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.


Don'ts

  • 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. 

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