Our Stories – Tala mai le Moana, is an attempt to create a resource guide to stories from Oceania. I compiled this list in response to multiple requests for leads to books by Samoan and Pasifika/Oceania writers, and for recommendations of stories ‘written by us, for us, and about us’.
This is by no means an exhaustive all-knowing all-seeing list. It is simply a listing of books and authors I have read and enjoyed, OR books that I think look intriguing and are on my TBR list! It is a forever growing list because our people are great storytellers and I am excited to discover more new writing every day.
A few things to note, ie Disclaimers…
- This is MY list. Not an academic course list for a Pacific Literature paper at university. Interpret that as you will.
- My list centers ‘indigenous’ writers from Oceania. I have included some indigenous Australian and New Zealand (Aboriginal/Torres Strait Islander and Maori) writers. It also includes Pasifika writers who live in countries outside the Pacific. (Noting that gets a bit messy sorry!)
- My list centers books set in Oceania. It also includes Pasifika authors writing fantastic fiction set in lots of other places.
- Fiction is my love, so my list is Fiction loving.
- I tried to organise my list into Young Adult, Middle Grade, Adult books, but it got a bit messy because as a child/teenager, I was reading and enjoying lots of books that are classed as ‘Adult’. So what I consider Young Adult may not fit YOUR idea of YA? When I put a comment on books saying they’re probably more ‘adult’, it’s only because I wasn’t too interested in them as a teen. But your teens may love it.
- My list does not include children’s picture books or plays.
- Some authors have many titles and I may have only included a few of them. Please look them up and find their other fabulous works.
- There are many good novels set in Oceania and about Pasifika people that are written by palagi/non-Pasifika authors, but I have chosen not to focus on those because my goal is to center stories written BY “us”. (There might be a couple in here though?)
I hope you find this list helpful as you seek out the vast, rich and diverse stories of Oceania. It is a resource-in-progress, so please do write in your suggestions and links to other Oceania writers that are not on here. Yet!
Sons for the Return Home. By Albert Wendt. (Samoa)
A story of star-crossed lovers that spotlights the complex nature of love, freedom, and racism in New Zealand and Samoa. A lyrical, powerful story of cross-cultural encounter. Now considered a classic of Pacific Literature.
Albert Wendt is the literal ‘father of Pacific Literature’, the first of us, who continues to lead and light the way in many different genres. And I’m not just saying that because he happens to be my uncle! I read this as a young teenager and I probably should have waited until I was a bit older because some of it troubled me heaps. Some of it made me angry, which in retrospect, was a good thing, because racism should make us angry. It’s a story that gives you a lot to think about long after you finish it.
Leaves of the Banyan Tree. By Albert Wendt. (Samoa)
A saga of three generations, Leaves of the Banyan Tree tells the story of a family and community in Western Samoa undermined by the changes brought about by colonialism. It is considered a classic work of Pacific literature and Wendt’s best novel. “A big story in every sense of the word… peopled by the richest assortment of characters in Pacific fiction, running the gauntlet of human action, the gamut of human emotion.” –New Zealand Herald.
This is a must read. Make that THE must read novel of Pacific Literature. Epic scale intense. Probably more of an ‘adult’ read? I read it as a teenager and didn’t appreciate it as much as I do now.
The Adventures of Vela. By Albert Wendt. (Samoa)
Winner of the 2010 Regional Commonwealth Writer’s Prize. “This novel-in-verse, with its chronicles of Samoa’s immortal songmaker Vela and other divine figures, is the result of a lifetime’s incubation and a slow rendering that owes a debt to both indigenous oral traditions and Western literature. A book that holds you in its grip (and that grip is the enticing voice of the storyteller), Vela is a sumptuous feast that brings to mind the resonating layers of Dante’s Divine Comedy or Boccaccio’s Decameron. Guy Somerset, NZ Listener
Island of Shattered Dreams. By Chantal Spitz. (Tahiti)
The first ever novel by an indigenous Tahitian writer. In a lyrical and immensely moving style, this book combines a family saga and a doomed love story, set against the background of French Polynesia in the period leading up to the first nuclear tests. The text is highly critical of the French government, and as a result its publication in Tahiti was polarising.
Maevarua and Teuira lead a peaceful life on a serene island in French Polynesia until their son – Tematua – is recruited to fight for the Motherland during World War II. Much to the dismay of his parents, he agrees to leave his beloved country to go where he is needed. Upon returning from Europe, Tematua doesn’t want to talk about his war experience. He slowly reacquaints himself with the islands when he meets beautiful Emere. Their love strikes like lightning. As the years pass by, Tematua and Emere – now having three wonderful children – still delight in being together. But their comfortable and quiet existence is suddenly, and once again, disturbed by the arrival of white people from the Motherland. See a review from Tales from Pasifika.
Where we once Belonged. By Sia Figiel. (Samoa) Contemporary/Adult.
Winner of the Commonwealth Prize, Sia Figiel’s debut is the first ever novel by a Samoan woman. Figiel uses the traditional Samoan storytelling form of su’ifefiloi to talk back to Western anthropological studies on Samoan women and culture. Told in a series of linked episodes, this powerful and highly original narrative follows thirteen-year-old Alofa Filiga as she navigates the mores and restrictions of her village and comes to terms with her own search for identity. A story of Samoan PUBERTY BLUES, in which Gauguin is dead but Elvis lives on — Vogue Australia. A storytelling triumph — Elle Australia.
The book that first showed me a story by a Samoan woman, and about Samoan women could actually #BeNovelWorthy. I read it as an adult but teenagers would be moved by this.
Alms for Oblivion. By Savea Sano Malifa. (Samoa)
Novel by Samoan poet, journalist, newspaper editor, and publisher. Savea is the founder and editor-in-chief of the Samoa Observer. The Pacific Islands News Association awarded him the Pacific Freedom of Information award for defending the right of the Samoan people to freedom of information and expression. In 1998, he received the Commonwealth Press Union‘s Astor Award and Index on Censorship‘s Press Freedom Award. In 2000, Malifa was named as one of the International Press Institute‘s 50 World Press Freedom Heroes of the past 50 years. TBR list.
The Bone People. By Keri Hulme. (NZ Maori)
In a tower on the New Zealand sea lives Kerewin Holmes, part Maori, part European, an artist estranged from her art, a woman in exile from her family. One night her solitude is disrupted by a visitor—a speechless, mercurial boy named Simon, who tries to steal from her and then repays her with his most precious possession. As Kerewin succumbs to Simon’s feral charm, she also falls under the spell of his Maori foster father Joe, who rescued the boy from a shipwreck and now treats him with an unsettling mixture of tenderness and brutality. Out of this unorthodox trinity Keri Hulme has created what is at once a mystery, a love story, and an ambitious exploration of the zone where Maori and European New Zealand meet, clash, and sometimes merge.Winner of both a Booker Prize and Pegasus Prize for Literature. I read this as a teenager and I should have waited until I was a bit older and ready for it!
The Alternative. By John Saunana. (Solomon Islands)
“Exploring the effects of colonialism, the novel tells the story of Maduru, an intelligent boy forced to inhabit two universes. Singled out for education at an exclusive, British-style boarding school, dubbed the ‘Eton of the Pacific’, he finds himself pulled between the culture he was born into and the one that has been imposed on his island home. At last, as British decolonisation sets in and old certainties begin to crumble, he is forced to choose between his place in the world and his sense of self.” Read the rest of the review at A Year of Reading the World. TBR list.
The Girl in the Moon Circle. By Sia Figiel. (Samoa)
“Samoa stripped bare through the eyes of a 10yr old girl”. The Girl in the Moon Circle, like the cover drawing, shows Samoan life through the eyes of a ten-year-old girl called Samoana. Though young, Samoana is perceptive, not much escapes her analysis. She tells us about school, church, friends, family violence, having refrigerators and television for the first time, Chunky cat food, a Made-in-Taiwan, Jesus, pay day, cricket, crushes on boys, incest, legends and many other things. Her observations offer a compelling look at Samoan society. Often fiction allows authors to tell truths that otherwise would be too painful; Sia Figiel is uninhibited. Her prose, in English and Samoan, hurtles readers toward the end of the book. Sia Figiel, herself, has mesmerized audiences around the Pacific Islands with readings from The Girl in the Moon Circle.
My favorite of Figiel’s writing. Some pieces best read aloud and ‘performed’ for an audience so you can all laugh together. Great for using with high school students to show them that ‘our voices’ can be in books and we don’t have to ‘Sound Palagi’ to be a writer. If you ever get the chance to hear Figiel do a reading from this? So epic.
Bulibasha: Mahana. By Witi Ihimaera. (NZ Maori.)
Bulibasha is the title given to the King of the Gypsies, and on the East Coast of New Zealand two patriarchs fight to be proclaimed the king. Tamihana is the leader of the great Mahana family of shearers and sportsmen and women. Rupeni Poata is his arch enemy. The two families clash constantly, in sport, in cultural contests and, finally, in the Golden Fleece competition to find the greatest shearing gang in New Zealand. Caught in the middle of this struggle is the teenager Simeon, grandson of the patriarch and of his grandmother Ramona, struggling with his own feelings and loyalties as the battles rage on many levels.
I first discovered Maori author Ihimaera through his short story The Tournament which they had us read at school. It was hilarious and I immediately set out to find more by the author. I read this book as a teenager and loved it. It’s an epic novel with an awesome teenage narrator, as well as a kickass grandmother.
Nights in the Gardens of Spain. By Witi Ihimaera. (NZ Maori)
David Munro has everything a man could want – a beautiful wife, two adoring daughters, a top academic position and a circle of devoted friends. But he also has another life, lived mainly at night and frequently in what he comes to know as ‘The Gardens of Spain’, the places where gay and bisexual men meet. Now he must choose which of these two lives to follow …Now in its fourth edition, Nights in the Gardens of Spain takes us along the precarious divide between sexuality and social mores, exploring dilemmas of contemporary gay culture with anger, laughter, sensitivity and honesty. ‘Ihimaera’s best book yet.’ -Evening Post
A powerful novel. Sometimes painfully sad. I really enjoyed this book.
Breadfruit. By Celestine Vaite. (Tahiti)
Tahitian author Vaite excels at depicting the warm sense of community that pervades her Tahitian island setting. Although Matarena Mahi has lived with her man, Pito, for 12 years and they have three children, they have never married. So when a drunken Pito proposes one night, Matarena’s spirits soar. Not quite ready to put the news out on the “coconut radio,” she surreptitiously gathers the necessary info: from ace baker Moeata, she learns the cost of a delicious chocolate cake, and from professional disc jockey Georgette, the kind of music to be played at the reception that will keep people dancing all night. But by the time Matarena has finished gathering the details, a sober Pito has failed to follow through on his proposal. Soon Matarena is crying copiously every time she hears Edith Piaf sing a love song. Will she ever feel like she is truly loved? In charming fashion, Vaite conveys universal truths about men and women and the mysteries at the heart of every romantic relationship.”
There’s 3 books in this series and I delighted in all of them, thrilled to find funny novels with women and girls I could relate to, and tons of family drama that reminded me of a Samoan aiga.
Rock Addiction. By Nalini Singh. (Fiji/NZ)
New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh stuns with a sizzling contemporary romance…A bad boy wrapped in a sexy, muscled, grown-up package might be worth a little risk…Molly Webster has always followed the rules. After an ugly scandal tore apart her childhood and made her the focus of the media’s harsh spotlight, she vowed to live an ordinary life. No fame. No impropriety. No pain. Then she meets Zachary Fox, a tattooed bad boy rocker with a voice like whiskey and sin, and a touch that could become an addiction. If we’re counting New York Times Bestseller listings, Nalini is probably the most successful Pasifika author on the planet. She is also the most prolific with nearly 50 books published. She writes paranormal/fantasy/romance and also contemporary romance. Her books have exquisite writing, diverse characters, and when reading any of her bestselling series, you may find yourself hooked and reading 6 books all in one go, forget sleep! I’m a huge fan.
Cherish Hard. By Nalini Singh. (Fiji/NZ)
Sailor Bishop has only one goal for his future – to create a successful landscaping business. No distractions allowed. Then he comes face-to-face and lips-to-lips with a woman who blushes like an innocent… and kisses like pure sin. Ísa Rain craves a man who will cherish her, aches to create a loving family of her own. Trading steamy kisses with a hot gardener in a parking lot? Not the way to true love. Then a deal with the devil (aka her CEO-mother) makes Ísa a corporate VP for the summer. Her main task? Working closely with a certain hot gardener. As Ísa starts to fall for a man who makes her want to throttle and pounce on him at the same time, she knows she has to choose – play it safe and steady, or risk all her dreams and hope Sailor doesn’t destroy her heart.
My Samoan Chief. By Fay Calkins. (Samoa) Autobiography
An engaging autobiographical account of a young American woman’s life in her Samoan husband’s native home. Fay Calkins met Vai Ala’ilima, while working on her doctoral dissertation in the Library of Congress. After an unconventional courtship and a typical American wedding, they set out for Western Samoa, where Fay was to find a way of life totally new and charming, if at times frustrating and confusing.
