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Maualaivao Albert Wendt ONZ CNZM’s Biography

Last Updated:
28/05/2024, 10:37 am
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“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 ONZ CNZM is regarded as the forefather of Pacific literature. Writing since the early 1960s, Wendt is internationally renowned as one of Oceania’s most influential novelists, poets, and thinkers. Over the past fifty years, his writing, teaching and research have had a significant impact on how Samoa, the Pacific, and New Zealand are perceived. In addition, his work has shaped how we structure, teach and read Pacific literature, history and art, and his influence on the way we understand indigenous cultures, colonialism and colonized peoples is immeasurable.

He has taught across Samoa, Fiji, New Zealand, and Hawai’i, where he has had a major impact on the development of Pacific Studies. Wendt has written eight novels, six collections of poetry, four collections
of short stories and he has edited nine anthologies. Sons for the Return Home (1973), was the first novel to be published by a Samoan writer, and in 1979 it also became the first feature film to be based on a novel by a Samoan. His work has been celebrated all over the world and has been translated into languages such as Chinese, Dutch, German, French and Japanese.

His awards include the Companion of the NZ Order of Merit (2001), New Zealand’s Senior Pacific Islands Artist’s Award (2003), Japan’s Nikkei Asia Prize for Culture (2004) and he also received New Zealand’s highest honour, the Order of New Zealand, for his Service to Literature in 2013. In 2012, the Aiga Sā-Maualaivao of Malie conferred on him as their highest ali'i title, Maualaivao, in a ceremony in Samoa. He is also a member of the Aiga Sā-Su’a of Lefaga, the Aiga Sā-Patu and Aiga Sā-Asi of Vaiala and Moata'a.