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The Best Samoan Themed Books To Read On Holiday

Being on holiday is the perfect time to get in some relaxing reading time.

There are those who like to spend their precious, hard-won time on a tropical island beach just watching the waves, the clouds, the stunning natural beauty and, in all reality, the kids.

But if you can tear your eyes away long enough, there are few things better than grabbing that long-awaited holiday book, or kindle, to while away a beautiful afternoon or a long, warm evening.

It’s even better when that reading is themed towards the place where you’re staying, for a whole new perspective without even leaving your deck chair.

Here are our suggestions of great reads by Samoan authors, or with Samoan themes, to enjoy during your Samoan stay - starting with non-fiction and moving through to fiction and poetry, finishing with easy holiday reading.

Tatau: A Cultural History of Samoan Tattooing

Sean Mallon and Sébastien Galliot

An extraordinary, scholarly and richly illustrated work that traces Samoan tattooing from its pre-European beginnings and ponders the contemporary state of the ancient art.


Polynesian Panthers

Edited by Dr Melani Anae, Leilani Tamu, Lautofa Luli 

Polynesian Panthers records the Pacific rights and social activist movement in New Zealand, told by those who were there. Forming in 1971, the Polynesian Panther Party sought to raise consciousness and took action in response to the racism and discrimination Pacific peoples faced in New Zealand in the 1970s and 1980s.


Tamaitai Samoa: Their Stories

Edited by Peggy Fairbairn-Dunlop

“Although it has been long overdue, yet how opportune it is for these stories of our women to be written as we draw nigh to the close of the twentieth century.

“Each of these stories unfolds like the blending and distinctiveness of the motif and decorative patterns of a siapo.”


Where We Once Belonged

Sia Figiel

Thirteen-year-old Alofa Filiga struggles to come to terms with womanhood, her search for identity, and the restrictions of life in her Samoan village.


The Scarlet Series

Lani Wendt Young

More than ‘just a romance’, the first of the three books, Scarlet Lies, is a poignant story about the tangled connections between mothers, daughters and sisters. It speaks with compelling insight and humour of inherited trauma, desire and deception, and the power and stubbornness of love.

The second book, Scarlet Secrets is followed by the thrilling conclusion to the saga, Scarlet Redemption.

Another great and entertaining read is Lani’s blog, Sleepless in Samoa.


Breaking Connections

Albert Wendt

A dynamic group has emerged in Auckland whose members refer to themselves as the Tribe. Mainly Polynesian, they grow up together, rise from poverty and become successful professionals, bound by love and fierce loyalty.

Discover more by Albert Wendt...



Sia Fiegiel

It is 1985 in Nu‘uolemanusa/Village of the Sacred Owl, Western Samoa. Madonna’s Like a Virgin rules the airwaves.

Brilliant and inquisitive high school student and Star Trek fanatic, 17 ½ year old Inosia Alofafua Afatasi, is sent by her mother to the capital, Apia, to buy three giant white threads. While she waits at the bus stop, Mr. Ioane Viliamu, her teacher of Science and Mathematics and recent graduate of the University of Papua New Guinea and the pastor’s eldest son, in turn, her spiritual brother, stops to offer her a ride in his red pick-up truck.

Should she wait for the bus? Or should she accept the ride?


Fale Aitu | Spirit House

Tusiata Avia

Tusiata Avia is an essential voice in New Zealand and Pasifika literature and poetry. Speaking from Samoa, Christchurch, Gaza and New York, she combines stories from myth and the everyday, never shying away from pain or wonder.


Wild Dogs Under My Skirt

Tusiata Avia

This vivacious collection of poetry charts the author's experience with the sometimes painful intersection of New Zealand and Samoan cultures in her life.



Selina Tusitala Marsh

Built around the abyss, the tightrope, and the trick that we all have to perform to walk across it, Pasifika poetry warrior - and Poet Laureate in New Zealand 2017-2019 - Selina Tusitala Marsh brings to life in Tightrope her ongoing dialogue with memory, life and death to find out whether ‘stories’ really can ‘cure the incurable’.


One Hundred Days In Samoa: Another Day In Paradise?

Andy Southall

“We were all set for paradise. But was paradise what we thought?”

One Hundred Days in Samoa is the story of how Andy Southall, an expat Englishman who lives in New Zealand, and his wife Kate move to Samoa and return enriched by their experience.


Fanene Peter Maivia - Son of Samoa

Written by David Riley, illustrated by Michel Mulipola

Son of Samoa tells the incredible story of the first Polynesian wrestling star. From the island of Samoa, Maivia inspired some of the world's greatest pro wresters, including his grandson, Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson.


Dawn Raid (My New Zealand Story)

Pauline (Vaeluaga) Smith

Through diary entries, learn about the Dawn Raids of the 1970s and the tireless work of the Polynesian Panthers from main character, 13-year-old Sofia. This book is designed to inform young people of these historic events in an accessible way.


Samoan Heroes

David Riley, illustrated by Michel Mulipola

The award winning Samoan Heroes tells the inspirational stories of achievers who have Samoan ancestry. It includes legends like Sina and Tigilau; historical figures such as Tupua Tamasese Lealofi III and Salamasina; and contemporary heroes like Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson.


Robert Louis Stevenson

If you have arrived in Samoa and don’t know about Scottish author and poet Robert Louis Stevenson then, don’t worry, you’ll know very soon.

Stevenson is the much-celebrated former resident of Apia, who is best known for his novels Treasure Island, Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and A Child's Garden of Verses. 

Stevenson arrived from his home country following years of travelling to other countries, during which time he had already penned a number of published books. He only lived in Apia for a few years before dying in his 40s, but his memory lives on in Samoa, which adopted him like a son.

Visit the Robert Louis Stevenson Museum in Apia to learn more about the author, his life in Samoa, and be sure to get your hands on one or more of his books.