The author isn’t Samoan but she married one and lived here long enough that I’m putting her on the list. This book was such a memorable treasure of my teen reading years, hence my adding it here. It’s autobiographical, but as a 15yr old I read it as a Samoan romance – so it was very much like fiction to me! I was a big reader of Harlequin romance novels and this seemed like a much funnier, more relatable kind of love story. They were a very real couple however, with a very real love story. The ‘Samoan Chief’ passed away in 2016 at the age of 95 and you can read a heartwarmingly beautiful tribute to him from his great-niece Sisilia Eteuati who is a barrister and writer. La’u lupe ua lele.
Secret Shopper. By Tanya Taimanglo. (Guam)
After moving to California from the tropical island of Guam, Phoenix Farmer’s marriage to her high school sweetheart, Bradley unravels. Forced to find a job, she retreats into the world of SECRET SHOPPING and thrives. As Phoenix discovers her true self without Bradley, she becomes an unwilling goddess with the help of her best friend Rachel. She snags the attention of Thomas-the creative, handsome and persistent target she has been assigned to evaluate. Can she hold off Thomas’s charm until her divorce becomes final? What will she decide when her father falls ill unexpectedly and pulls her back to Guam? This romantic comedy will have you cheering for Phoenix as she rises from the ashes and becomes a shinier version of her former self. A fun light read, with a rich foundation of family and culture.
Scarlet Lies. By Lani Wendt Young. (Samoa)
The first instalment in a saga that revolves around a Samoan woman trying to find her place in a traditional small island society. 16yrs ago, Scarlet’s family sent her away in disgrace. She’s been back once – with disastrous consequences. Now, her little sister is getting married and Scarlet’s headed home once more. Will this be the reunion she’s always longed for? Or will the lies of her childhood entangle her once more in their beautiful embrace? More than ‘just a romance’, this poignant story about the tangled connections between mothers, daughters and sisters – speaks with compelling insight and humor, of inherited trauma, desire and deception, and the power and stubbornness of love.
I love to read ‘chick-lit’, funny romance. I set out to write one with Scarlet, and while yes it IS funny and there IS lots of steamy romance, the story morphed and grew into something else as well. Not sure what you call it now. A messy family drama?
Scarlet Secrets. By Lani Wendt Young. (Samoa)
What you can’t say – owns you. What you hide – controls you. Scarlet knows the truth of these words all too well. As the stress of a family wedding builds, her resolve to be a #GoodDaughter wears thin and toxic truths begin to take their toll. Scarlet’s epic humor carries her through everything from (more!) forbidden croquembouche, to uku infestations and melon-like wardrobe malfunctions, and more of her family’s barbed idea of love. Sometimes you just have to laugh through life’s pain, or else you’ll cry your heart out. Right? Can Jackson be the strength that helps Scarlet break through the lies? Or will her secrets destroy them?
Manhattan Dreaming. By Anita Heiss. (Australia)
Lauren is a curator at the NAG – the National Aboriginal Gallery in Canberra. She’s good at her job, passionate about the Arts, and focused on her work – that is, when she’s not focusing on Adam, half-back for the Canberra Cockatoos.
But Adam is a player, on and off the field. Lauren knows he’s the one, but he doesn’t seem to feel the same way about her. If she just waits long enough, though, surely he’ll realise how much he needs her? Then her boss offers her the chance of a lifetime – a fellowship at the Smithsonian in New York. Lauren has to make some big decisions: The Man or Manhattan?
Tiddas. By Anita Heiss. (Australia)
A story about what it means to be a friend …Five women, best friends for decades, meet once a month to talk about books … and life, love and the jagged bits in between. Dissecting each other’s lives seems the most natural thing in the world – and honesty, no matter how brutal, is something they treasure. Best friends tell each other everything, don’t they? But each woman harbours a complex secret and one weekend, without warning, everything comes unstuck. Izzy, soon to be the first Black woman with her own television show, has to make a decision that will change everything. Veronica, recently divorced and dedicated to raising the best sons in the world, has forgotten who she is.
Xanthe, desperate for a baby, can think of nothing else, even at the expense of her marriage. Nadine, so successful at writing other people’s stories, is determined to blot out her own. Ellen, footloose by choice, begins to question all that she’s fought for.
When their circle begins to fracture and the old childhood ways don’t work anymore, is their sense of sistahood enough to keep it intact? How well do these tiddas really know each other?
The Graphologist’s Apprentice. By Whiti Hereaka. (NZ Maori)
When January’s obsession with a married man begins to jeopardise her emotional stability, she decides to risk it all and respond to a mysterious card with the words Tell me a secret… Not content with her home life or work place, January takes comfort in reading romance novels but is suddenly brought back to reality when she meets the secret keeper, Mae, a graphologist. The Graphologists Apprentice is a story about friendship and love and how both can be found in unexpected places. Shortlisted for the Regional 2011 Commonwealth Book Prize for Fiction.
Conquered. By Paula Quinene. (Guam)
“A WWII historical romance set in Guam. Conquered is a passionate love story, as much about its main characters, Guam native Jesi Taimanglo and American GI Johan Landers, as it is about author Paula Quinene’s passion for Guam itself. As her characters try to find a place for themselves amid the war, Jesi’s relatives, and the Chamorro traditions, Quinene charts a path through a seldom told story: Guam’s place in WWII. An original idea written with an original voice that invites readers in to the exotic world of the Pacific, complete with coconut trees, banana doughnuts, dolphins swimming in the ocean, and moonlight on Pago Bay, Conquered also recounts the brutal horrors of the Japanese occupation on Guam, a US territory largely forgotten back in the States.” On my TBR list.
Shark Dialogues. By Kiana Davenport. (Hawaii)
“An epic saga of seven generations of one family encompasses the tumultuous history of Hawaii as a Hawaiian woman gathers her four granddaughters together in an erotic tale of villains and dreamers, queens and revolutionaries, lepers and healers”. A gargantuan family epic centers on the awe-inspiring Hawaiian matriarch Pono, a prophet gifted with magic powers, and her four estranged, mixed-marriage granddaughters.
Song of the Exile. By Kiana Davenport. (Hawaii)
In this epic, original novel in which Hawaii’s fierce, sweeping past springs to life, Kiana Davenport, author of the acclaimed Shark Dialogues, draws upon the remarkable stories of her people to create a timeless, passionate tale of love and survival, tragedy and triumph, survival and transcendence. In spellbinding, sensual prose, Song of the Exile follows the fortunes of the Meahuna family–and the odyssey of one resilient man searching for his soul mate after she is torn from his side by the forces of war. From the turbulent years of World War II through Hawaii’s complex journey to statehood, this mesmerizing story presents a cast of richly imagined characters who rise up magnificent and forceful, redeemed by the spiritual power and the awesome beauty of their islands.
From a hospital bed a dying man unfolds the tale of an arduous life on the fringes of a Hawai‘i sugar plantation in the 1920s. There Kim Sung Wha―laborer, patriot, revolutionary, aviator―envisioned building an airplane from ricepaper, bamboo, and the scrap parts of a broken-down bicycle, an airplane that would carry him back to his Korean homeland and to his wife and children. Sung Wha’s dream is destined to fail, but this moving and passionate work is the story of a man who dares to life past the wreckage of shattered visions. A heroic story of loss, of deep love, and of rebirth.
Heat and Light. By Ellen Van Neerven. (Australia)
In this award-winning work of fiction, Ellen van Neerven takes her readers on a journey that is mythical, mystical and still achingly real. Over three parts, she takes traditional storytelling and gives it a unique, contemporary twist. In ‘Heat’, we meet several generations of the Kresinger family and the legacy left by the mysterious Pearl. In ‘Water’, van Neerven offers a futuristic imagining of a people whose existence is under threat. While in ‘Light’, familial ties are challenged and characters are caught between a desire for freedom and a sense of belonging. Heat and Light presents a surprising and unexpected narrative journey while heralding the arrival of an exciting new talent in Australian writing.
Behold the Many. By Lois-Ann Yamanaka. (Hawaii)
The eerily beautiful story of three young sisters, Anah, Aki, and Leah. In 1913, they are sent away from their family for treatment for tuberculosis to an orphanage in Hawaii’s Kalihi Valley. Of the three, two will die there, in spite of the nuns’ best efforts to save them, and only Anah, the eldest, will grow to adulthood.
Baby No Eyes. By Patricia Grace. (NZ Maori)
Do you hear the people calling?’ ‘No.’ ‘See there, dummy, you’re nowhere near dead.’ ‘Well, I don’t believe you. How would you know?’ ‘Of course I know, I do, I do, I know all about it . . .’ Tawera and his sister are inseparable, in a relationship that is impossible for others to share. In fact his whole whanau is bonded by secrets, a genealogy stitched together by shame, joy, love and sometimes grief. Patricia Grace’s major new novel merges recent headlines with stories of a heartfelt family history. It is an account of the mysteries that operate at many levels between generations, where the present is the pivot, the centre of the spiral, looking outward to the past and future that define it. There’s a way the older people have of telling a story, a way where the beginning is not the beginning, the end is not the end . . .
Where the Rekohu Bone Sings. By Tina Makereti. (NZ Maori)
From the Chatham Islands/ Rekohu to London, from 1835 to the 21st century, this quietly powerful and compelling novel confronts the complexity of being Moriori, Maori and Pakeha. In the 1880s, Mere yearns for independence. Iraia wants the same but, as the descendant of a slave, such things are hardly conceivable. One summer, they notice their friendship has changed, but if they are ever to experience freedom they will need to leave their home in the Queen Charlotte Sounds. A hundred years later, Lula and Bigs are born. The birth is literally one in a million, as their mother, Tui, likes to say. When Tui dies, they learn there is much she kept secret and they, too, will need to travel beyond their world, to an island they barely knew existed. Neither Mere and Iraia nor Lula and Bigs are aware that someone else is part of their journeys. He does not watch over them so much as through them, feeling their loss and confusion as if it were his own.
The Girl Child. By P.R Lakshman. (Fiji/NZ)
The Girl Child is a story of Priya, a Fiji/New Zealand-Indian, who marries Gurveer and moves continents, embracing Punjab, his North Indian home state, as her new home. Moving away from her family seems like a perfect solution to Priya to bury her childhood memories of rejection when she was born a girl. But when Priya discovers she is pregnant her past returns to haunt her, and she comes face to face with a society where female foeticide is as common as a game of cricket.
Transit of Venus. By Rowan Metcalfe. (Tahiti/Pitcairn Island/NZ)
The story of the Bounty mutiny is well known. Fletcher Christian’s mutineers set Captain William Bligh and others adrift in a ship’s boat. Bligh sailed some 5000 kilometres to safety; the mutineers returned to Tahiti before making their way to isolated and uninhabited Pitcairn Island. But what of the Tahitian women who joined the Bounty at Tahiti? Their powerful and compelling story is told in Transit of Venus. Mauatua and her friends and relatives speak directly to us in beautiful and startlingly perceptive ways as they move away from their homeland and pass into the feverish intensity of drunkenness, betrayal and murder that mark the early years on Pitcairn. In so doing they assert their place in a story that has fascinated readers for generations.
Tabu. By Moses Maladina. (Papua New Guinea)
Based on real events, this novel is set in 1997 Papua New Guinea. When he finds himself embroiled in a situation that could bring down the goernment, Edward Murray traces the mystery of his grandfather’s identity back to one man in Port Moreseby. Shocked by the answers he uncovers, and with unrest in Papua growing daily, the past seems as uncertain and troubling as the future.
Purple Heart. By Andrew Fiu. (Samoan/NZ) Memoir.
An affecting, insightful and warm memoir of growing up Samoan in New Zealand – and of coping with heart disease. Andrew Fiu came to Ponsonby, Auckland as a three-year-old, part of the wave of immigration from Samoa that turned Auckland’s inner city suburbs into a vibrant cultural melting pot. At 14 he was misdiagnosed as having flu when in fact he had rheumatic fever, a disease endemic in Pacific Island communities. As a result of the damage to his heart he was rushed to hospital. Since that time Andrew has had five open heart surgeries, a record anywhere. He has spent so much time in hospital that he says he grew up there, experiencing tender and expert care from doctors and nurses but also enduring appalling racism. This memoir is the story of his hospital years, his clashes with his parents’ traditional attitudes, the wisdom he learnt from his fellow patients and the medical miracles perfomed on his heart by famous surgeon Alan Kerr. It’s the story of growing up a Pacific Islander in Auckland. Memoir YA Pasifika will enjoy this also.
Headlocked. By Michael Kingston (USA) and illustrator Michael Mulipola (Samoan). Comics.
Mulipola’s graphic novel series Headlocked is a long-running collaboration with US writer Michael Kingston. Combining his love of wrestling with his love of comics, Headlocked follows the trials and tribulations of an aspiring professional wrestler. The latest novel in the series, Headlocked: The Last Territory, was funded by fans through a kickstarter campaign, eventually raising more than $30,000. The novel was published in 2014 and released at the San Diego Comic-Con. In 2006 Mulipola won the Gibson Award for Best New Zealand Comic Book Artist, for his Sesame Street Fighter comic strip (Dealer Man Comics, New Ground). He published further work with Dealer Man Comics, including Smacktown! (2004) and Lucha-a-Koko (2007, 2008).
Burn my head in Heaven. By John Pule. (Niuean)
“I just wanted to write about growing up in New Zealand, and about being the youngest of 17 kids and about migration—but I wasn’t sure how to organise ideas, so I just started writing.”
