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The stories and jokes on this page were contributed by Rotumans as illustrative of Rotuman humour. If you are Rotuman, and know any funny stories or jokes you would like to share, please send them to Alan Howard at

Dividing BarThere was a lesson of present and past tense with some Rotuman translation,…
Teacher: please translate this "Toma is going to the door" into Rotuman
Student 1: Le Toma la'an se nu'suar ta
Teacher: Good! What is the past tense for "Toma is going to the door"?

Students are all quiet, trying to figure out, the answer…

Jio: Raising his hand and waiving…Here! here!! Teacher…
Teacher: Yes Jio
Jio: "The door is coming to Toma"
Maika: Ai, nu'suar ta kat 'es la ra ko fatei!!

Dividing Bar

Two sisters in their fifties were enroute to Auckland, NZ to visit with the older one's son. The younger of the sisters had travelled to NZ, the Pacific Isles and Australia a number of times as part of Rotuman Arts Festival groups, so she was pretty fluent in English. The older sister decided to sit in the aisle seat so the younger had to sit by the window. As the plane soared, meals were served and the younger pretended to be alseep and let the older collect their meals and drinks. After dinner the air hostess came by again and asked the two sisters if they would like some tea or coffee and if BLACK or WHITE, to which the elder replied firmly but politely, 'yes . . . figalelei . . . BLACK WITH MILK and suak he ful . . . fanks.."

Dividing Bar

One relative who spoke no English was visited by a stranger looking for his friend in the neighborhood she lived in. The taxi driver saw her sitting on her porch, fanning herself as it was a hot day, so he called out if she knew where his friend PREM lived....Since she knew Prem by name her reply was..Te'is House Rotuma..(then pointing next door) . . . HOUSE FITI . . . ma kota HOUSE CHAENE ma kota . . . HOUSE INDIA on PREM . . . ( and her kids and grandkids were indoors hiding, listening and giggling away).

Dividing BarA Rotuman girl who stayed on the island all her life and speaks poor English happened to go to New Zealand to help look after her aunt's children. While there she met a nice looking Maori guy (who happened to live next door). The guy started the conversation.

Maori guy: "Hello there. I am Tama."

Rotuman Girl: "Sorry no Atama here, tis my aunty Nafrue's housing."

Maori guy (looked confused): "No, I said my name is Tama."

Rotuman girl: Ue, 'ae ma fialiag ne 'igka', gou said, "No Atama in my aunty Nafrue's housing."

Maori Guy: "Gal relax, I'm just Tama and am trying to be nice to you. Are you mad or something?"

Rotuman Girl: "No, not mad. Myself is not mad. (She paused for a moment because she does not know how to say her name in English; then she remembered that another word for "asa" is "sun.")

Maori Guy: "Good that you aren't mad."

Rotuman Girl: (Irritated now because the boy keeps talking, so she thinks that if she would just say her name he would leave her and go) "o.k. ay? . . . o.k. my sun is Rosarina."

Maori Guy: "What? You have a son named Rosarina?"

Rotuman Girl: (Mad now) "What? You eat it! (idiot!) You know, you just ket mooing (moving) from my eyes ('aka kau ko fa). I can't stand the lights (sight) of you. You stupid poi. Can't make good talking.

Ta rak sa' ne kat 'oaf se rak faeag fifisi.

Dividing Bar

A Rotuman guy in his early 20s who spent his entire life growing up in Australia decided to visit relatives in Fiji for the first time. In Fiji he stayed with an aunt in Raiwaqa (a suburb outside Suva City). The next day he decided to check out the City of Suva -- shopping etc. etc. After doing his thing in the city he decided it was time to head back home. He thought it would be nice to catch the local bus and enjoy the scenery on the way back. On boarding the Raiwaqa Bus at the Suva Bus Station he was asked by the Indian driver, "Where to?" The guy realised there and then that he had forgotten the street his aunt lived on so he quickly replied "You know my Aunty Susau's house in Raiwaqa? Please, ake hot pas e Rotuma ko far...

