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Te taetae ni Kiribati

The language of Kiribati


Te Kamauri - Reirei Teuana

Greetings - Lesson One


The goal of this lesson is to acquaint you with the greetings in use in Kiribati today, and when it is appropriate to use them. By the end of the lesson you should be able to greet someone in a variety of situations, and give appropriate responses.

dialogue for memorization

Te Kamauri


Tim:   Ko na mauri ! Jim:   Hello!
Tiaon:  Mauri ! John:   Hello!
Tim:   Ko uara? Jim:  How are you?
Tiaon:   Ko rab'a, I marurung. Ao ngkoe, ko uara? John:  Thank you, I'm fine. And you, how are you?
Tim:   I marurungi naba, ko rab'a. Jim:  I'm fine also, thank you.


Memorize both roles of the dialogue. Practice initiating the sequence and responding to someone else's offered greetings, reversing roles periodically.

Nanon te taekaMeaning of the words
ko na mauri!greetings, ('you will be well')
uarabe how? (interrogative word)
marurunggood health
ko rab'athank you


Unlike the English greeting "hello," ko na mauri is generally used only for a first meeting, or after some time has passed since the greeters have last met. It is often abbreviated to a simple Mauri!

When meeting in passing, as on the road, the i-Kiribati will more often use expressions like:

Ko na aera?   Where are you going?  
Ko na nakea?   Where are you going?  
Ko na toki iia?   Where will you stop?  
Ko na boo nakea?   Where are you going?  

Or if the person is known to be going in the direction of his home

Ko nako maiia?   Where are you coming from?  
Ko a oki?   You're returning?  
Ko boo maiia?   Where are you coming from?  

Supplementary Activities:

  1. Using the additional vocabulary items listed in the next section, create new dialogues appropriate to different times of day. Vary your role to be initiator and responder.
  2. Change these dialogues into ones appropriate for situations where it is not the first meeting of the day.

Suggestions for further use:

  • Take a walk through the community, trying out appropriate greetings on the people you meet.
  • Make note of their responses, and report any new additions to your greeting repertoire.


Supplementary Materials:

te b'akantaai aei   this afternoon
te tairiki aei   this evening/tonight
te ingaabong aei   this morning

With the addition of the linking particle n, these phrases can be added to (ko na) mauri or ko uara, providing more time specific greetings. Similarly

te bong aei  
For example:Ko uara n te bong aei?

Modification of responses can include
rangi ni   very
bati ni   much
aki   not
teutana   not bad, a little
For example: I aki rangi ni marurung.
Or: A: Ko uara?   B: Teutana.


Additional Note

Ko is the singular form of the second person pronoun, in the form used before a verb. When more than one person is being addressed, the plural form kam is used: Kam na mauri!

Ngkoe is also a pronoun standing for "you", but is used in places other than before a verb, such as for a one word answer to a question.

Kiribati page

© 1979, 2003 Stephen Trussel, ACTION / Peace Corps, The Experiment in International Living. The Experiment in International Living, Inc., prepared this handbook for the U. S. Government under ACTION Contract number 78-043-1037. The reproduction of any part of this handbook other than for such purposes as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, research, or other "fair use" is subject to the prior written permission of ACTION.