He also described his writing as a means of “decolonizing his mind”. His work expresses his experience as a Niuean in New Zealand.
Archangel’s Blade:Guild Hunter Series. By Nalini Singh. (Fiji/NZ)
Nalini Singh introduces readers to a world of beauty and bloodlust, where angels hold sway over vampires. Vampire hunter Elena Deveraux is hired by the dangerously beautiful Archangel Raphael. But this time, it’s not a wayward vamp she has to track. It’s an archangel gone bad. The job will put Elena in the midst of a killing spree like no other—and pull her to the razor’s edge of passion. Even if the hunt doesn’t destroy her, succumbing to Raphael’s seductive touch just may. For when archangels play, mortals break.
Ocean Light: The Psy-Changeling Series. By Nalini Singh. (Fiji/NZ)
Security specialist Bowen Knight has come back from the dead. But there’s a ticking time bomb in his head: a chip implanted to block telepathic interference that could fail at any moment – taking his brain along with it. With no time to waste, he should be back on land helping the Human Alliance. Instead, he’s at the bottom of the ocean, consumed with an enigmatic changeling . Kaia Luna may have traded in science for being a chef, but she won’t hide the facts of Bo’s condition from him or herself. She’s suffered too much loss in her life to fall prey to the dangerous charm of a human who is a dead man walking. And she carries a devastating secret that Bo could never imagine . . .But when Kaia is taken by those who mean her deadly harm, all bets are off. Bo will do anything to get her back – even if it means striking a devil’s bargain and giving up his mind to the enemy. ‘Paranormal romance at its best’ Publishers Weekly
An Ocean in a Cup. By Stephen Tenorio. (Guam)
The novel follows Tomas, a gifted young islander, who is tormented by an unexplainable darkness. As Tomas sets out to deliver his goods across the island, the reader is exposed to Tomas s memories which surfaces to help him through his difficult times and sheds light on the origin of his dark episodes. Staged in the late 1890s, the reader is treated to vistas and scenes of island life throughout the Marianas Archipelago and the South Pacific seas. The narrative is both deep and multi-layered with observations that seek to touch the social and psychological layers of small communities throughout the Pacific. Having a true appreciation for euphony, the author attempts to craft a narrative pleasant to the ear while hoping to expose the cultural dynamics of the indigenous communities of the Marianas namely, the Chamorro people in the literary context.
Home. By Larissa Behrendt. (Australia)
A story of homecoming, this absorbing novel opens with a young, city-based lawyer setting out on her first visit to ancestral country. Candice arrives at “the place where the rivers meet,” the camp of the Eualeyai where in 1918 her grandmother Garibooli was abducted. As Garibooli takes up the story of Candice’s Aboriginal family, the twentieth century falls away.Garibooli, renamed Elizabeth, is sent to work as a housemaid, but marriage soon offers escape from the terror of the master’s night-time visits. Her displacement carries into the lives of her seven children – their stories witness to the impact of orphanage life and the consequences of having a dark skin in post-war Australia. Vividly rekindled, the lives of her family point the direction home for Candice. Winner of the 2002 David Unaipon Award and the Commonwealth Writers Prize, South East Asia and South Pacific Region, Best First Book, 2005.
Her Sister’s Eye. By Vivienne Cleven. (Australia)
Winner of the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards, Prize for Indigenous Writing, 2004 … always remember where you’re from … ‘To the Aboriginal Famililes of Mundra this saying brings either comfort or pain. To Nana Vida it is what binds the generations. To the unwilling savant Archie Corella it portends a fate too cruel to name. For Sophie Salte, whose woman’s body and child’s mind make her easy prey, nothing matters while her sister Murilla is there to watch over her. For Murilla, fierce protector and unlikely friend to Caroline Drysdale, wife of the town patriarch, what matters is survival. In a town with a history of vigilante raids, missing persons and unsolved murders, survival can be all that matters. The stories – of the camp, the boy and his snake, the shooting – told and passed on, offer a release from the horrors of our past. As Nana Vida says, “That’s the story. I let it go now”.
Five Strings. By Apirana Taylor. (NZ Maori)
Mack is a larger-than-life street philosopher and Puti’s a former gang member looking for something more. Together, they’re at the bottom of the heap. They live out their lives in a haze of smoke and alcohol, accompanied by a host of other characters scraping by on the fringes of society. Will any of them be redeemed? A poignant and humorous love story.Apirana Taylor (Ngāti Porou, Te Whānau-ā-Apanui, Ngāti Ruanui, Te Āti Awa and Ngāti Pākehā) is the acclaimed author of two novels, six books of poetry, three books of short stories and two books of plays. He is also a musician, storyteller, actor and painter who tours nationally and internationally.
Barbed Wire and Cherry Blossoms. By Anita Heiss. (Australia)
Over 1000 Japanese soldiers break out of the No.12 Prisoner of War compound on the fringes of Cowra. In the carnage, hundreds are killed, many are recaptured, and some take their own lives rather than suffer the humiliation of ongoing defeat. But one soldier, Hiroshi, manages to escape. At nearby Erambie Station, an Aboriginal mission, Banjo Williams, father of five and proud man of his community, discovers Hiroshi, distraught and on the run. Unlike most of the townsfolk who dislike and distrust the Japanese, the people of Erambie choose compassion and offer Hiroshi refuge. Mary, Banjo’s daughter, is intrigued by the softly spoken stranger, and charged with his care.
For the community, life at Erambie is one of restriction and exclusion – living under Acts of Protection and Assimilation, and always under the ruthless eye of the mission Manager. On top of wartime hardships, families live without basic rights. Love blossoms between Mary and Hiroshi, and they each dream of a future together. But how long can Hiroshi be hidden safely and their bond kept a secret?
The Swan Book. By Alexis Wright. (Australia)
The Swan Book is set in the future, with Aboriginals still living under the Intervention in the north, in an environment fundamentally altered by climate change. It follows the life of a mute teenager called Oblivia, the victim of gang-rape by petrol-sniffing youths, from the displaced community where she lives in a hulk, in a swamp filled with rusting boats, and thousands of black swans driven from other parts of the country, to her marriage to Warren Finch, the first Aboriginal president of Australia, and her elevation to the position of First Lady, confined to a tower in a flooded and lawless southern city. The Swan Book has all the qualities which made Wright’s previous novel, Carpentaria, a prize-winning best-seller. It offers an intimate awareness of the realities facing Aboriginal people; the wild energy and humour in her writing finds hope in the bleakest situations; and the remarkable combination of storytelling elements, drawn from myth and legend and fairy tale.
That Deadman Dance. By Kim Scott. (Australia)
The Swan Book is set in the future, with Aboriginals still living under the Intervention in the north, in an environment fundamentally altered by climate change. It follows the life of a mute teenager called Oblivia, the victim of gang-rape by petrol-sniffing youths, from the displaced community where she lives in a hulk, in a swamp filled with rusting boats, and thousands of black swans driven from other parts of the country, to her marriage to Warren Finch, the first Aboriginal president of Australia, and her elevation to the position of First Lady, confined to a tower in a flooded and lawless southern city. The Swan Book has all the qualities which made Wright’s previous novel, Carpentaria, a prize-winning best-seller. It offers an intimate awareness of the realities facing Aboriginal people; the wild energy and humour in her writing finds hope in the bleakest situations; and the remarkable combination of storytelling elements, drawn from myth and legend and fairy tale.
Carpentaria. By Alexis Wright. (Australia)
Alexis Wright’s second novel, Carpentaria, is set in north-western Queensland, where her people come from. Inspired by the real-life negotiations that occurred over native title rights, Wright delves into this issue in a colloquial Aboriginal voice. Blending myths and scripture with politics and farce, the story creates a strong image of life lead by the powerful Phantom family – who are the leaders of the Westend Pricklebush people – and the battles they faced against the Eastend mob and white officials. This intriguing novel bringing to light the issues often unheard from an Aboriginal standpoint won the most prestigious literary prize in Australia, the Miles Franklin Literary Award.
Not Just Black and White. By Lesley and Tammy Williams. (Australia)
Respected Murri (Aboriginal) Elder Lesley Williams and her daughter, barrister Tammy Williams, embark on an incredible memoir between mother and daughter, speaking through honesty and humour to ensure history is not forgotten. At a young age, Lesley was forced to leave the Cherbourg Aboriginal Settlement to work as a domestic servant who never saw her wages and taught not to question life. When desperation arose, so did a nine-year journey seeking answers. Inspired by her mother, Tammy entered an essay about injustice into a national writing competition, winning a prize that led them to Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch, and consequently the United Nations in Geneva. Discovering friendship where they didn’t think it was likely as well as gaining courage, this is a remarkable story that must be read to be believed.
School for Hawaiian Girls. By Georgina Ka’apuni McMillan. (Hawaii)
Georgia Ka’apuni McMillen chronicles the inner workings of a native-Hawaiian family overcoming poverty to achieve wealth and independence. This tale of rags-to-riches is uniquely rendered as the author peels back the story of heroism and self-sacrifice. Underneath, she reveals a deep wound that plagues this family as it binds it together in secrecy, the 1922 murder of their 16-year-old sister, Lydia. While most murder mysteries grapple with whodunit, School for Hawaiian Girls focuses on the surviving siblings’ struggle with the first mystery presented, how to go on living after the murder. With an unflinching eye, the author follows the family’s decision to stop speaking of Lydia and its tragic consequence over the next two generations. This leads to the second mystery, how they might remember Lydia and who they were – and learn to understand who they have become. What is the cost of forgetting? What is the value of remembering? These questions are at the heart of this debut work.
Taboo. By Kim Scott. (Australia)
Taboo takes place in the present day, in the rural South-West of Western Australia, and tells the story of a group of Noongar people who revisit, for the first time in many decades, a taboo place: the site of a massacre that followed the assassination, by these Noongar’s descendants, of a white man who had stolen a black woman. They come at the invitation of Dan Horton, the elderly owner of the farm on which the massacres unfolded. He hopes that by hosting the group he will satisfy his wife’s dying wishes and cleanse some moral stain from the ground on which he and his family have lived for generations. But the sins of the past will not be so easily expunged.
Tiare. By C’lestine Hitiura Vaite. (Tahiti)
In the Tahitian town of Faa’a the daily routine is relaxed and pleasantly predictable. But there’s one thing you cannot escape and that’s the watchful eye of the family. News travels fast on the ‘coconut radio’ and before you know it every cousin, in-law and neighbour who’s been into the local store or bakery that day knows your business. And Materena Mahi, champion professional listener, has a problem that everyone’s talking about: her husband, Pito, is a big zero. He has never impressed the family, and now the children are grown-up and she has her own successful radio show, even Materena is beginning to wonder why she still puts up with him. But big changes are on the horizon for the Mahi household. When baby Tiare is literally abandoned on the doorstep of her bewildered grandparents, Materena has some very new ideas about who’s going to be left holding the baby…
The 7th Relic. By Logo Filloon. (USA/Samoa)
The Ranch, an arcane institute for “hired security,” is attacked by Jleroh, the Blue Demon who is after the relic. An orphan, Grace discovers she is the temporary Bearer of the Seventh Relic…by default. She finds herself lost and alone in the Bay Area, chased by a horde of demons called the Skytes. Jleroh’s own personal army. Andrew Teo is called back to retrieve the relic and return it to Kalorii for the Rising of Karas, the Sun God. But when he arrives he finds the Ranch deserted and burned to the ground. As the Bearer of the first six relics he must bring all seven back to his realm or there will be no sun for another millennia. When he discovers that Grace has the relic and is somewhere in the city he and his companions go on a search for the missing carrier. Andrew is not looking forward to seeing Grace again. For on the road back to Kalorii, Andrew will struggle to keep Grace at arm’s length, despite being in love with her since childhood. As her own feelings for him awaken, she weakens his effort to keep her at bay as time runs out. To save his realm, and maybe himself, the Seventh Relic is not the only thing Andrew needs, but Grace herself.
YOUNG ADULT AND MIDDLE GRADE
Telesa – The Covenant Keeper By Lani Wendt Young. (Samoa) YA
An island of secrets. A girl on fire. An epic battle of the elements. Can love truly conquer all? A thrilling love story inspired by Pacific mythology – featuring a sinister sisterhood of beautiful women with an environmental agenda and a fiery yet vulnerable young woman who must master her gifts – before they destroy her and all those she cares about.
“A gripping story that whips the reader along. It’s depiction of Leila’s struggles with identity, sexuality and society’s expectations will resonate with teens and ex-teens all over the world, while its warm portrayal of Samoan culture gives it a character all its own.” Ann Morgan, ‘A Year of Reading the World’, Freelance Editor/Writer, Guardian, U.K
When Water Burns. By Lani Wendt Young.
Book 2 in the Telesa Series. As a malicious telesa plots her revenge, a mysterious stranger arrives on the island. Fuelled by hate and running from a fiery past, he looks to Leila for answers and she must fight to contain the fury of fanua-afi while trying to protect all those she loves. It seems that this is a battle she must wage alone, for Daniel’s ocean birthright cannot be denied and he refuses to walk beside her. Are Leila and Daniel destined to be forever divided by the elements? When it comes to Water and Fire, daughter of earth and son of the ocean – who will endure? When water burns?