I was at the Suva bus stand last Saturday and noticed some old Rotuman men sitting and talking there. They sit there whole day sharing stories and passing comments at others that they know. I overheard a funny conversation between one of the men and a young, beautiful girl standing nearby.

Old man: Hey where are you from??

Girl: I'm from Niue....why??

Old man: What are you doing here in Fiji?

Girl: I'm a student at USP?

Old man: You are very beautiful??

Girl: Aye! Thanks...

Old man: Are you married or signal?

Girl: What?

Old man: Are you married or signal?

To which one of the other old man sitting there said : "A ka motoka ko fara!"

Dividing Bar

My poor mother, who just came from Rotuma, refuses to go to the movies at Village 6 Cinema in Suva. This is her describtion of Village 6:

"I don't like Village 6 because we are visable to the people passing by outside;
The theater has many screens and it is very confusing as to what movie to watch;
The movies are so short;
There are no seats so we have to sit on the floor;
But the good thing is, we sit on a warm blanket and eat lollies."

"But Mama, that's not the movie theater, it's the waiting lounge!"

Dividing BarI happened to serve briefly on an oil tanker manned by Rotumans trading between Brisbane and PNG in 1987. As we approached the warmer waters of Papua New Guinea the crew would sit at the stern of the tanker around the guitar/amplifier at night and drink cold beer after work and sing Rotuman and English songs.
During one of our parties, as our beer supply got very low, the barman sent one of the boys to bring in a fresh supply. The party started with a lot of Rotuman jokes and fäeag mane'ak each other in the Rotuman language. Somehow the barman (the youngest sailor on board) wanted to take control of the party and ordered everyone to speak in English; anyone who did not speak English properly would be punished by having to consume an extra round of drinks. When the beer for the TAKI (when everyone drinks the same amount from one glass passed around) was running low the barman oredred (in English) one of the crew to go and bring some more beer. He said, "Fred, can you bring some more beer from the ICE (fridge)--in Rotuman we call a fridge 'aista. This smart sailor quickly took off and returned with a tray of ice cubes. The barman repeated: "I want some more beer from the ICE." Everyone burst out laughing and ordered him to take a drink for his poor command of the English language. Poor sailor! When I completed my navigation watch at midnight he was legless and still trying hard to improve his English.
For his efforts I gave the barman the next day off.

There once was a man who was so lazy that he would do whatever he could to avoid work. One day he really needed money and in those days the only way to earn it was to cut copra. But cutting copra is hard work, so he cut just enough to cover the top of a basket. He took the basket to be weighed, but the man on duty found that although the basket was quite small, it was extremely heavy. Out of curiosity he removed the copra from the surface of the basket and his eyes nearly popped out of his head when he saw that he bottom half of the basket was filled with rocks!

A Rotuman man went to a store to buy bullets for his gun. Since his English was not good, he thought very hard as to how he will relate to the salesman what he wanted to buy. He knew that the Rotuman word for bullet is aita (or aiat). However there is another Rotuman word which is very similar in spelling and pronunciation; a'ita (or a'ite) which is the Rotuman word for Saturday. So he said to the salesman "I want to buy a box of Saturday."

After completing her studies, Sapeta joined a dynamic team of consultants in an established call center. Thereafter she was briefed on telephone etiquette and the whole works.

The company provided directory assistance for customers upon enquiry. On this particular day, all hyped up she sat in for her 7a.m. shift. Ring! Ring!

"Welcome to xxx; this is Sapeta?

"Good morning Sapeta. I need the number for . . . distorted sound . . . Please?

[Sapeta] "Sorry, could you repeat that sir?

"I said . . . distorted sound . . . Thank you"

[Sapeta] "Ummm . . . Sorry, can you please repeat that sir?"

"I said, Aten listing”. . . distorted sound . . .

