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Speak Tahitian — Common Tahitian Words and Phrases for Travelers

Maeva (Welcome) to the language spoken in Tahiti and Her Islands


Tahitian in ceremonial dress

Tahitians take pride in their beautiful lagoons and their ancient language.

Donna Heiderstadt

French may be the official language of Tahiti, but the Tahitian te roa (language) is widely spoken by locals and relatively simple to learn: There are only 16 letters and 1,000 words. In terms of pronunciation, most vowels are pronounced and an apostrophe indicates a short pause (so, Faa'a International Airport is Fah-ah-ah). The R's are also rolled.

When planning a trip to Tahiti, Moorea or Bora Bora it can be fun to learn the basic greetings. Tahitians love it when you arrive already knowing how to say "hello" and "thank you."

Here are a few dozen key words and phrases:

Hello Ia Ora na (yo-rah-nah)

Goodbye Nana (nah-nah)

Yes E (ay)

No Aita (eye-tah)

Man Tane (tah-nay)

Woman Vahine (vah-he-nay)

Child Tamarii (tah-ma-ree-ee)

Friend Hoa (ho-ah)

Polynesian Ma' ohi (mah-o-hee)

Big Nui (new-ee)

Small Iti (ee-tee)

Morning Poipoi (poy-poy)

Evening Ahiahi (ah-hee-ah-hee)

Island Motu (mo-too)

Ocean Moana (mo-ah-nah)

Welcome Maeva (mah-ay-vah)

Thank you Mauru’ uru (mah-roo-roo)

How are you? Maita’i oe? (may-tay oh-ay)

I am fine Maita’i roa (may-tay ro-ah)

Look A hi’o (ah-hee-oh)

Come here Haere mai (ha-ay-ray my)

Let’s go Haere tatou (ha-ay-ray tah-taw)

Cheers! Manuia! (mah-new-yah)

What? Eaha? (ey-ah-hah)

Why? No te aha? (noh-tay ah-hah)

No problem Aita pe’a pe’a (eye-tah pay-ah pay-ah)

Food Ma’a (mah-ah)

Water Pape (pa-pay)

Bread Faraoa (fah-rah-o-ah)

Beer Pia (pee-ah)

Pearl Poe (po-ay)

Black pearl Poerava (po-ay ra-vah)

Cloth wrap Pareu (pa-ray-oh)

Flower Tiare (tee-ah-ray)

Drum Pahu (pah-hu)

Sun Mahana (ma-ha-nah)

Moon Avae (ah-vay-ay)

Star Fatia (fah-tee-ah)

Happy Oa'oa (oh-ah oh-ah)

Good Maita'i (may-tay)

House Fare (fah-ray)

Bank Fare Moni (fah-ray moh-nee)

Store Fare Toa (fah-ray toe-ah)

Church Fare Pure (fah-ray poor-ray)

Post Office Fare Rata (fah-ray rah-tah)

Hospital Fare Ma'i (fah-ray may)

Doctor Taote (tah-oh-tay)

Police Muto'i (moo-toh-ee)

Ancient temple Marae (mah-ray)

Song Himene (hee-meh-nay)

Stone statue Tiki (tee-kee)

Feast Tamaaraa (ta-mah-rah-ah-rah-ah)

Earth Oven Himaa (hee-mah-ah)

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