The Bone Bearer. By Lani Wendt Young.
Book 3 in the Telesa Series. Pele’s awakening has caused cataclysmic fear throughout the Telesa guardians of the Pacific and they are gathering their forces, preparing to defend the Blue Continent from the devastating threat of the Fire Goddess. Only one thing can destroy her – the Tangaloa Bone. The race is on to recover the three pieces of this ancient weapon and the question remains: who will wield the power of the Bone Bearer? And can Leila survive its apocalyptic fury?
Illumine Her. By Sieni A.M (Samoa) YA
Alana Vilo finally returns home to Samoa and knows nothing will ever be the same. Consumed with grief from the loss of her father, she buries herself in her work and the obligations that come with a large family.
While her colleagues anticipate the arrival of a mysterious benefactor, Alana remains unimpressed, until she meets him. Chase Malek is not at all what she expects of the philanthropist that has donated so much to help her island’s hospital. Alana starts to resurface as she attempts to uncover all of Chase’s secrets. As she starts to put the pieces together, she learns more about herself, and the walls she put up after her father’s death slowly start to crumble. But now that she’s opened her heart and let Chase in, will he even be able to stay? Or will his greatest secret of all keep them apart?
Lani says – A beautifully written YA love story with just enough fantasy elements thrown in to make it #heavenly lol. There’s humour and I loved seeing my teenage self and friends in Alana’s circle. Chase is enigmatic and hot.
Scar of the Bamboo Leaf. By Sieni A.M (Samoa) YA
While most girls her age are playing sports and perfecting their traditional Samoan dance, Kiva finds serenity in her sketchbook and volunteering at the run-down art center her extended family owns, nestled amongst the bamboo.
When seventeen-year-old Ryler Cade steps into the art center for the first time, Kiva is drawn to the angry and misguided student sent from abroad to reform his violent ways. Scarred and tattooed, a friendship is formed when the gentle Kiva shows him kindness and beauty through art, until circumstances occur beyond their control and they are pulled away.
Immersed in the world of traditional art and culture, this is the story of self-sacrifice and discovery, of acceptance and forbearance, of overcoming adversity and finding one’s purpose. Spanning years, it is a story about an intuitive girl and a misunderstood boy and love that becomes real when challenged.
The Binding. By Logo Filloon. (USA/Samoan) YA
The first book in the Velesi Trilogy by Samoan author L.Filloon. Two nights after her eighteenth birthday, Lily is attacked while out jogging but is saved by Tharin Lunar, a Sidhe prince. When she discovers her attacker is her own brother, Lucas, who disappeared four years ago, Lily refuses to believe he would truly hurt her and becomes determined to find Lucas and bring him home. She finds Lucas’s disappearance is somehow tied to Tharin; so when he informs her that she is his betrothed and must return with him to Velesi, fulfill a treaty between their families and unite the two strongest clans through their marriage, Lily agrees. However, she is not going to Velesi for a wedding, but to bring home her only family, Lucas.
Gravity. By Tracey Poueu-Guerrero. (USA/Samoan) YA/Romance.
A coming of age love story. Eva Michaels has been groomed for greatness on the field and on the court. Her four brothers have trained her and molded her into one of the top female athletes in California. Oblivious to her beauty, she hides behind the tomboy persona. She’s happy with her routine. Until the day she meets the emerald-eyed Dream-Boy who saves her from a hazing at the hands of the neighborhood bully.
I was excited to find this YA novel and also to meet Tracey, connecting at a romance writers book convention. We need more Pasifika writing YA and romance, and then we can have a whole contingent of us go to these conventions!
Clarity. By Tracey Poueu-Guerrero. (USA/Samoan) YA
Eva finishes her last year of college on her own terms and realizes a new dream, one without sports. Her passion for singing deepens and her hobby becomes a dream. Colton continues his quest for the Major League without Eva and finds himself in the most unlikely of cities. He struggles with whether baseball is still his dream now that he is on his own. Life is unpredictable and sometimes you realize sooner who matters, who never did and who always will. Every choice has a consequence … sometimes those consequences can rip you apart. The repercussions … unforgivable. As the two discover themselves apart from one another….can their love withstand life’s curve balls? Is it strong enough to bring them back together?
Dawn Raid. By Pauline Vaeluaga Smith. (Samoa/NZ)
Like many 13-year-old girls, Sofia’s main worries are how to get some groovy go-go boots, and how not to die of embarrassment giving a speech at school! But when her older brother Lenny starts talking about marches and protests and overstayers and how Pacific Islanders are being bullied by the police for their passports and papers, a shadow is cast over Sofia’s sunny teenage days. Through her heartfelt diary entries, we witness the terror of being dawn-raided and gain an insight into the courageous and tireless work of the Polynesian Panthers in the 1970s as they encourage immigrant families across New Zealand to stand up for their rights.
Cousins. By Patricia Grace. (NZ Maori) YA
Mata, Makareta, and Missy, three Maori cousins, once shared a magical childhood moment. They have since followed separate and very different paths, yet their struggles offer insightful glimpses into the lives of contemporary New Zealand women. Patricia Grace’s keen eye records the psychological, cultural, and political circumstances that color and circumscribe their worlds in this engaging, compassionate story.
Grace Beside Me. By Sue McPherson. (Australia) YA
Written from teenager girl Fuzzy Mac’s perspective, Grace Beside Me is a quirky, warmly rendered story of home and family life in a small town. Awkward episodes of teen rivalry and romance sit happily alongside the mystery of Gran’s visions and an encounter with a ghost. The story sits against a backdrop of amazing characters including the holocaust survivor who went to school with Einstein; the sleazy, once-good-looking Mayor; the little priest always rushing off to bury someone before the heat gets to them; the wife basher up the road; Lola’s Forest, dedicated to Lola, a traditional Aboriginal woman who met Ned Kelly — and Nan and Pop. Grace Beside Me interweaves the mundane with the profound and the spiritual — it is full of wisdom and good advice (Fuzzy call’s Nan ‘the queen of all knowing’) on everything from how to to ‘sit a while’ in the bush and connect with country to how to properly hang out the washing.
Young Queen: The Story of a girl who Conquered the World. By Parris Goebel. (Samoa/NZ) Autobiography
Crazy. Bold. Fearless. Parris Goebel was destined to make her mark. Young Queen is the autobiography of a dancer with a dream . . . a young Polynesian girl who grew up in New Zealand and went on to conquer the hip hop world. In this honest memoir, Parris Goebel shares the extraordinary story of how she went from high-school dropout to award-winning dancer, choreographer and video director. At just 19, Parris got her big break choreographing for Jennifer Lopez. She has since worked with some of the biggest stars in music, including Janet Jackson, Rihanna and Justin Bieber, creating his record-breaking video, ‘Sorry.’ In these pages, Parris reveals the challenges, fears and obstacles she’s faced on her journey and gives fans and readers a backstage look into her life and the lessons she’s learned. Filled with photos from Parris’s personal collection, on tour and on set, this is a fun and inspiring read for anyone with a dream
The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf. By Ambelin Kwaymullina. (Australia) YA
A twisting eco-dystopian with Dreamtime themes. Ashala Wolf has been captured by Chief Administrator Neville Rose, a man intent on destroying Ashala’s Tribe – the runaway Illegals hiding in the Firstwood. Injured and with her Sleepwalker ability blocked, Ashala is forced to succumb to the machine that will pull secrets from her mind. And right beside her is Justin Connor, her betrayer, watching her every move. This is the first book in a thrilling dystopian series by Indigenous Australian author Ambelin Kwaymullina. With a dollop of adventure and a dash of romance, it will grip young adult fiction readers from the first page. In 2012, this novel was short-listed in both the Science Fiction and Young Adult categories of the Aurealis Awards. Im dying to read this and frustrated because for some odd reason my Kindle wont let me buy it?! TBR.
Killing Darcy. By Melissa Lucashenko. (Australia)
When sixteen-year-old Filomena spends the summer with her father in New South Wales, Australia, she becomes involved in a murder from her family’s past and as well as the prejudices experienced by Darcy, a gay Aboriginal who works for Fil’s father. Winner of the Aurora Prize of the Royal Blind Society and a finalist for the 1998 Aurealis Award for best young-adult novel.
Rise of the Fallen. By Teagan Chilcott. (Australia) YA/Paranormal/Romance.
The first in a series of novels with demons, angels and elementals at war for power.This contemporary, super-sharp story with sardonic humour features a feisty main character in Emilie and a love triangle. The battles take place in familiar settings: shopping malls, street corners, the Australian bushland and up and down the Queensland coast. Emilie, fire elemental, and Cael, water elemental, are wanted by the entire demonic realm. Lying low in the human realm – as students at a Brisbane school – Emilie encounters the mysterious and charming Soul, and soon finds herself lost in the very world she’s been running from for centuries. WINNER – 2012 black&write! kuril dhagun Indigenous Writing Fellowship.
Sister Heart. By Sally Morgan. (Australia) YA/Middle Grade.
A young Aboriginal girl is taken from the north of Australia and sent to an institution in the distant south. There, she slowly makes a new life for herself and, in the face of tragedy, finds strength in new friendships. Poignantly told from the child’s perspective, Sister Heart affirms the power of family and kinship. ‘This beautiful verse novel from Sally Morgan can be used as a personal and approachable conversation-starter about the Stolen Generations for mature young readers … its message is powerful.’
Street Dreams. By Tama Wise. (NZ) YA
Tyson Rua has more than his fair share of problems growing up in South Auckland. Working a night job to support his mother and helping bring up his two younger brothers is just the half of it. His best friend Rawiri is falling afoul of a broken home, and now Tyson’s fallen in love at first sight. Only thing is, it’s another guy. Living life on the sidelines of the local hip-hop scene, Tyson finds that to succeed in becoming a local graffiti artist or in getting the man of his dreams, he’s going to have to get a whole lot more involved. And that means more problems. The least of which is the leader of the local rap crew he’s found himself running with. Love, life, and hip-hop never do things by half.
Name Me Nobody. By Lois Ann Yamanaka. (Hawaii) YA/Middle Grade
Emi-Lou–overweight, lonely, and alienated from her family–struggles to understand the romantic feelings that Von, her best girlfriend, develops for an older girl on their softball team. A powerful novel of friendship, family, sexuality, and identity in which 13-year-old Emi-Lou struggles with coming of age and middle school in Hawaii.
Heart of the Tapu Stone. By Olivia Aroha Giles. (NZ) YA
Laurel is bought up in a world of privilege, in Wellington by her New Zealand European father, Colin. She is then forced to spend a summer in the sticks, with Doctor Ana Kingi, her mother who abandoned her as a baby. As Laurel is drawn into the fabric of the small town she meets Romeo, a boy taken off the streets of South Auckland by his Uncle, Robert McGregor, who is Ana’s childhood friend. Laurel also comes up against Mauki, a tough misunderstood local girl carrying a burden almost impossible to bear. Together, Laurel and Ana discover how alike they really are. They unravel the past that kept them apart, and they uncover a seething pool of secrets, some, with the power to tear families apart. Heart of the Tapu Stone is a story about connections, not just blood and family. A classic ‘fish out of water’ tale, where city, country, maori and pakeha all meet.
Written in the Sky. By Mathew Kaopio. (Hawaii) YA
A young abandoned Hawaiian boy, living among the homeless in Ala Moana Park, spends his days observing tourists, swimming in the ocean and rummaging in the trash. At first glance there is nothing special about young Ikauikalani, till you learn he can see the future in the movements of the clouds. Following directions received from his deceased grandmother, Ikau sets off on a journey of self-discovery releasing his past and helping him to understand his own future.
Night Fisher. By R. Kikuo Johnson. (Hawaii) Graphic novel/YA.
Compelling graphic novel-length drama of young men on the cusp of adulthood. First-rate prep school, S.U.V., and a dream house in the heights: This was the island paradise handed to Loren Foster when he moved to Hawaii with his father six years ago. Now, with the end of high school just around the corner, his best friend, Shane, has grown distant. The rumors say it’s hard drugs, and Loren suspects that Shane has left him behind for a new group of friends.
Fear to Love. By Jadyn Ualesi. (Samoa) YA
First novel from young Samoan author. Published when she was 18yrs old, she now has 3 books released. In “Fear to Love,” Ualesi set out to demonstrate the importance of healthy and respectful relationships, particularly for teens and young adults. “I see my peers so often jump head-first into dating someone before truly considering the implications of their relationship,” Ualesi said. “My goal is to normalize healthy relationships and teach others to be okay with waiting for the right person.”
The Children of the Gods. By Semisi Pone. (Tonga)
A story about ancient Polynesia when people still believed in Gods, demons, magic and divine Kings. A couple with no children made sacrifices to the Gods to grant them children. Latou, a fisherman, was blown by a storm to meet ‘Etumatupu’a; a God in disguise, who granted him 4 children. An evil Lord from the North plans to steal the daughter of the Tu’i Tonga and steal his empire. The kids recruited the help of the Gods to defeat him and protect their island.
One Boy, No Water. By Lehua Parker. (Hawaii) Middle Grade/YA.
