What I’m reading Dahlia Malaeulu
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All Pacific history and cultural books fascinate me, especially since we have had very little for so long. This is why a lot of my most recent reads have been around researching for Mila’s Books titles we will be publishing this year. I really enjoyed Tautai: Sa˜moa, World History and the life of Ta’isi O F Nelson by Patricia O’Brien. Learning about Nelson and Sir Ma¯ui Po¯mare’s close friendship and mutual support for their journeys of indigenous sovereignty was an eye-opener. The book’s insight reinforced the need for all our tamaiti and New Zealanders to learn about Sa¯moa’s challenging journey to independence. Other memorable books I’ve unexpectedly fallen 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 relatable to lived experiences as Pasifika that they feel like home. This is the same feeling I got when I first read Va¯: Stories by Women 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 its own right. Just the mix of experienced and traditionally published authors and first time or emerging Polynesian authors in one space is 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 Grandpa shares the story of a family Siapo (Samoan bark cloth) with his grandchildren and readers learn about the elements which represent Sa¯moa’s independence. This year we celebrate 60 years of Samoan Independence and Grandpa’s Siapo is the first picture book in the world that tells the story of our Samoan history.