Samoan Nu’u or village in 1930 courtesy of Wikipedia

Talofa! Welcome to the Nu’u. This is where the “Happy People” of Samoa work, live, and celebrate. A courtyard is surrounded by high, domed structures favored by Samoans. Heavy tropical rain runs easily off the durable sugarcane roofs supported by tall posts. Each building is lashed together without any nails, compliments of savvy Samoan craftsmanship. A good roofing job can last 15 years!

You might ask yourself a question: How can such skilled builders forget to add walls on the house? Truth is, they have a good reason to leave them out. Take the dense tropical humidity and add temperatures topping 88 degrees. You will really want a breeze, and the Samoan house can get it for you. Hot air rises to the high ceilings, leaving room for cooler air to move freely through the house. It really works. 9 out of 10 times you can walk inside and immediately feel the difference. Believe me, it is a relief!

Do Samoans ever wish they had walls? What if there’s a hurricane? Don’t worry. Coconut leaves woven into screens or blinds are let down from the ceiling in the event of severe weather. They really did think of everything!


Samoan men cooking courtesy of flickr

With built-in AC, can life get any better? In the “Heart of Polynesia” it can.

Let me confirm the rumors once and for all.

In Samoa, it really is true that the Tunoa (kitchen), and all cooking is the responsibility of the men.

The kitchen is located outdoors so they won’t burn the houses down with cooking fires.

The men of the village work hard to gather bananas, taro, breadfruit, fish, and other Samoan staples.

They hunt, climb trees, make fire, and build underground ovens to prepare the food. While the men cook, the women work as well.

Women are in charge of converting raw materials into ropes, cords, clothing, building materials, and especially beautiful mats.

The fine mats are painstakingly woven out of prepared pandanus leaves and are used as clothing, home furnishings, and even currency.

They can take many years to complete, but when they are finished they are prized as valuable gifts.



Samoan Women Weaving courtesy of Multi City World Travel


Samoan women posing with mats courtesy of


At the end of the day in Samoa, both the efforts of the men and the women are appreciated as families gather for the main meal.

They come together on the mats and the brothers, husbands, and sons serve the food to their sisters, wives, and mothers.

Story by Erin Baker

I am from Salt Lake City, Utah. I am studying Intercultural Communications at Brigham Young University Hawaii. Attending BYU Hawaii was always a dream for me and I value the diverse community of the campus. I am so lucky to attend this special school. Giving tours at the PCC was amazing because I love the details of the unique cultures represented in the villages. The music, art, dances, and languages of Polynesia are vibrantly alive at PCC and I take every chance I can to be a part of it. I worked at the Polynesian Cultural Center in the past, and now I work at the Reading Writing Center on campus.