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Love meanings

What does the word ‘love’ mean to different people around New Zealand? Responses vary but whatever people’s background and native language one thing is clear – love is a verb. Love – the feeling – is a consequence of this verb. To love is to take action. Here is some examples from LOVE IN AOTEAROA:


The word ‘love’ means so many things; there are so many types of love. There is the love I have for my husband – passionate and trusting. There is the love I have for my children – nurturing. And then there is the love I have for friends – respect and caring.

Sara, 40s

The most beautiful language in the world to listen to is Samoan. And the word for love, ‘alofa’, stirs the spirit to acts of kindness, generosity and compassion. That is what ‘alofa’ is all about.

Siosiua, 32

The Tongan word for love is ‘ofa. It conveys a meaning of reciprocal love and sharing.

Aritelu, 27

In Korean ‘ae-jung’ is affection, while ‘sarang’ is love. But I think ‘ae-jung’ is more important. It takes time to develop and is the foundation for ‘sarang’. Love is weak without affection.

Kyung-Soon, 41

The word for love in Chinese has a meaning that is more modest than in Western culture. For example parents are unlikely to say ‘I love you’ but they will do kind things and give their children gifts. Parents serve their children and in that way they show they love them. Living in New Zealand I see other approaches to the Chinese way.

Athena, 20s

The word ‘love’ to me means an open-hearted, unconditional acceptance of another person. There are varying degrees of love, but it starts and ends with accepting that person for who they are, warts and all. The Japanese word for love is ‘ai’ and it means the same in Japanese as it does in English, although the Japanese aren’t terribly demonstrative – my aunts and uncles always get a bit of a shock when I give them a big hug!

Sonia, 30s


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