The first book in the Niuhi Shark Saga. In Hawaii, thirteen-year-old adopted Zader Kaonakai Westin is living in his brother Jay’s shadow. Jay Kapono Westin is popular—a good student and a surfing star, almost guaranteed a spot at prestigious Ridgemont Academy next year. Zader, on the other hand, is the weird kid allergic to water who sits above the beach and sketches all day. When Jay has a shark scare that keeps him out of the ocean, things are set in motion that forever change their destiny. It’s going to push Zader, Jay, and their friend Char Siu beyond their limits to solve The Niuhi Shark Saga.
One Truth, No Lie. By Lehua Parker. (Hawaii) Middle Grade/Fantasy.
In a world where Pacific myths and legends come to life, fans of Disney’s Moana, Lilo & Stitch, The Karate Kid, and the Percy Jackson series will love the conclusion to The Niuhi Shark Saga trilogy. This edition contains additional content and a discussion guide, which teachers will find helpful.
Arohanui: Revenge of the Fey. By Helen Pearse Otene. (NZ) Graphic Novel/Middle Grade.
This graphic novel is a story of two hostile tribes: one thriving, the other starving and forced to enter into a hard bargain to survive. In the midst of the conflict, two lovers from opposing tribes, Kāhu and Kuratawhiti, plan to bring their warring tribes together through their marriage. But tragedy looms as Kāhu defends his beloved Kuratawhiti against his treasured sister, Mira, who unleashes a lifetime of rage on Kuratawhiti and her people.A Māori language version is also available, Arohanui: Te Utu a Ngaī Parehe.This is part of the Matawehi Fables/Ngā Waituhi o Matawehi. Another title is also available in English, Meariki: The Quest for Truth, and in Māori, Meariki: Te Rapunga i te Pono.
Kino and the King. By Jen Angeli. (Hawaii) Middle Grade. Fantasy.
“12 year old Kino and her mother move to Hawaii to live with her maternal grandparents in Kalihi, Oahu. With her grandfather ill and her family facing eviction from their home, Kino discovers that she has an ancient destiny to save both Hawaii and her grandfather by going back in time to 1825. There she meets the young Kamehameha III just prior to his ascension to the throne. After meeting with a kahuna at a heiau, it becomes clear that in order to return to her own time, Kino must go on a quest for four objects gathered from various parts of Oahu—and of course the young prince is going to come along. As the adventure quest plot unfolds, Jen deftly weaves in aspects of Hawaiian culture and history. Islanders will recognize kapu customs, protocol, and Hawaiian legends such as night marchers, Pele, Kamapua‘a, sacred waterfalls, ‘aumakua, choking ghosts, and magic gourds and calabashes.”
Watched. By Tihema Baker. (NZ Maori) Middle Grade.
One minute Jason and Rory wake up in their dorm room at boarding school, the next, they have been transported to an intensive training facility for teens with superpowers. Equipped with the abilities to manipulate gravity and harness dark energy, Jason and Rory discover their strengths, weaknesses – and themselves. Enveloped in a realm of action, mystery and superhuman powers, the two protagonists believe they are being trained to hone their powers and ensure the ongoing survival of humanity. But as they grow more powerful and discover the secrets of the Watchers, Jason and Rory struggle to keep their friendship intact and support the Watched whose real aim is to control the Earth and all on it. Teacher’s notes are also available for this publication.
Birth. Zader’s Story. By Lehua Parker. (Hawaii) Middle Grade.
On a beautiful Sunday morning in Lauele Town, Hawaii, all Uncle Kahana wants to do is jump in the ocean and catch some breakfast. Too bad there’s something in the water that wants to eat a skinny old man. Unnerved, Kahana and ‘Ilima decide to comb the reef and look for ‘opihi instead. What they find changes everything. There are two versions of the same story in this eBook: one told using standard American English and the other with Hawaiian Pidgin English and Hawaiian phrases. If you know the difference between makai and mauka and what a loco moco is, you know which version to read.
Whale Rider. By Witi Ihimaera. (NZ Maori) Middle Grade/YA/Everybody.
Eight-year-old Kahu craves her great-grandfather’s love and attention. But he is focused on his duties as chief ofa Maori tribe in Whangara, on the East Coast of New Zealand – a tribe that claims descent from the legendary ‘whale rider’. In every generation since the whale rider, a male has inherited the title of chief. But now there is no male heir – there’s only kahu. She should be the next in line for the title, but her great-grandfather is blinded by tradition and sees no use for a girl. Kahu will not be ignored. And in her struggle she has a unique ally: the whale rider himself, from whom she has inherited the ability to communicate with whales. Once that sacred gift is revealed, Kahu may be able to re-establish her people’s ancestral connections, earn her great-grandfather’s attention – and lead her tribe to a bold new future. Lani says – Even if you watched the movie, you need to read this book.
Too Flash. By Melissa Lucashenko. (Australia) Middle Grade.
If you are black, overweight and incredibly self-conscious, life sucks and it sucks even more when your single white mum moves you to the city, where learning to fit in is even harder than before. Bring problems to us before they’re too big to handle, the Principal advises Zo when she arrives at her new city school. But good advice isn’t much help to Zo. Her Mum’s still a workaholic, and her best friend is still a thousand miles away, back home.Zo soon teams up with Missy. She’s cheeky, smart, a mean soccer player and believes in magic. She comes from a tough family that doesn’t take crap from anyone and it shows. She’s all muscles and attitude like a cattle dog on the warpath. Zo is more laid back – having money makes for a bigger comfort zone, even if you are fat and black.A showdown can’t be far away when Zo and Missy’s worlds collide. It’s not a racial issue – or is it?
Inna Furey. By Isabel Waiti-Mulholland. (NZ) YA
The first time Leanne looks into Inna Furey’s eyes she feels a cold wind blowing on her face. It doesn’t take long for Leanne to change her question, ‘Who is this new girl?’ to another, far more mysterious one: ‘What is she?’
This novel for young adults tells the story of Inna Furey, a new pupil at Leanne’s school who soon goes missing. Nobody knows what’s happened to her, except Leanne, and she can’t tell.
Josefa and the Vu. By Tulia Thompson. (Fiji/NZ) Middle Grade/YA
When Josefa is met by a giant mysterious warrior claiming to be an ancestral guardian spirit, everything gets chaotic. Meanwhile Jack Bucksworth, the school bully, has stolen his family’s sacred tabua and to get it back, Josefa and his friend Ming must embark on a terrifying adventure involving dangerous cliffs, cheeky brothers and eerie laughter.
Bugs. By Whiti Hereaka. (NZ) YA/Middle Grade
It’s always been Jez and me. Me and Jez, that’s how it has always been. So what did you expect? Did you think that maybe you’d find out what happened to us in the future, me and Jez, Jez and me? Have you been following along, ticking things off check, check, check, to find out who got their happy ending? Bugs is about the unfolding lives of three young people in their last year of school in small-town New Zealand. Life is slow, and it seems not much happens in town or in Jez and Bugs’s lives. But when Stone Cold arrives, the three come to different conclusions about how to deal with being trapped in a small town and at the bottom of the heap. Teacher’s notes are also available for this publication and can be downloaded
Patu. By Tim Tipene. (NZ) YA
In this powerful new novel for teenagers, 16-year-old Jahnine is having to fend for herself amidst a series of family misfortunes, with her mother is in hospital battling cancer and her brother gone without a trace. Family legend has it that a patu taken during the Land Wars by her great-great-grandfather has left a curse on them. Determined to return the patu and lift the curse, Jahnine turns to a strange Maori boy, Andy, and follows him away from Auckland to try and put things right. Nothing turns out the way she imagines in this powerful coming-of-age novel from Tim Tipene.
Calypso Summer. By Jared Thomas. (Australia) YA
A story told by Calypso, a young Nukunu man, fresh out of high school in Rastafarian guise. After failing to secure employment in sports retail, his dream occupation, Calypso finds work at the Henley Beach Health Food shop where his boss pressures him to gather Aboriginal plants for natural remedies. Growing up in urban Adelaide and with little understanding of his mother’s traditional background, Calypso endeavours to find the appropriate native plants. This leads him to his Nukunu family in the southern Flinders Ranges and the discovery of a world steeped in cultural knowledge. The support of a sassy, smart, young Ngadjuri girl, with a passion for cricket rivalling his own, helps Calypso to reconsider his Rastafarian facade and understand how to take charge of his future.
The Fisherman Prince. By E.W Wendt. (Samoa/USA) Wattpad serial fiction. YA
A 13-part serial fantasy fiction story, and building! All Koa wanted was to be a fisherman but in a wave of unexpected events, he is swept out of his village and into the King’s palace. There he takes his place amongst the Blood Brood, children of the King of Evari.
Lani says – A thrilling fantasy series that has readers counting the days until the next weekly Friday update! Wattpad is a community for readers and writers where one can discover new user-generated stories, spanning across different genres. Readers follow and vote on series that they like. Writers can build an international readership of many thousands in a supportive and engaging environment. An excellent forum for writers at all stages of their careers.
Ngarara Huarau. By Maxine Hemi. (NZ Maori) Graphic novel.
This graphic novel tells the story of Ngārara Huarau, a taniwha, that travels from Hawke’s Bay to Wairarapa in search of his sister, Pari-kawhiti. As he journeys, his movement shapes the landscape, and his hunger leads him to eat birds, seals, seafood and people, causing terror as he travels south. Finally, the Wairarapa people of Ngāti Tara ask Tūpurupuru and his warriors to kill Ngārara Huarau. Tūpurupuru constructs a trap and the warriors set upon Ngārara Huarau with weapons, and he sinks into the Uwhiroa swamp. But did he die?A Māori language edition is also available, Ngārara Huarau (Māori)
Crossing the Line. By Ngaire Vakaruru. YA
Why was he always being bullied? What was wrong with him? Why did no one come to his rescue? These questions tumbled around in Rory’s mind as he struggled to survive at a private boys’ school. When Jo arrived from Fiji on a rugby scholarship, the two young men became friends. But life soon began to spin out of control for Rory. Was he getting too close to Jo? Was he starting to lose his grip on who he was? Or was a new identity emerging? CROSSING THE LINE is the compelling story of a young man battling to break the chains of his family’s strong beliefs in order to forge his unique identity.
The Healer. By Kimo Armitage. (Hawaii)
Echoing the voices of long ago, the book celebrates the connection to stories of Hawaii as once told by grandparents and great-grandparents. In the world of The Healers, family and place are revered and aloha is heartfelt. Cousins Keola and Pua, chosen as the next generation of healers by their family, initially have an idyllic life as respected apprentice healers. Their days are spent training with their grandmother, investigating the healing properties of plants, and treating ailments of community and family members. Troubling dreams, however, foreshadow a sea change to come. One day, Pua meets and is immediately attracted to Tiki, a descendant of a powerful healing family from Tahiti, who has been mysteriously abandoned by his parents. Months later, Keola is sent across the island to train with Laka, the family’s most knowledgeable healer, who was born with no arms or legs. A life-threatening challenge awaits this close-knit unit, and they must call upon generations of ancestral knowledge and skill to save those that stand at the precipice of death.
Jandamarra and the Bunuba Resistance. By Banjo Woorunmurra and Howard Pederson. (Australia)
WINNER Western Australia Premier’s Book Award The thrilling story of the great Australian Aboriginal warrior, Jandamarra, who turned from police assistant to resistance fighter, leading his people against the white forces invading their land. With striking photographs of the Kimberley landscape.
Njunjul the Son. By Meme McDonald and Boori Monty Pryor. (Australia)
In the city you can feel like you don’t exist any more. You can’t always see the sun when it comes up, or lie down safe when it sets. Your mind can go crazy, crammed with everyone else’s thoughts, so you can’t hear your voice on the inside. An outstandingly honest, original, eye-opening story about a young man daring to step out into a complex world. Njunjul the Sun will make you laugh, even as it grips your heart. Njunjul the Sun completes the trilogy, begun with My Girragundji and The Binna Binna Man, charting the journey of self-discovery of a young Aboriginal boy as he learns to draw strength from his traditional heritage and to find a way of living in contemporary Australia. The boy is now a young man of sixteen, and he leaves his community in Queensland to live in Sydney.
Becoming Kirrali Lewis. By Jane Harrison. (Australia)
Set within the explosive cultural shifts of the 1960s and 1980s, Becoming Kirrali Lewis chronicles the journey of a young First Nations Australian teenager as she leaves her home town in rural Victoria to take on a law degree in the city of Melbourne in 1985. Adopted at birth by a white family, Kirrali doesn’t question her cultural roots until a series of life-changing events force her to face up to her true identity. Her decision to search for her biological parents sparks off a political awakening that no one sees coming, least of all Kirrali herself as she discovers her mother is white and her father is a radical black activist. Narrative flashbacks to the 1960s, where Kirrali’s biological mother, Cherie, is rebelling against her parent’s strict conservatism sees her fall into a clandestine relationship with a black man. Unmarried and pregnant, Cherie’s traumatic story of an unforgiving Australian society give meaning to Kirrali’s own rites of passage nearly twenty years later. The generational threads of human experience are the very things that will complete her. If only she can let go.