"Lelei faiaksea," Sapeta promptly replies.

"Young lady, I asked for "SATEN" listings! "Not tapen!”

Ngaire Fuata (of New Zealand)'s version of "Son of a preacher man" had just come out. Nearly all the Rotumans were proud of her musical achievement and the popularity of this song. At the breakfast table, my younger brother Aisea, heard the song on the radio and immediately started to sing with his mouth full of food. Unfortunately for him, what came out of his full mouth was "the only boy who could ever teach me, was...a.....sonna  peacher man" as if that wasn't enough, my mum (who is very strict and is more religious) was sitting next to him. Ngaire's back up singer got a thundering slap on his ear coz mum thought he said "son of a B****"

A grandmother was chatting with her young granddaughter. They were talking about the different aspects of health & cleanliness & yadi yadi yadi ya. Well one thing led on the next, then the granddaughter asked her grandmother why her sore wasn't healing fast (she scraped her elbow while playing with her cousins the other day). Since her grandmother's English was very limited she spoke in Rotuman, telling her granddaughter, "ae ul mem tauag."

The next day the granddaughter went to play with her friend and it so happened that her friend had a couple of scratches on her knees from playing the previous day, so she turned to her friend and said, "ae ul mem tauag.". Her friend didn't understand Rotuman so she asked her to translate. Much to her friend's surprise, she was told that she had sweet skin!

The doctor on Rotuma told a Rotuman man and his wife to go to Fiji because she was likely to have a problem giving birth to her first born. Two months before she was due they went to Fiji and the man got a job to help the family they were staying with. One day, when he was at work, his wife gave birth, but the family didn't want to worry him, so they waited until it was over. Everything went well and his wife asked the nurse to let her husband know. so the nurse rang the factory and told the husband. Happy to hear the good news he jumped up and down with tears of joy, and shouting into the phone, asked the nurse, "How much heavy; is it a baby boy or a baby child?"

Uasile told his classmate Aleki to advise their teacher that he (Uasile) would not attend classes that day because his father was taking him to 'Ahau to be circumcised. This was when only English was allowed at Malhaha High School. During roll call Aleki tried his best to translate Uasile's message into English. When the teacher called Uasile's name, Aleki stood up and said, "Excuse me sir, Uasile has gone to 'Ahau to cut his rat."

The district chief (fa 'es itu'u) told his subjects during a district meeting that he would leave for Fiji on the next boat because the doctor at 'Ahau has advised him to seek medical treatment in Fiji. When asked about the type of sickness he was suffering from the chief replied, "I am suffering from answer" (meaning ulcer).

A grandmother wanted to ask her granddaughter, who understood very little Rotuman, whether she (the granddaughter) wanted to go with her or whether she would rather stay at home. Her translation of "Ae la la' ne fu" was, "You go or stop?"

An elderly mother rang her son at work and reminded him to buy some more tablets for her after work. The son asked her which of her tablets she wanted, since she took three or four different types. "Oh, you know," the orange-coloured ones," said the mother. The son reminded her that she takes two orange-coloured types. "Yes, you are right. It's the Detol tablets that I want." The son knew straight away that she wanted Panadol tablets. Before putting the phone down, he remarked, "A ka tur ra'oga ko fara!"

We (including the technical master) all looked toward the door when someone knocking disrupted our technical drawing session. The technical master said, "Yes Jioje, what do you want?" Jioje stood in the doorway for some time and then replied, "Excuse me sir, Sarote (referring to his class teacher) 'ea la figalelei ma na ta fa!" Jioje has just broken the English only rule at Malhaha High School, and sure enough he paid for the violation with a bang on his head. The technical teacher used a wooden mallet.

An elderly uncle was relating to the young ones at home his experiences while he was in New Zealand visiting relatives. He boasted of the big house, the car, nice food, the cold weather, the daily pocket money given to him, the electric blanket, and last but not least, the family's big "pooling swim" in the backyard.

