Tongan Culture


  • The most common greeting in Tonga is a prolonged handshake.
  • Among newly acquainted women, the common greetings are a handshake or a nod of acknowledgement.
  • In formal settings, the traditional greeting is to put one's right cheek next to the other's right cheek and take a deep breath. This is formally known as ‘fe’iloaki’ (‘greet’) and informally as ‘uma’ (‘kiss’). 
  • The typical verbal greeting in Tonga is ‘Malo e lelei’ (Hello).
  • Visitors may be greeted with ‘Talitali fiefia’ (Welcome).
  • As a sign of respect, it is common practice to address one’s counterpart with the appropriate title and family name when first meeting. First names are used thereafter.
  • If one is unsure of their Tongan counterpart’s professional or formal title, the terms ‘Tangata’eiki’ (Mr.), ‘Fine’eiki’ (Mrs.) or ‘Ta’ahine’ (Miss) are appropriate.
  • Tongans usually greet each other when passing casually on the street, even if they are not closely acquainted with one another.

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