What I read: Dahlia Malaeulu

The mix of experienced and emerging Polynesian authors gives Dahlia Malaeulu hope for the future of Pasifika <a class=literature.” style=”width:100%;display:inline-block”/>

MONIQUE FORD/Stuff

The mix of experienced and emerging Polynesian authors gives Dahlia Malaeulu hope for the future of Pasifika literature.

Dahlia Malaeulu is an award-winning author, freelance publisher and creator of Mila’s Books – Pasifika children’s books that help tamaiti be seen, heard and valued as a Pasifika.

All the books of Pacific history and culture fascinate me, especially since we have had very few of them for so long. That’s why a lot of my most recent reading has been researching Mila’s Books titles that we’ll be publishing this year.

I really enjoyed, Tautai: Samoa, the History of the World and the Life of Ta’isi OF Nelson by Patricia O’Brien. Learning about the close friendship and mutual support of Ta’isi Olaf Nelson and Sir Māui Pōmare on their native sovereignty journeys was an eye opener.

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The detail and insight provided by the book really reinforced the need for all of our Tamaiti and New Zealanders to know more about Samoa’s difficult journey to independence.

Other memorable books that I unexpectedly fell in love with this year are Bloody Woman by Lana Lopesi and Beats of the Pa’u by Maria Samuela. The storytelling styles are so connected to lived experiences like Pasifika that they feel right at home.

It’s the same feeling I had when I first read one of my new favorites – Vā: Stories from Woman of the Moana edited by Lani Wendt Young and Sisilia Eteuati. I regularly visit the stories in this anthology because I love the power each one has in itself, representing parts of undiscovered Polynesia in terms of literature. The simple mix of experienced and traditionally published authors and new and emerging Polynesian authors in one space is refreshing, exciting and gives me hope for the future of Pasifika literature.

The last book I read was a very special children’s picture book that I wrote and published with Mila’s Books called, Grandpa’s Siapo. A Samoan grandfather shares the story of a Siapo (Samoan barkcloth) family with his grandchildren and as the story unfolds readers learn about the various elements of the special Siapo which represent Samoa’s difficult journey to independence.

This year we are celebrating 60 years of Samoan independence and what makes Grandfather’s Siapo unique is that it is the world’s first picture book that tells the story of our Samoan history.

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