As honoured guest in Rotuma, an Australian man, was invited to particpate in an mamasa ceremony including the chief of the village. As he sat admiring the delicious banquet being prepared in front of him (os umefe), he inquired about the various dishes. "Is this pork?" he asked. "Yes," replied the the Rotuman lady. "Is this chicken?" he asked. "Yes," replied the Rotuman lady. "Is this beef?" he asked, pointing at the red meat dish being presented in front of him. "No," came the reply from the Rotuman lady, "this is cow!"

A florist goes for a haircut and he goes to pay the barber and the barber replies: "I am sorry, I cannot accept money from you; I am doing a community service". The florist is happy and leaves the shop. The next morning when the Barber goes to open his shop, there is a Thank You card and a dozen roses waiting at his door.

Next a cop goes in for a haircut and he also goes to pay the barber and the barber replies: "I am sorry, I cannot accept money from you; I am doing a community service". The Cop is happy and leaves the shop. The next morning when the barber goes to open his shop, there is a Thank You card and a dozen donuts waiting at his door.

Then, a Rotuman guy goes in for a haircut and he also goes to pay the barber and the barber replies: "I am sorry, I cannot accept money from you; I am doing a community service". The Rotuman guy of course is very happy and leaves the shop. The next morning when the barber goes to open his shop, he finds a dozen Rotumans waiting for a haircut...

In the early 1970s, the Rotuman community in Suva made a cultural tour to Australia to visit friends and families who had not had the luxury of witnessing Rotuman traditional dancing first hand. This particular guy's aunty decided that she should go with the tour, but because her childhood education was incomplete, her English was not as perfect as it might have been. Anyway, she went with the tour group and after their first performance, the visitors were asked by their leader to go amongst the crowd and meet them. She went into the crowd and met an Aussie man who asked her what the weather is like in Fiji? She paused for a moment, thought about the question being asked, and then answered: "Maybe yes, maybe no, most probably, perhaps." That was the weather report the man got.

A teenage girl from the island went to visit her aunt in Suva. One day her aunt sent her to the store to buy a loaf of bread. The store was only 2 blocks away but it was 2 hours before she got back. Baffled, her aunt asked her, "What took you so long?" then realizing her niece was empty-handed, added, "Where's the bread?" "Well Aunty," came the reply, "I got to the corner of the street and there was a red sign that said 'STOP' so I stopped! Then I just got tired of waiting so I came back home!"

Two old Rotuman ladies went shopping for buttons in a dress shop. The sales girl asked if they needed help and one of them replied that they were looking for "butter"( meaning buttons). Puzzled, the sales girl replied that they did not sell "butter". The old lady kept insisting that they did. Frustated she went to a dress on display and pointed to the BUTTONS saying, "here butter!!"

Two men, they are brothers. The elder brother is going to Suva and he's standing on the boat at the Oinafa wharf. The other brother is on the wharf waving to his brother on the boat. Suddenly he calls out (in English), "Hey bro, when you reach Suva don't forget to send my 'ROAD'."

Two men were talking, one Pakeha, the other Rotuman. The Pakeha man said to the Rotuman, "When we Pakeha men fall in love, we like to hold hands, kiss, hug, and show the world we're in love. What about you Rotuman men, what do you do when you fall in love?

The Rotuman man looked at the Pakeha man and said, "When we Rotuman men fall in love we just want to die."

An elderly Rotuman woman went to see a Dentist in Suva as she had a very bad tooth-ache. The Dentist asked her "When did you start having this tooth-ache?" She answered "next week."

A Rotuman mum and her young son were going to town. Mum got into the taxi and sat in the back seat while her young son sat in front with the driver. The son had previously asked Mum not to make conversation with the driver because her English is so poor, but mum took no notice and struck up a conversation with the driver:

"Driver, you see tis poys". "Yes," the driver replied. "He's my taughter!"

much to the embarrassment of the young man who covered his face with his hands, and the amusement of the driver who chuckled all the way.