Between the Deep Blue Sea and Me. By Lurline Wailana McGregor. (Hawaii)
Moana Kawelo, PhD, has a promising career as a museum curator in Los Angeles. The untimely death of her father—and the gravitational pull of Hawai‘i when she returns home for his funeral—cause Moana to question her motivations and her glamorous life in California. Between the Deep Blue Sea and Me is the story of Moana’s struggle to understand her ancestral responsibilities, mend relationships, and find her identity as a Hawaiian in today’s world. Winner of the American Indian Library Association’s 2010 Best Young Adult Book
Thomas Kane:The Boy who knew Fire. By Logo Filloon. (USA/Samoa) MG
Thomas discovers that on his thirteenth birthday, he will go through a change and become the Shepherd. In five more years, he will be ready for the Awakening of the new Elements, and he will deliver them to the Ark of Life where the Old One’s wait to be released and replaced by Earth’s new Elements. But, like in every hero’s story, an ancient adversary disrupts the process and puts the world in peril. The Null, after millennia of waiting, has awakened the new Elements five years before their time. Embark on a journey where a young boy is destined to be the Elements’ Shepherd and earth’s most unlikely hero.
The Talion Witch. By Logo Filloon. (USA/Samoa)
It has been a year since the First and Third Greaneth of Velesi arrived in Pathen. In that time, Alorn and Mellis have hunted and sent back some of the UnderRealm’s deadliest of denizens that escaped during the Closing. But a new threat has been awakened by the expected arrival of new blood which will open the gateway for an ancient evil to return to Velesi. She is called The Talion Witch, and she will stop at nothing to take vengeance against those who exiled her to the realm of Pathen. Unfortunately for our heroes, one of their own possesses the new blood and the Talion Witch is killing all who stand in her way to get it. However, before they can get to the Witch, they must first face the deadly, but beautiful, Sister Assassins and a horde of shimodos—demon dogs.
The Oracle’s Amulet. By Logo Filloon. (USA/Samoa)
The Oracle’s amulet is missing. With its power, a nation will crumble and a mighty queen will be reduced to a mere puppet in the hands of her betrayer. In search of the amulet, an old enemy and an unlikely ally are in Pathen seeking the First Greaneth’s help. In the meantime, Mellis has his hands full with a visitor from Velesi—a young elf looking for his “uncle.”
Their quest for the amulet leads them back to Velesi and into Nyloth Woods, and into treacherous territory. Danger comes in many forms. For Alorn, repressed memories open old wounds, and the need to silence the weeping he’s lived with since childhood. Mellis discovers the true essence of the Silverfish and its connection to the girl with the purple shark birthmark. Book Two in the Greaneath Series.
The Whispering. By Logo Filloon. (USA/Samoa)
Tharin and Lily find themselves back in Pathen in search of Julia and the key to Eirrell, but old foes and new ones are in close pursuit. Adding to their plight, all doorways to Velesi have been closed. Forced to discover a way back to their realm, the group finds help from new friends and those who once stood against them are now allies. To make matters worse, a betrayal causes the door to the UnderRealm to open, allowing demons and monsters once imprisoned to roam the realm freely. Book three in the Velesi Trilogy.
The Drifting. By Logo Filloon. (USA/Samoa)
It is Lily’s first day in the Velesi realm but not as the princess she was made to believe, but as a captive to a strange Lithi elf name Ziri – Tharin and Tolan’s mysterious brother. Who is he and why has he taken her? Or is he only a pawn in someone’s deadly game of chess? Tharin and Lily discover a prophecy involving the Unnamed Sidhe and a way back to Eirrell, the birthplace of the Thirteen Clans. However, before they can get to the doorway to Eirrell, Lily must first make it to the Day of the Seating to take her rightful place on the throne of the Willow Clan. Book Two in the Velesi Trilogy.
Pounamu, Pounamu. By Witi Ihimaera. (NZ Maori)
The first work of fiction published by a Maori writer, it was the first collection of short stories that looked at contemporary Maori life and it launched the career of one of New Zealand’s best-known authors. “The dialogue, the humour, the common – but often significant – life events, are richly described. You get a sense of the aroha in the stories.”
Lani says – I was lucky enough to find a copy of this on our bookshelf when I was quite young. I read it somewhat furtively because I had the sense in some stories that my parents probably wouldnt want me reading it lol. But I flew through the stories and reread them many times. I’m so grateful that my first exposure to ‘grownup’ short fiction, was Ihimaera’s because the humor is brilliant and so relatable. His stories forever converted me to the importance of witty conversations and finding the story in everyday life.
Our Heritage the Ocean: The Samoa Observer Tusitala Short Stories Collection.
A collection of 17 stories from Pasifika writers and winners in the 2015 Samoa Observer Story competition. Read a review of the collection from Tales from Pasifika. A regional competition that had several hundred entries, the winning pieces were selected by a judging panel that included Dr Sina Vaai, Dr Selina Tusitala Marsh, and Lani Wendt Young.
Black Marks on the White Page. (NZ/Oceania)
A stunning collection of Oceanic stories for the 21st century.Stones move, whale bones rise out of the ground like cities, a man figures out how to raise seven daughters alone. Sometimes gods speak or we find ourselves in a not-too-distant future. Here are the glorious, painful, sharp and funny 21st century stories of Maori and Pasifika writers from all over the world. Vibrant, provocative and aesthetically exciting, these stories expand our sense of what is possible in Indigenous Oceanic writing.Witi Ihimaera and Tina Makereti present the very best new and uncollected stories and novel excerpts, creating a talanoa, a conversation, where the stories do the talking. And because our commonalities are more stimulating than our differences, the anthology also includes guest work from an Aboriginal Australian writer, and several visual artists whose work speaks to similar kaupapa.
Flying Fox in a Freedom Tree. By Albert Wendt. (Samoa)
This early collection of eight short stories and a novella is vintage Wendt. Stories convey the unease of traditional island community caught up in the rapid changes of the modern world. Wendt writes with enviable directness and with deep feeling: comedy and tragedy are often hard to distinguish as his characters struggle to come to terms with their changing world.
Tales of the Tikongs. By Epeli Hau’ofa. (Tonga/Fiji)
A collection of satirical short stories penned by Fijian/Tongan writer and anthropologist, Epeli Hau’ofa. In this lively satire of contemporary South Pacific life, we meet a familiar cast of characters: multinational experts, religious fanatics, con men, “simple” villagers, corrupt politicians. In writing about this tiny world of flawed personalities, Hau‘ofa displays his wit and range of comic resource, amply exercising what one reviewer called his “gift of seeing absurdity clearly.”
Attitude 13: A Daughter of Guam’s Collection of Short Stories. By Tanya Taimanglo.
Offers a glimpse into the life of Chamorros across the spectrum of humanity. Taimanglo’s anthology includes a myriad of voices and points-of-view with strong Chamorro themes. The stories range from humorous to poignant and offer a mirror for fellow Chamorros and a passport for others to be introduced to the Pacific Islander culture. From the pride of a “Hafa Adai” to the shackles of a culture scarred by colonialism, Attitude 13 is a literary expression of Taimanglo’s love for her island home of Guam.
This is Paradise. By Kristiana Kahakauwila. (Hawaii)
Elegant, brutal, and profound—this magnificent debut captures the grit and glory of modern Hawai’i with breathtaking force and accuracy. A stunning collection that announces the arrival of an incredible talent, Kristiana Kahakauwila travels the islands of Hawai’i, making the fabled place her own. Exploring the deep tensions between local and tourist, tradition and expectation, façade and authentic self, This Is Paradise provides an unforgettable portrait of life as it’s truly being lived on Maui, Oahu, Kaua’i and the Big Island. Kahakauwila’s stories remind us of the powerful desire to belong, to put down roots, and to have a place to call home.
Once Upon a time in Aotearoa. By Tina Makereti. (NZ)
A modern spin on Pacific and Maori mythologies. For example, myths about creation and the different Gods that we praise and give credit for the life we live today, she puts in modern contexts and modern stories -in turn making it easier for today’s generation/those not familiar with these myths, to understand the stories. “Vulnerable gods and goddesses; Children born with unusual gifts; The protection offered by Mountains; Birds with bad timing.” Once Upon a Time in Aotearoa explores a world where mythological characters and stories become part of everyday life. Old and new worlds co-exist, cultures mingle and magic happens. Familiar characters appear, but in these versions the gods live in a contemporary world and are motivated by human concerns. In this perplexing world, characters connect with each other and find ancient wisdom that carries them through.
Black Ice Matter. By Gina Cole. (Fiji/NZ)
This collection of short stories explores connections between extremes of heat and cold. Sometimes this is spatial or geographical; sometimes it is metaphorical. Sometimes it involves juxtapositions of time; sometimes heat appears where only ice is expected. In the stories, a woman is caught between traditional Fijian ways and the brutality of the military dictatorship; a glaciology researcher falls into a crevasse and confronts the unexpected; two women lose children in freak shooting accidents; a young child in a Barbie Doll sweatshop dreams of a different life; secondary school girls struggle with secrets about an addicted janitor; and two women take a deathly trip through a glacier melt stream. These are some of the unpredictable stories in this collection that follow themes of ice and glaciers in the heat of the South Pacific and take us into unusual lives and explorations.
The best short stories and novel extracts from the Pikihuia Awards for Māori writers 2017 as judged by Whiti Hereaka, Paula Morris, Poia Rewi amd Rawinia Higgins. The book contains the stories from the finalists for Best Short Story written in English, Best Short Story written in te reo Māori and Best Novel Extract categories. This writing competition, held every two years, is organised by the Māori Literature Trust and Huia Publishers as a way to promote Māori writers and their work. The awards and the collection of finalists’ fiction celebrate Māori writing and bring new writers to light.
Tail of the Taniwha. By Courtney Sina Meredith. (NZ/Samoa)
Tail of the Taniwha is Meredith’s first book of short stories and follows her much lauded 2012 collection of poems Brown Girls in Bright Red Lipstick (Beatnik Publishing) and multi-award-winning 2010 play Rushing Dolls (Playmarket, 2012).
Collected Stories. By Patricia Grace. (NZ)
The collected edition of Patricia Grace’s stories brings together all the work contained in her first three books of short stories. One of New Zealand’s most celebrated writers. She has published six novels and seven short story collections, as well as a number of books for children and non-fiction. She won the New Zealand Fiction Award for Potiki in 1987, and was longlisted for the Booker Prize in 2001 with Dogside Story, which also won the Kiriyama Pacific Rim Fiction Prize. Her children’s story The Kuia and the Spider won Children’s Picture Book of the Year. Patricia was born in Wellington and lives in Plimmerton on ancestral land, in close proximity to her home marae at Hongoeka Bay.
Lani says – I first encountered Patricia Grace’s stories in high school here in Samoa. Beautiful and an immediate sense of connection. I highly recommend all her novels and short fiction.
Afakasi Woman. By Lani Wendt Young. (Samoa)
The winner of the 2011 USP Press Prize for Fiction, originally titled, ‘Sleepless in Samoa’. A Collection of Twenty-Four Short Stories from a “Real Samoan Woman.” Sometimes funny, often poignant and always honest – this collection of award-winning short fiction is one woman’s insight into life as a contemporary Pacific woman who is ‘too brown to be white and too white to be brown.’
Stories on the Four Winds: Nga Hau e Wha. Edited by Brian Bargh and Robin Bargh. (NZ)
This collection brings together twenty short stories from eighteen of New Zealand’s accomplished writers. They explore the dark and dangerous milieu of our comfortable existence. There is humour, tenderness, surprise, anger, sorrow and abject desperation in these stories from the four winds. The authors are Patricia Grace, Albert Wendt, Alice Tawhai, Briar Grace-Smith, Paula Morris, Tina Makereti, James George, Renée, Jacqui McRae, Eru Hart, Helen Waaka, Toni Pivac, K-t Harrison, Anya Ngawhare, Ann French, Piripi Evans, Mark Sweet and Terence Rissetto.
Islands linked by Ocean. By Lisa Linn Kanae. (Hawaii)
Stories written with humor and compassion that give voice to characters who find themselves at crossroad moments where past informs present, young teach old, and love can mean holding on or letting go. In “The Steersman,” a novice paddler shares her tempestuous yet life-affirming introduction to the tradition of outrigger canoe paddling: “… in the canoe, we were nameless. We were numbers, and when we weren’t numbers, we were random expletives–scrub, donkey, idiot, stupid, jackass, lame ass, dumb ass….” In “Born Again Hawaiian,” a young husband discovers how the personal impacts the political when his activist wife shows him how he must fight for what he loves most. And what happens when three local women take in the opera? “Dat suckah Pavarotti–he get um.”
Dark Jelly. By Alice Tawhai. (NZ Maori)
This third collection of short stories by Alice Tawhai explores the complex mix of beauty and heartache, resilience and joys of people living in seemingly bleak situations. The perceptions of people and their lives are fresh and poignant, seeing the humanity and quiet hope alongside the darkness. The vivid imagery and intensely evocative writing make each story and those in them hauntingly memorable.
Home(is)lands:New Art and Writing from Guahan and Hawaii. By Ala Press. Edited, Craig Santos Perez, Brandy Nalani McDougall.
Despite the vast distance between Hawaii and Guahan (Guam), these islands and their peoples have experienced similar cultural, historical, ecological, and political struggles. Writers and artists from both places have been engaged in unwriting colonial representations and envisioning decolonial futures. This anthology acts as a cross-current between our home(is)lands, weaving our voices across the New Oceania.
