How to Speak the Tahitian Language

Even though English is spoken and understood in most hotels, restaurants, and shops, learning a few Tahitian words and phrases is encouraged and appreciated. It can also be helpful, but not mandatory, to brush up on a few basic French phrases as French and Tahitian are the official languages and both are commonly used.


Before heading to Tahiti, it’s good to know a little bit about the languages commonly spoken throughout the Society Islands in French Polynesia.This region includes popular vacation spots like Tahiti and Bora Bora. While French is the only official language of Tahiti, Tahitian is a commonly spoken language among locals and is often used by islanders in their homes. Although English is spoken and understood in most tourist areas, it can be both helpful and rewarding to learn basic French and Tahitian that you can use anywhere from Bora Bora resorts to local schools and businesses during your trip. 

PARAU TAHITI ‘OE? – Do You Speak Tahitian?

Here’s a list of a few common Tahitian words and phrases that can help you make a good first impression on the island of Tahiti. Follow along and learn the basics of how to speak Tahiti’s language!

Greeting People

To say “Good morning” to someone, say “ ‘Ia ora na!” If they answer you with “E aha tō ‘oe huru?”, (How are you?), you can answer: “Maita’i!” (Good!), “Maita’i roa!” (Very good!) or even “Maita’i ri’i.” (Not bad.)

Saying Thank You

If you want to say “Thank you,” say “Māuruuru.” If you want to say “No thank you,” say “ ‘Aita māuruuru.” To say “Thank you very much,” say “Māuruuru roa!”

Saying Goodbye

To say goodbye to someone, say “Nānā!” (Until we meet again!)

Yes Or No

To say “yes,” say “ ‘E!” To say “maybe”, say “ ‘A!” To say “no,” say “ ‘Aita!” – or, to say a firm “no,” say “E’ita!”

Glottal Stop, The Letter H, Accents And Misunderstandings

A glottal stop is regularly used in Tahitian. It is a genuine consonant just like the others. However, it is represented by a straight apostrophe (‘) instead of with letters. It is pronounced by emphasizing the pronunciation of the following syllable. Make sure you know when and when not to use “h”.  In addition, vowels are long when they have an accent mark (ā, ē, ī, ō and ū). Depending on how you use these subtleties of pronunciation, the meaning may vary, much to the amusement of the Polynesians!


– Te ū means milk but Te hū means fart

You have been warned!

Here’s a Little Lexicon of Tahitian Words and Expressions

Welcome Maeva, manava
Good morning ‘Ia ora na
Goodbye Nana
Thank you Mauruuru
Thank you very much Mauruuru roa
Yes E, ‘oia
No ‘Aita
How are you? E aha te huru?
Just fine, thank you Maita’i mauruuru
No worries ‘Aita pe’ape’a
Cheers! Manuia!
Take a seat! Haere mai!
Husband, man Tane
Wife, woman Vahine
Beautiful Nehenehe
Big Nui
Good, well Maita’i
Sky Ra’i
Flower Tiare
Island Motu
Sea Miti
Ocean Moana
Food Ma’a
Ancient religious site Marae
Song Himene
Traditional dance Ori
Drum Pahu
Dance together Tamure
Outrigger canoe Va’a
Carved statue Tiki
Happy New Year! ‘Ia ora na i te matahiti ‘āpī
God keep you! ‘Ia tīa’i mai te Atua iā ‘oe!
Best wishes ‘Ia pū te ‘ae’ae
Merry Christmas! ‘Ia ‘oa’oa i te Noera
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! ‘Ia ‘oa’oa i te Noera ‘e ‘ia maita’i i te mau ‘ōro’a matahiti ‘āpī ! »
Happy Easter ‘Ia ‘oa’oa i te ‘ōro’a Pātate
Happy Feast Day ‘Ia ‘oa’oa i teie ‘ōro’a
Oh dear, that’s much too heavy for me!  ‘Ae! Mea toihā roa ‘ino nō ‘u! 
Mothers’ Day ‘Ōro’a nō te mau māmā
Fathers’ Day ‘Ōro’a nō te mau pāpā
Happy anniversary ‘Ia ‘oa’oa i to ‘oe mahana fānaura’a
Birthday ‘Ōro’a mahana fānaura’a
Congratulations! Te ha’apoupou atu nei!
Well done! Pōpō!
Hooray! Hūrō!
Wow! It’s just breathtaking! [referring to the scenery] ‘Ī ïa!, ‘ua ha’aviti mai!
Yeah, I’ve won! Ī hā! Ī hī!, ‘ua rē au!
Fantastic/brilliant ‘Aita atu ai!
Oh, my! ‘Auē!
Oh dear/Ouch! ‘Ae! 
Enjoy your holiday ‘Ia maita’i i te fa’afa’aeara’a
Have a good time! Fāna’o maita’i! 
Have fun! ‘Arearea maita’i!
Smile! ‘A ‘oa’oa!
Chin up! Tāpe’a te māna’o!
Yours truly Fa’ari’i mai te tāpa’o nō tō ‘u aroha
Sincerely yours Fa’ari’i mai te tāpa’o nō tō ‘u manava tae
Kisses! Te ‘āpā atu nei
A big hug! Te ‘āpā maita’i atu nei!
Have a nice walk! ‘Ia maita’i te ori-hāere-ra’a!
Come back soon! ‘Ia maita’i te ho’ira’a
Have a good trip ‘Ia maita’i te terera’a
Good luck ‘Ia mānuia
God bless you! ‘Ia ha’amaita’i mai te Atua iā ‘oe!
Have a good weekend!  Fāna’o maita’i atu i tā ‘oe hope’a hepetoma!