The National Sport of Tuvalu - Te Ano

With the help of our friends at Te Papa and Tagata Pasifika let’s look at how to play Te Ano, the national game of Tuvalu. A bit like volleyball Te Ano is played with a harder, tougher, ball that could blacken your eye if you’re not careful.



In order to play Te Ano you’re going to need two teams who stand facing each other on a malae (field); a designated area has been marked out for the game to be played in. 


The bulk of the team is called the vaka and they stand in rows behind two central players on their team, the alovaka (captain) and the tino pukepuke (catcher).


Simultaneously, usually on the call of an elder spectator, both tino pukepuke of each team throw an ano (ball) to their alovaka who in turn bats it towards the other team.


The receiving vaka have to keep the ano off the ground and try to bat the ano back to the tino pukepuke who can then reset and throw the ball to the alovaka to repeat the move until a team drops the ano.


Teams score points when the opposing team let’s the ano touch the ground.


As there are two ano moving about at any one time, Te Ano is known to be fast-paced and exciting to watch.


The only person allowed to catch the ball is the tino pukepuke and players in the vaka try to hit the ano back to their tino pukepuke as fast as possible to set up their alovaka’s hit who tries to target weaker players in the opposite team.


The first team to ten points wins.


See the game in action in this Tagata Pasifika clip below: