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Tokelau Travel Guide

Conduct and Customs

In Tokelau, as elsewhere, proper conduct is mostly common sense. Take care not to expect better conditions than anyone else and avoid causing a disturbance. Keep in mind that you're a guest in someone's home. Step aside for the elders and never tell them what to do. When passing in front of another person, bow slightly and say tulou..

If people invite you into a house for a cup of coffee or a meal, politely refuse, saying that you have just finished eating. Such invitations are usually only a form of greeting, and they may not even have what is offered. If they insist a second or third time, or it's someone you know quite well, then they probably mean it. Sit on the mat with your legs crossed or folded, not stretched out.

Village men work together a day or two a week on communal projects. If you can manage to join in with the group, known as the aumaga, you'll fit into the community better. You should also accompany your hosts to church on Sunday. Overt flirtations with members of the opposite sex are frowned upon. If you feel an attraction, simply mention it to one of his/her friends, and the word will be passed on. The women are crazy about bingo and stay up half the night playing it. You'll have to learn how to count (tahi, lua, tolu, fa, lima, ono, fitu, valu, iva, hefulu) if you want to join them (two sene a game). The men may offer to take you line fishing, rod fishing, spearfishing, net fishing, trolling (for bonito), etc.