the object you are appreciating. There is a Samoan proverb, which indicates that a person offers compliments because they want the object (“o isi e momo’o” translates as “to praise is to beg”). For example, if you were to compliment a Samoan on their bag, they may try to give you the bag.
  • Be patient and accept the slower pace of ‘Samoan time’. Samoans tend to find it easier to be kept waiting and are generally not bothered about punctuality.


Do Not’s

  • Never speak ill about a person’s family without them being present or spread gossip. Samoans believe this to be deeply disrespectful.
  • Do not disrespect or go against the word of a Matai (chief). Many Samoans bestow a high amount of respect on a Matai. For many, the chief is the final arbiter on important matters.
  • Avoid losing your temper in public or raising your voice if you get emotional. It is uncommon for people to overtly express their emotions in front of strangers. 
Download this Cultural Profile

Too busy to read it right now?

You can download this cultural profile in an easy-to-read PDF format that can be printed out and accessed at any time.

Samoa
  • Population
    198,926
    [July 2016 est.]
  • Languages
    Samoan (official)
    English
  • Religions
    Protestant Christianity (57.4%)
    Roman Catholic Christianity (19.4%)
    Mormonism (15.2%)
    Worship Centre (1.7%)
    Other Christianity (5.5%)
    Other Religion (0.7%)
    No Religion (0.1%)
    Unspecified (0.1%)
    [2011 est.]
  • Ethnicities
    Samoan (92.6%)
    Euronesians (persons with European and Polynesian heritage) (7.0%)
    Europeans (0.4%)
    [2001 census]
  • Australians with Samoan Ancestry
    75,755 [2016 census]
Samoans in Australia
  • Population
    24,017
    [2016 census]
    This figure refers to the number of Australian residents that were born in Samoa.
  • Average Age
    44
  • Gender
    Male (49.0%)
    Female (51.0%)
  • Religion
    Roman Catholic Christianity (23.0%)
    Church of the Latter-Day Saints (13.2%)
    Christian [nfd] (11.1%)
    Uniting Church Christianity (9.6%)
    Other (43.1%)
  • Ancestry
    Samoan (68.0%)
    English (6.8%)
    German (4.3%)
    Other (14.3%)
    Not Stated (6.5%)
  • Language Spoken at Home
    Samoan (84.4%)
    English (13.2%)
    Tokelauan (0.1%)
    Other (0.7%)
    Not Stated (1.6%)
    Of those who speak a language other than English at home, 85.7% speak English fluently.
  • Diaspora
    New South Wales (41.3%)
    Queensland (33.9%)
    Victoria (21.1%)
    Western Australia (1.9%)
  • Arrival to Australia
    Prior to 2001 (58.8%)
    2001-2006 (17.7%)
    2007-2011 (17.4%)
Country https://dtbhzdanf36fd.cloudfront.net/countries/232/ws.svg Flag Country Samoa