The word Fetu Ta'iala means Navigation or Guiding Star. It was derived from the prehistoric period when Polynesians used the elements of nature, such as stars, wind and wave patterns, and the belief in a higher power to navigate the vast Pacific Ocean. According to the National Geographic, there is physical evidence in the Americas that suggests the Polynesians discovered those continents some four hundred years before Christopher Columbus.
The Tanoa or Ava (Kava) Bowl symbolizes unity, family and community. The Ava or Kava ceremony is practiced throughout the Pacific, especially in cultures such as Fiji, Tonga, Hawaii and Samoa. The ceremony is welcoming of dignitaries or visitors to a community or village, making them part of the unity. Family and community is one of the main consitutions of Pacific Islanders.
The Ipu or Serving cup above the Tanoa symbolizes service, humility and respect. The Samoan proverb - Ole ala ile Pule ole Tautua is reflected in the prayer of St. Teresa of Calcutta - "...The fruit of Love is Service. The fruit of Service is Peace." The ipu is used for serving the dignitaries and local chiefs with humility and respect. This humility and respect, coupled with Islander's deep sense of faith are the center stones of our cultural structure.
The crisscross articles are the To'oto'o or Staff and Fue or Swisher, which together symbolize leadership. When a person is bestowed the title of a Matai or Chief, he or she is presented with the To'oto'o and Fue, with which to lead his/her community and family with Faith in God, Respect, Humility and mastering the traditions and values of the Fa'asamoa or the Samoan way.
The elaborate design patterns are used in tattooing, which symbolizes the identity and the cultural pride of the Pacific Islanders and their heritage. The art of tattooing is thought to have originated from Polynesia, and the word tattoo is from the Samoan word Tatau (which means initiation) introduced in the English language by Captain James Cook after returning from his voyages in the South Pacific in the mid - 18th century. To be tattooed as a male or female is a rite of passage into the circle of chiefs.
The four-point star shape represents the four corners of the world. As new discoveries continue to emerge about human history, it is becoming clearer that Polynesians voyaged to the four corners of the world and have been correctly portrayed as the first navigators in history.