Burns prevention with Tu’u’u Apulu Uta’ile’uo Mary Autagavaia

How to serve ipu tī & apa fafano with Fili Setima Autagavaia and Tu’u’u Apulu Uta’ile’uo Mary Autagavaia


Ipu tī (cup of tea) and apa fafano (finger bowl) are Samoan feau (chores) passed down from generation to generation, where young people contribute to the hosting of events for guests and friends.

For Tu’u’u Apulu Uta’ile’uo Mary Autagavaia, bestowing these teachings upon her oldest grandson Fili Setima Autagavaia means that he can pass them on safely to his younger cousins as they grow.

Serving ipu tī

With the guests in the lounge, serving ipu tī starts with preparation. First is arranging the items on the tray - ipu faisasa (cup/mug and saucer) or mug, jug with milk, sugar and kipoki (teapot).

The ipu faisasa are used for VIP’s such as Ali’i (high chiefs) and ministers, while a standard mug can be used for others.

Once the coffee is made, it’s safest to only fill the teapot halfway. This reduces the weight of the tray and means you’re less likely to drop the tray. Another way to stay safe when serving ipu tī is to turn the spout of the kipoki away from you so that if you fall, the hot coffee doesn’t fall on to you.

Make sure that the track you walk between the table and back is clear of obstacles that could be a fall risk. This could be toys, or fala (mats) in the lounge that can move and slip.

After placing the tray down, it’s important to turn handles towards the guest so they don’t have to reach for anything.

Burn safety tips: ipu tī
Tips for landing page (3)


Serving apa fafano

The apa fafano (finger bowl) is a bowl of warm water and dish washing liquid presented to guests after they’ve had a meal.

When filling the bowl, use just enough water to wash the fingers in. To prevent burns, turn the cold water on first and turn it off last. This tip can also be used in the bathroom when running a bath for a baby.

When an adult presents the apa fafano they will take the bowl and plate with the towel at the same time. Young people should be taught to take the bowl out first, and the plate and towel on a second trip, minimising the risk of injury.

Burn safety tips: apa fafano
apa fafono tips



Reflecting on the importance of feau traditions

Doing everything with a smile and being quiet are all concepts of tautua (to serve). The work of serving ipu tī and apa fafano happen behind the scenes, and involve struggle and sacrifice for young people to create a welcoming, respectful experience for guests.

“Good tautua (service) is minding yourself so that you are safe…taking care of yourself and our guests.”

Thank you to Tu’u’u Apulu Uta’ile’uo Mary Autagavaia for so generously and warmly sharing your knowledge with us all for the safety of our aiga fanau.

Toolkit resource

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