Tonga

Umu Time

By August 25, 2019 No Comments

Video by Isoa Kavakimotu

Earth oven cooking is still very common in the South Pacific. Usually prepared for special occasions, since the earth oven process is very labor-intensive.

In some part-Melanesian, Polynesian, and other closely related languages, the general term is “umu,” from the Proto-Oceanic root *qumun (e.g. Tongan ʻumu, Māori umu or hāngi, Hawaiian imu, Sāmoan umu, Cook Island Māori umu). In some non-Polynesian, part-Polynesian, and Micronesian parts of the Pacific, which some islands use the similar word umu, but not all Micronesian islands having many different languages use that base word umu, however, other words are used instead of umu – in Fiji it is a lovo and in Rotuman it is a koua.

In Papua New Guinea, “mumu” is used by Tok Pisin and English speakers, but each of the other hundreds of local languages has its own word. In the Solomon Islands the word in Pidgin is Motu.