Tongan Heroes. By David Riley. (NZ) YA/Middle grade.
Tongan Heroes presents inspirational stories of achievers who have Tongan ancestry. It includes:legends like Aho’eitu, Hina and Seketoa, historical figures such as Queen Salote Tupou III, Pita Vi and Professor Futa Helu, contemporary heroes like Jonah Lomu, Captain Kamelia Zarka, Filipe Tohi, The Jets, Manu Vatuvei, Dr Viliami Tangi and Valerie Adams
Readers will be inspired as they discover the challenges these figures faced and overcame, to become some of the world’s best in their chosen fields. David Riley, the author of Tongan Heroes, is a high school teacher based in South Auckland, New Zealand. Illustrations by Samoan artist Michel Mulipola help bring the stories to life. This is the third book in a series on Pacific heroes.
We are the Rock. By David Riley, Evotia Tamua and Munro Te Whata.
Young Adult / Teen non-fiction Niuean myths & legends Biographies / Historical biographies (most of the Niueans featured in the book are NZ based) x1 Recipe for a traditional Niuean dish. We hear the stories of contemporary Niueans, as well as historical and legendary figures their struggles, impressions and achievements. They are Niuean taoga (treasures) and include: Tigilau Ness, Dene Halatau, Luisa Avaiki, Che Fu, Dr Vili Nosa, Dave Pakieto, Tutina Pasene, Sully Paea, Stephanie Tauevihi, Pero Cameron, John Pule, Foufou Susana Hukui, Frank Bunce, Dr Karaponi Okesene-Gafa, Dianna Fuemana, Young Vivian, Philip Fuemana, Paul Fuemana, Tyree Tautogia, Sir Robert Rex, Lino Lenisi, Shimpal Lelisi, Fao and Huanaki, Leveimatagi and Leveifualolo
Tales of Niue Nukututaha. By Zora Feilo. (Niue) YA/Middle Grade
These twelve tales from the island of Niue, in both Niuean and English, give traditional Polynesian storytelling a new twist. Zora Feilo explores the ancient artform of barkcloth (hiapo), not seldom made in Niue, tattoo, and the relationship with the ocean and island itself. But, mostly the tales are about the people of Niue – their love, courage, pride and curiosity. Each story is lavishly illustrated by Niuean artist Lange Taufelila. Published by Little Island Press, New Zealand.First Flight. Edited by Maxine Hemi. (NZ) YA/Middle Grade
First Flight. By Maxine Hemi. (NZ) Middle Grade.
This is a collection of short stories for children and young adults about people and events of Ngati Kahungunu, an iwi or Maori tribe of Aotearoa New Zealand. The majority of the stories focus on key events in the life of Ngati Kahungunu chief Nukupewapewa. The other stories in the collection tell about Kahungunu himself, the battle with the wheke (octopus) across the Pacific to Aotearoa, and the dolphin kaitiaki (guardians).
Tales from the Swamp. By Kingi Mckinnon. (NZ) YA/Middle grade
A collection of short stories from Kingi McKinnon; a nostalgic reflection of the life of rural Maori youth in our recent past. Includes humorous stories of sibling rivalry and first love as well as the heart-wrenching Hohepa’s Goodbye and the spine-chilling Mauri of the Swamp – an evocative story of the power of a long-lost taonga. Some of these stories have been published before in School Journals or anthologies, but this is a new collection.
Weaving Earth and Sky:Myths and Legends of Aotearoa. By Robert Sullivan. (NZ Maori)
Retells the classic Maori myths and legends, which range from creation to Maui to Kupe’s arrival in Aotearoa. Robert Sullivan has rewritten them in a very modern, direct, accessible and powerful way. Gavin Bishop’s strong graphic technique and stunning colours help the reader visualise the world of gods, demi-gods and mythic adventure. Together, they have turned stories that many readers know well into dramatic pieces that we see and hear afresh.
Wild Meat and the Bully Burgers. By Lois-Ann Yamanaka. (Hawaii)
Her name is Lovey Nariyoshi, and her Hawai’i is not the one of leis, pineapple, and Magnum P.I. In the blue collar town of Hilo, on the Big Island, Lovey and her eccentric Japanese-American family are at the margins of poverty, in the midst of a tropical paradise. With her endearing, effeminate best friend Jerry, Lovey suffers schoolyard bullies, class warfare, Singer sewing classes, and the surprisingly painful work of picking on a macadamia nut plantation, all while trying to find an identity of her own. At once a bitingly funny satire of haole happiness and a moving meditation on what is real, if ugly at times, but true, Wild Meat and the Bully Burgers crackles with the language of pidgin–Hawai’i Creole English–distinguishing one of the most vibrant voices in contemporary culture.
Vasu:Pacific Women of Power. Edited by Cresantia Frances Koya. (Fiji)
A collection of art, short stories and poetry by women writers in the Pacific. Produced in conjunction with the VASU Pacific Women of Power exhibition presented at the Oceania Centre for Arts and Culture, University of the South Pacific from 24 to 27 September 2008 and at the Fiji Museum through the month of October.
My Walk to Equality:Essays, Stories and Poetry by Papua New Guinea Women. By Rashmi Amoah Bell. (Papua New Guinea)
The anthology celebrates the contribution of women to Papua New Guinean society. It also sets out some of the problems and issues confronting those women in their daily lives. These issues are set out in an eclectic mix of poetry, essays and short stories. Women are active in many fields in Papua New Guinea, occasionally in leadership roles. Papua New Guinean women are doctors and nurses, business leaders, environmental activists, and politicians. Other women in more traditional roles form the backbone of Papua New Guinean society. All of them need to be celebrated. These women are diligently working to advance their country and remedy the wrongs they encounter, even though the task often seems overwhelming. The anthology draws attention to and suggests approaches to the serious challenges Papua New Guinea must address to become the nation it wants to be and which its people need.
The Fethafoot Chronicles. By Pemulwuy Weeutunga. (Australia)
Always wanted to know more about Aboriginal Australia? Come on a journey through time with warriors of the enigmatic Fethafoot Clan. For 50,000 years my clan have solved problems for the Australian Heart-rock people. Now for the first time in our history, you too can explore our stories. My Clan’s name and its mysteries have always been kept out of public knowledge and history, in my home of Australia. It’s the way the Clan work. To do what they do, secrecy is a prerequisite to safeguard the work and people. For the first time in our long, oral history, we have a means to reveal the long and intriguing history of our covert Clan to other Australians, to the many new people’s who now call this majestic land home: and to the modern world at large. If you were born in Australia, you may have even heard such stories told around campfires and family meals, about the Australian Aboriginal magic man – or Kadaicha, as our people named our Clan many years ago. We call ourselves: the Fethafoot.
After the Carnage. By Tara June Winch. (Australia)
A single mother resorts to extreme measures to protect her young son. A Nigerian student undertakes a United Nations internship in the hope of a better future. A recently divorced man starts a running group with members of an online forum for recovering addicts. Ranging from New York to Istanbul, from Pakistan to Australia, these unforgettable stories chart the distances in their characters’ lives – whether they have grown apart from the ones they love, been displaced from their homeland, or are struggling to reconcile their dreams with reality. A collection of prodigious depth and variety, After the Carnage marks the remarkable evolution of one of our finest young writers.
Songs that sound like Blood. By Jared Thomas. (Australia) YA
Roxy May Redding’s got music in her soul and songs in her blood. She lives in a hot dusty town and is dreaming big. She survives run-ins with the mean girls at high school, sings in her dad’s band and babysits for her wayward aunt. But Roxy wants a new start. When she gets the chance to study music in the big city, she takes it. Roxy’s new life, her new friends and her music collide in a way she could never have imagined. Being a poor student sucks… navigating her way through the pressure of a national music competition has knobs on it… singing for her dinner is soul destroying… but nothing prepares Roxy for her biggest challenge. Her crush on Ana, the local music journo, forces her to steer her way through a complex maze of emotions alien to this small town girl. Family and friends watch closely as Roxy takes a confronting journey to find out who the hell she is.
Mauri Ola. Edited by Albert Wendt, Reina Whaitiri, Robert Sullivan.
Mauri Ola: Contemporary Polynesian Poems in English, is a follow-up volume to the highly acclaimed Whetu Moana, the first anthropology of Polynesian poems in English edited by Polynesians. The new book includes poetry written over the last twenty-five years by more than eighty writers from Aotearoa, Hawai‘i, Tonga, Samoa, the Cook Islands, Niue, Tokelau, Tahiti, and Rotuma.
Lani says – A great resource for teachers looking for a good range of Pasifika poetry to use in the classroom.
Songs of Love. By Konai Helu Thaman. (Tonga)
We studied Konai’s poems in school and Im so thankful that her lyrical, gorgeous poetry was our teacher’s choice. Poems written from and about Oceania. Konai Helu Thamans other collections of poetry are: You, the Choice of My Parents (Mana Publications, 1974), Langakali (Mana Publications, 1981), Inselfeuer (Reihe Literatur des Pazifik, 1986), Hingano (Mana Publications, 1987) and Kakala (Mana Publications, 1993). Her essays on education, culture, identity and other topics have appeared in books and journals.
Iep Jaltok: Poems from a Marshallese Daughter. (Sun tracks)
The first published book of poetry by a Marshallese author. Poet and activist Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner’s writing highlights the traumas of colonialism, racism, forced migration, the legacy of American nuclear testing, and the impending threats of climate change. Bearing witness at the front lines of various activist movements inspires her work and has propelled her poetry onto international stages, where she has performed in front of audiences ranging from elementary school students to world leaders at the United Nations Climate Summit.
Lani says – I cannot fangirl this poet activist enough. Look for performances of her work online and show them to your students. She is inspiring and her work lights fires in youth everywhere.
Fast Talking P.I By Selina Tusitala Marsh. (NZ/Samoa/Tuvalu)
Fast Talking PI is the first ‘singular, confident and musical’ collection of poetry by Selina Tusitala Marsh. ‘Tusitala’ means writer of tales in Samoan, and Marsh here lives up to her name with stories of her life, her family, community, ancestry, and history. Her poetry is sensuous and strong, using lush imagery, clear rhythms and repetitions to power it forward. The list poem is a favourite style, but she also writes with a Pacific lyricism entirely her own. Fast Talking PI is structured in three sections, ‘Tusitala (personal), ‘Talkback’ (political and historical) and ‘Fast Talking PI’ (already a classic).
Teachers, definitely check out Selina’s Fast Talking P.I. It’s cool, fun, and fabulous, and Pasifika youth connect with it really well.
passages in between i(s)lands. By Audrey Brown-Pereira. (Samoa/Cook Islands/NZ)
A collection of poetry and storytelling that is eclectic and vast in mood and tempo by a leading voice in Pacific Literature, Audrey Brown-Pereira. Navigating between Samoa, the Cook Islands, Aotearoa/New Zealand and the U.S., these poems reflect on the politics of family and identity in a rapidly changing Pacific. Brown-Pereira is a self-confessed “word player” where all elements of text are painted to create colour and volume. passages in between i(s)lands is the much anticipated follow-up to Brown-Pereira’s threads of tivaevae: kaleidoscope of kolours published in 2002. Lani says – I’m not usually a great poetry reader/listener, but I could listen all day to Audrey read her pieces. She’s brilliant and I love trying to decode all the hints of Samoa familiar places and people in her poetry!
My Urohs. By Emelihter Kileng. (Pohnpei, Micronesia)
The first collection of poetry by a Pohnpeian poet, Emelihter Kihleng’s My Urohs is described by distinguished Samoan writer and artist Albert Wendt as “refreshingly innovative and compelling, a new way of seeing ourselves in our islands, an important and influential addition to our [Pacific] literature.”
Lani says – I loved listening to Emelihter share her poems and the gorgeous urohs/traditional Pohnpeian skirts that inspired the name of the title.
Afakasi Speaks. By Grace Taylor. (NZ/Samoa)
This first collection of poetry by award-winning Spoken Word artist, Grace Teuila Evelyn Taylor, marks her debut as a poet who can also move audiences with the written word. Afakasi Speaks explores the complexities of Afakasi identity, of those that, as Taylor puts it, “taste the bitter sweetness of the space between brown and white,” identifying as Samoan and English. These brave poems give voice to the power of family and language even as they reveal painful colonial legacies.
Dream Fish Floating. By Karlo Mila. (NZ/Tonga)
A refreshing and welcome addition to the growing list of women’s writing in Oceania. Karlo Milo draws wisdom and compassion from her ancestral cultures but is not constrained by them. Honest and unafraid, she has spread her net wide in order to capture the many concerns that many people are grappling with as they face the realities of a globalised and impersonal world. Written with passion, persistence and sensitivity, her poems are insightful, challenging and sometimes provocative.
Photographs. By Albert Wendt. (Samoa)
In Albert Wendt’s first collection for over a decade, snapshots of the close and familiar contrast with strange and mythical sequences from a vast Pacific epic in progress and a vivid impressionistic montage of global travel in the late twentieth century. The rich diversity and range of Photographs is astonishing, as this complex writer moves with ease and fluency from ancient Polynesia to contemporary China to family celebrations in an Auckland garden, and through a variety of tones and voices. The collection celebrates grandchildren, family, ancestors and a heritage that stretches back to the atua; and shows a profound and compassionate understanding of the ways we now live in these islands.
