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.