An elderly Rotuman Mum woke very early on the morning of the walkathon to raise funds for the church. She got herself ready and started waking the rest of the family members, who complained that it was too early since the walkathon wasn't going to start for another three hours. Excitedly she exclaimed that she needed to be early because she'll be sitting at the powerpoint giving water to people........(of course what she meant was 'checkpoint').

Two women were flatmates--one Rotuman, the other European. The European flatmate was selling her car--a Ford Escort. She inserted an advert in Saturday's newspaper that read:

"To Sell, 1979 Ford Escort, Immaculate condition,
tel........ for further details and inspection".

An uncle of the Rotuman flatmate arrived early Saturday morning for a brief visit. After coffee and a chat, the flatmates went about their chores leaving the uncle to a hearty breakfast and the newspaper. The phone rang, and a few minutes later the uncle came outside shaking his head and said:

"Some jerk just called saying that he's after an escort that was advertised. And I told him to go jump, and don't ever ring this number again or I'll call the cops. Really, people should know better! There's no escort service operating here," much to the amusement of the stunned flatmates who couldn't stop laughing.

A young, handsome university graduate (on his first ever visit to Rotuma) was on a picnic at Vaioa beach, Itu'muta. Admiring the breathtaking beauty of the long stretch of white sand fringed with niu and hifau trees, he gazed out at the crystal clear waters and asked his local cousin the name of the big island sitting out there.

"Uea," his cousin replied.

"Over there!" he said pointing at the island. "Uea," his cousin repeated.

"Oh Man...there!" he half screamed, pointing at the big island.

By this time, their conversation had drawn attention from the rest of the group who were looking at them with great amusement.

The local cousin stared at the island for a minute, looked back at his visiting cousin and confidently replied, "Uea!".

The visiting cousin could not stand it any longer and by now muttering under his breath, walked up to his local cousin and asked, "Do you have eyesight problems?"

"Nope," was the answer.

The visiting cousin held his local cousin's right hand up, pointing at the island and in a slight intimidating tone said: "THERE, THAT BIG ISLAND, WHAT IS THE NAME?"

"UEA! U E A, is the name," was the reply which was almost deafened by the roar of laughter from the rest of the group and probably could be heard in Uea! ..(Where?)

An Australian man was playing Scrabble with his Rotuman wife, and after much contemplation put the letters C H O M on the board. His wife objected, saying there is no such word. To proved it she looked it up in the dictionary and showed him that it didn't exist. "But," the man said,"every time I see you Rotumans playing cards, people slam down their cards and yell, 'chom!'"

A Rotuman woman brought her husband to the hospital after he had an accident and was getting increasingly agitated when nobody came to help. When an intern passed by she yelled at him, "My husband can't walk. Hurry up and get him a wheelbarrow."

A Rotuman man took a bus to work in Auckland every day. The regular bus driver knew where he got off and would let him off in front of his building, even though the man no longer gave the signal for the bus to stop. One day, however, a new bus driver was on the route and didn't stop. The man ran to the front of the bus and pointed through the back window to his building and yelled, "Hey, why didn't you stop here?!"

A couple of Rotuman men, fresh off the boat, arrived in Suva and were having difficulty trying to cross streets in the face of heavy traffic on a rainy day. One man said to the other, "I think I've got it figured out." Pointing to the windshield wipers on a passing car, he said, "You see, the cars have arms. If they're waving it means, "Hang on, Hang on, Hang on; don't cross."

A Rotuman woman in Auckland telephoned her elderly cousin late at night. Afraid she was calling too late, after her cousin had gone to bed, she asked her nephew apologetically when he answered the phone, "Is Selina still alive?"

A elderly Rotuman took their two-year old granddaughter to the hospital to see the doctor. "How old is she," the doctor asked? Flustered, the woman answered, "One year, twelve months."

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