Tales, Poems and Songs from the Underwater World. By Daren Kamali. (NZ/Fiji)
A bilingual poetry collection of English and Fijian writing and performance from the last decade. Tales, Poems and Songs from the Underwater World fuses sea creatures, myths and themes from around the Pacific. It combines three main elements: written word, visual (paintings and illustrations) and audio (spoken word/songs), using innovative ideas to communicate its message.
from unincorporated territory [lukao]. By Craig Santos Peres. (Guam)
The fourth book in native Chamorro poet Craig Santos Perez’s ongoing series about his homeland, the Western Pacific Island of Guåhan (Guam), and his current home, Hawai i. He utilizes eco-poetic, decolonial, diasporic, indigenous, documentary, epic, and avant-garde modes to weave stories of creation, birth, migration, food sovereignty, and parenting. This work not only protests the devastating impacts of colonialism, militarism, and environmental injustice across the Pacific, it also expresses a vision of a sustainable and hopeful future.
Festival of Miracles. By Alice Tawhai. (NZ)
This is a fabulous collection of stories from a young and new Maori writer. She finds cosmopolitan material for her stories from the length and breadth of New Zealand. Her words are gem-like observations of lives on the edge, and her characters are rich and varied: bikies, UFO enthusiasts, circus workers, tattoo artists, mail-order brides. To read Alice Tawhai’s works is to see the occasional despair and the often-uplifting poetry of many lives, and many readers will be wiser for the experience.
Fale Aitu. Spirit House. By Tusiata Avia. (NZ/Samoa)
Tusiata Avia is an essential voice in New Zealand and Pasifika literature. In her fearless new collection, she weaves together the voices of the living and dead, the past and the present in poems that are confessional and confrontational, gentle and funny. Speaking from Samoa, Christchurch, Gaza and New York, she combines stories from myth and the everyday, never shying away from pain or wonder.
The Light and Dark in our Stuff. By Mere Taito. (Rotuma, Fiji)
From the absurdity of airlifting gourmet cake into a poverty-stricken jungle to the fantasy of coaxing the clear blue sky to grab your ankles and swing you like a pendulum, Mere Taito’s illustrated chapbook of poetry pulls you through dark matter and then light. Inspired by her 8-year-old nephew’s observation that poetry books are boring because ‘there are no pictures’, this chapbook is highly visual.
The Art of Excavation. By Leilani Tamu. (Samoa/NZ)
Delves into the complex and multifaceted nature of the region that we know as the Pacific. In poetry that is by turns fierce and political, tender and insightful, contemplative and intimate, Leilani creates a beautiful ‘ie tōga (woven mat) that weaves together living memory in a way that also acknowledges and places the past at the centre of the narrative. Challenging the popular orthodox approach of ‘digging up’ the past, Leilani reclaims the process of excavation as a creative metaphor for reframing and retelling Pacific stories from her own perspective, as a Pacific woman. This book is a vibrant and challenging offering from a young Pacific writer who is also a mother, historian, former New Zealand diplomat and columnist.
A Bell made of Stones. By Lehua M. Taitano. (Guam)
With the typewriter as her canoe, Taitano chants homeward ‘for the flightless, to stretch roots, for the husk of things set adrift.’ Lehua Taitano’s unforgettable poetry joins a new wave of Chamorro and Pacific literature. In A BELL MADE OF STONES, she bravely navigates the currents of mixed-race indigenous identity, transoceanic migration, and queer sexuality through a series of experimental (and lyrical) typographic poems. With the typewriter as her canoe, Taitano chants homeward ‘for the flightless, to stretch roots, for the husk of things set adrift.’
Black Stone. By Grace Mera Molisa. (Vanuatu)
Molisa was a poet, publisher, and political figure in Vanuatu. She earned her BA from the University of the South Pacific—the first ni-Vanuatu woman awarded a university degree. She was a spokeswoman for Prime Minister Walter Lini from 1987 to 1991. Molisa was integral to the women’s movement in Vanuatu and well known throughout the Pacific as an activist for feminist, environmental, and cultural causes. She was a founding member of Transparency International and Vanuatu’s National Arts Festival, was involved in the Vanuatu Association of Women Graduates, and published the voices of indigenous Pacific women through her press, Blackstone Publishing. She was described as one of the Pacific’s “leading public intellectuals and activists”.
Blue Rain. By Ruperake Petaia. (Samoa)
His first poetry collection. A Samoan classic and essential reading. Every Pasifika person, actually every indigenous person needs to read his poem KIDNAPPED in this collection. Im thankful for my english teachers a very long time ago who gave us Rev.Petaia’s poems to read. Decolonising our minds (without us even realising it at the time lol)
Alchemies of Distance. By Caroline Sinavaiana-Gabbard. (Samoa)
Poetry. Essay. Asian American Studies. “Sinavaiana-Gabbard draws her imaginative strength and mana from the fertile depths of her Samoan people’s mythologies, past, and wisdom, as well as from the cultural soil of North American and Tibetan Buddhism. Her voice is a new blend of Samoan, American, and widely ranging poetic and philosophical languages. A unique, vibrant, undeniable voice which shapes the now fearlessly, with profound understanding and forgiveness”–Albert Wendt, University of Auckland. Published by Subpress/Tinfish/Institute of Pacific Studies.
Other writers that I can’t find links to their works online: Momoe Malietoa Von Reiche, Emma Kruse Vaai, Sina Vaai, Tate Simi, Eti Saaga, Misa Telefoni Retzlaff, Teresia Teaiwa, Noumea Simi.
Rāwāhi. By Briar Wood. (NZ Maori)
In Rāwāhi (meaning ‘overseas’), poet Briar Wood weaves lyrical seascapes revealing people and places inspired by her home in New Zealand, her travels and time living overseas. Rāwāhi journeys from Aoteaora New Zealand to London, Europe and back again. Briar Wood (Ngāpuhi) grew up in South Auckland. She lived and worked as a lecturer in Britain until 2012, where she published poetry, fiction and essays. She is now based in Northland, NZ.
Lucky Punch. By Simone Kaho. (Tonga/NZ)
A love story set in tiny natural worlds sheltering from the encroaching urban dystopia of 1980s Auckland. In lyrical prose poetry, the author draws you into a beguiling world where wildness prowls the neighbourhood.
Simone Kaho is a New Zealand poet with Tongan ancestry, part of a new generation of Pasifika voices. She lives in Auckland.
Night Swimming. By Kiri Piahana-Wong. (NZ Maori)
Te Moana-nui-a-Kiwa / the mighty Pacific Ocean pervades Night Swimming — whether swimming or sailing, surfing or drifting, or just quietly contemplating, the author is never far from its shores. These are lyrical poems of aroha and whanau, loss and yearning, renewal and erasure — the tide going out, the tide coming in.
Kiri Piahana-Wong is a New Zealander of Māori (Ngāti Ranginui), Chinese and Pākehā (English) ancestry. She is a poet, editor and publisher. Night Swimming is her first collection.
Entangled Islands. By Serie Barford. (NZ Samoa)
In this new collection of poetry and short stories, beloved Pacific writer Serie Barford reflects on the entangled history of New Zealand and the Pacific Islands. Here peoples and cultures meet and intertwine in a medley of memories, imagination and genealogy. Entangled Islands invites the reader to enter a lyrical, vividly drawn world. Serie Barford was born in New Zealand to a German-Samoan mother and a Pālagi father and grew up in West Auckland. She has published three previous collections of poetry.
Between the Kindling and the Blaze. By Ben Brown. (NZ Maori)
A collection of poetry and short prose pieces exploring the concept of mana. Completed on the Michael King Writer’s Centre Māori Writer’s Residency 2011.
Ben Brown (Ngāti Paoa, Ngāti Mahuta) is a writer, poet, performer and award-winning children’s book author. He lives in Lyttleton.
The Conch Trumpet. By David Eggleton. (Rotuma Fiji/NZ)
Calling to the scattered tribes of contemporary New Zealand, The Conch Trumpet sounds the signal to listen close, critically, and “in alert reverie.” David Eggleton’s reach of references, the marriage of high and low, the grasp of popular and classical allusion, his eye both for cultural trash and epiphanic beauty, make it seem as if here Shakespeare shakes down in the Pacific. There are dazzling compressions of history; astonishing paens to harbours, mountains, lakes, and rivers; wrenchingly dark, satirical critiques of contemporary politics, solipsism, narcissism, the apolitical, and the corporate, with a teeming vocabulary to match. And often too a sense of the imperative, grounding reality of the phenomenal world—the thisness of things: cloud whispers brush daylight’s ear, fern question marks form a bush encore, forlorn heat swings cobbed in webs. In this latest collection, David Eggleton is court jester, philosopher, lyricist, and a kind of male Cassandra, roving warningly from primeval swampland to gritty cityscape to the information and disinformation cybercloud.
Atonement. By Vaughan Rapatahana. (NZ Maori)
An anthology of 57 poems in English, documenting the poet’s emotions and imagination about Hong Kong. Rapatahana is a New Zealand Maori who is a long-term resident of Hong Kong with homes also in Philippines and Aotearoa-New Zealand. He has been published internationally across several genres, including fiction, language critique, poetry, philosophy and was both a semi-finalist in the inaugural Proverse Prize for Literature and highly placed in the 2013 erbacce poetry prize. Atonement is his fourth collection of poems. Vaughan also reviews for the Asian Review of Books.
Coconut Milk. By Dan Taulapapa McMullin. (Samoa)
A fresh, new poetry collection that is a sensual homage to place, people, love, and lust. The first collection by Samoan writer and painter Dan Taulapapa McMullin, the poems evoke both intimate conversations and provocative monologues that allow him to explore the complexities of being a queer Samoan in the United States. McMullin’s Fa’a Fafine identity—the ability to walk between and embody both the masculine and feminine—creates a grounded and dynamic voice throughout the collection. It also fosters a creative dialogue between Fa’a Fafine people and trans-Indigenous movements. Through a uniquely Samoan practice of storytelling, McMullin contributes to the growing and vibrant body of queer Indigenous literature.
Sista Tongue. By Lisa Linn Kanae. (Hawaii)
“Kanae’s first book, SISTA TONGUE, is about her first love: language. It’s a brief social history of Pidgin English in Hawaii intertwined with a personal story about a little brother who was a late talker and was stigmatized for it. Within its pages, Kanae has created what she calls a collage of poetry and prose, layered and patchworked in a way as to entice-and require-the reader’s careful attention, especially as presented by graphic designer Kristin Kaelinani Gonzales”-Wanda A. Adams, Gannett News Service. Kanae’s work can be found in BAMBOO RIDGE, HYBOLICS, and TINFISH. She is currently an English lecturer at Kapiolani Community College and serves as an editorial assistant for OIWI: A NATIVE HAWAIIAN JOURNAL.
The Salt Wind. By Brandy Nalani McDougall. (Hawaii)
This postcolonial collection of poetry is the first by Native Hawaiian poet, Brandy Nalani McDougall. Of the collection, Samoan novelist Albert Wendt writes: “Once in a while a collection of poetry comes along and grabs your eyes, heart, and na’au and makes you see and feel more deeply than you’ve done in a long, long time. For me, Brandy Nalani
McDougall’s collection is one of those. And I keep rereading it. Her poems have a unique and hugely inviting surface simplicity and elegance that immediately hook you into them, into their profound and complex depths of imagery, lyricism, political and historical savvy, feeling, thought and vision. These are woven together with unusual wisdom, perception, control of language, and intense aloha for her people and islands. You have to read this collection. It will lift you and make you feel you are more.”
Lemons in the Chicken Wire. By Alison Whittaker. (Australia)
From a remarkable new voice in Indigenous writing comes this highly original collection of poems bristling with stunning imagery and gritty textures. At times sensual, always potent, Lemons in the Chicken Wire delivers a collage of work that reflects rural identity through a rich medley of techniques and forms. It is an audacious, lyrical and linguistically lemon flavoured poetry debut that possesses a rare edginess and seeks to challenge our imagination beyond the ordinary. Alison Whittaker demonstrates that borders, whether physical or imagined, are no match for our capacity for love.
Westlake. By Wayne Kaumualii Westlake. (Hawaii)
In an all-too-brief life and literary career, Wayne Kaumualii Westlake (1947–1984) produced a substantial body of poetry. He broke new ground as a poet, translated Taoist classical literature and Japanese haiku, interwove perspectives from his Hawaiian heritage into his writing and art, and published his work locally, regionally, and internationally. Westlake was born on Maui and raised on the island of O‘ahu, where he attended Punahou School, and later the University of Oregon. He earned his B.A. in Chinese studies at the University of Hawai‘i. At the time of his tragic death in 1984, Westlake was at the height of his poetic career. Unfortunately, the only collection of his poems available at the time was a 32-page, limited edition chapbook independently published by a small press. The present volume, long overdue, includes nearly two hundred of Westlake’s poems―most unavailable to the public or never before published.
Other writers that I can’t find links to their works online: Momoe Malietoa Von Reiche, Emma Kruse Vaai, Sina Vaai, Tate Simi, Eti Saaga, Misa Telefoni Retzlaff, Teresia Teaiwa, Noumea Simi.
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