Albert Wendt

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Albert Wendt ONZ CNZM (born 1939) is a Samoan poet and writer who also lives in New Zealand. Among his works is Leaves of the Banyan Tree (1979).


Albert Wendt was born in Apia, Samoa. Wendt is of German heritage through his great-grandfather from his patrilineal ancestry, which he reflected it in some of his poetry works.[fn 1][2] He studied at Ardmore Teacher's College and at the Victoria University of Wellington, graduating with an M.A. in History. His Master's thesis was about the Mau, Sāmoa's independence movement from colonialism during the early 1900s (decade). His thesis was entitled Guardians and Wards: A study of the origins, causes and the first two years of the Mau in Western Sāmoa.[3]

He returned in 1965 to Western Samoa, becoming headmaster of Samoa College. In 1974 he moved to Fiji, where he taught at the University of the South Pacific.

In 1977 Wendt returned home to set up the University of the South Pacific Center in Sāmoa. He worked closely with the literary journal Mana, and edited in 1975 collections of poems from Fiji, Western Samoa, the New Hebrides (now Vanuatu), and the Solomon Islands.

Wendt's epic Leaves of the Banyan Tree (1979) won the 1980 New Zealand Book Awards. He was appointed to the first chair in Pacific literature at the University of the South Pacific in Suva. In 1988 he took up a professorship of Pacific studies at the University of Auckland. In 1999 Wendt was visiting Professor of Asian and Pacific Studies at the University of Hawaii. In 2001 he was made Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his services to literature. In the 2013 Queen's Birthday Honours he was appointed a member of the Order of New Zealand.[4]


Wendt is the subject of a documentary, The New Oceania, made in New Zealand by Point of View Productions. Directed by Shirley Horrocks, the film screened at the New Zealand International Film Festival and Hawaii International Film Festival in 2005, TVNZ 2006 and ABC Australia in 2007.[5]

Awards and honours[edit]

Works in film[edit]

  • Sons for the Return Home - 1979[7]
  • Flying Fox in a Freedom Tree - 1989[8]


  1. ^ Interview with Albert Wendt: 1, Brandy Nālani McDougall, 12 August 2002
  2. ^ Patke (2006), p. 161.
  3. ^ "Guardians and Wards". New Zealand Electronic Text Centre. Retrieved 16 November 2009. 
  4. ^ Queen's Birthday Honours List 2013. Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Retrieved 3 June 2013.
  5. ^ The New Oceania: Albert Wendt, writer Point of View Productions.
  6. ^ "Previous winners". Creative New Zealand. Retrieved October 24, 2013. 
  7. ^ Imdb Sons for the Return Home
  8. ^ Imdb Flying Fox in a Freedom Tree



  • Patke, Rajiv Shridkar, Postcolonial Poetry in English: Oxford studies in Postcolonial Literatures in English, Oxford University Press, 2006, ISBN 0-19-929888-2


  1. ^ In a 2002 interview,[1] Wendt described his family heritage as "totally Samoan" even though he had a German surname, but did not explicitly deny his German heritage. In a poem, "Inside Us the Dead", he does make a reference to his German ancestry. Ocean of Time

External links[edit]