“ We can’t rewalk the exact footprints we make in the stories of our lives but we’ll hear again our footprints like the lullabies our parents sang us the moment our stories end. Perhaps out of our footprints our children will nurse wiser lullabies.”
— Maualaivao Albert Wendt, The Adventures Of Vela.

Maualaivao Albert Wendt has been publishing since the early 1960s and is recognized internationally as one of New Zealand’s, Samoa’s, and the Pacific’s major novelists, poets, and intellectuals. Over the past forty years, his writing, his teaching and research have helped change how Samoa, the Pacific, and New Zealand are perceived. He has also changed how we structure, teach and ‘read’ Pacific Studies, literature, history and art, analyse and understand indigenous cultures, colonialism and colonized peoples, especially those of the Pacific, and the process of decolonization. He has taught at every level of education, and has had a major impact on the development of Pacific Studies at Universities in Samoa, Auckland and Hawaii.

Albert has written eight novels, six collections of poetry, four collections of short stories and has edited nine anthologies. His novel Sons for the Return Home, 1973 was the first novel to be published by a Samoan writer, and the first feature film to be based on a novel by a Samoan writer in 1979. His work has been celebrated all over the world, and has been translated into Chinese, Dutch, German, French and Japanese.

He has won many literary awards including: the 1980 Wattie Book Award for his novel, Leaves of the Banyan Tree; the 1991 Commonwealth Writers Prize for the South-East Asia and Pacific Region for his novel, Ola; the 2004 Montana Book Award for his anthology, Whetu Moana; and the 2010 Commonwealth Writers Prize for the South-East Asia and Pacific Region for his novel, The Adventures Of Vela.

He was awarded the Prime Minister’s Award for Literary Achievement in Fiction 2012, New Zealand.  In 2013, he was awarded new Zealand’s highest honour, the Order of New Zealand

In 2018 he was made a recipient of the Icon Award by The Arts Foundation.



Born in Apia, Samoa.
Won NZ Government scholarship to study in New Plymouth Boys’ High-school boarding school. He studied there until the end of 1957.
Studied at Ardmore Teachers’ College. Diploma of Teaching.
1960 – 63
Studied at Victoria University, Wellington. Graduated MA (Honours) in History.
Teacher and Principal at Samoa College, Samoa, until 1974.
Published first novel, 'Sons for the Return Home'.
Published short-story collection, 'Flying-fox in a Freedom Tree'.
Writer-in Residence and Senior Lecturer, University of the South Pacific, Fiji Campus.
Director of USP Centre, Samoa, until 1982. Published first collection of poetry, 'Inside Us the Dead'.
Published novel, 'Pouliuli'.
Published novel, 'Leaves of the Banyan Tree'.
Won Wattie Book Award for 'Leaves of the Banyan Tree'.
Made Professor of Pacific Literature, University of the South Pacific.
Published collection of poetry, 'Shaman of Visions'.
Published collection of short stories, 'The Birth and Death of the Miracle Man'.
Appointed Professor of English, University of Auckland. He worked there until 2006.
Won Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for S-E Asia and Pacific Region for novel 'Ola'.
Published novel, 'Black Rainbow'.
Awarded Honorary Doctorate from University of Bourgogne, France.
Awarded the Order of Merit, Samoa.
Published collection of poetry, 'Photographs'.
Published 'The Best of Albert Wendt’s Stories'.
Awarded Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit, New Zealand.
Published collection of poetry, 'The Book of the Black Star'.
Published novel, 'The Mango’s Kiss'. Awarded Creative NZ’s Senior Artist Award. Play 'The Songmaker’s Chair' was first staged at Auckland Festival.
Awarded NIKKEI Asia Prize for Culture. Published collection of poetry,' Au fond de nous le morts'. Won Montana Book Award for anthology, 'Whetu Moana'. Held prestigious Citizens’ Chair, University of Hawaii, from 2004 until 2008. A documentary about Albert called 'New Oceania' by Shirley Horrocks, was released and screened internationally.
Awarded Honorary Doctorate from Victoria University, Wellington.
'Le Amataga', first solo exhibition of paintings, Honolulu, Hawaii.
Second solo exhibition of paintings, Auckland, New Zealand.
Awarded Honorary Doctorate from University of Hawaii. Published novel, 'The Adventures of Vela', which won Commonwealth Book Prize for the S-E Asia and Pacific Region.
Awarded Prime Minister’s Award for Literary Achievement in Fiction. Conferred ali’i title Maualaivao in Aiga Sa-Maualaivao. Published collection of short stories, 'Ancestry'. Published collection of poetry, 'From Manoa to a Ponsonby Garden'.
Awarded New Zealand’s highest honour, The Order of New Zealand.
Awarded Honorary Doctorate from National University of Samoa. Published autobiography, 'Out of the Vaipe, the Dead Water'. Published novel, 'Breaking Connections'.
Becomes an Icon Award recipient - the Arts Foundation highest honour.