Emeritus Professor Albert Wendt Appointed to the Order of New Zealand

Albert Wendt (āiga Sa-Tuaopepe of Lefaga and āiga Sa-Patu of Vaiala), Emeritus Professor of English at The University of Auckland and acclaimed writer, painter and poet, has been made a member of the Order of New Zealand in this year's Queen's Birthday Honours List.

The Order of New Zealand is the country's highest honour. Only 20 people can be members of the order at any one time.

The 73-year-old said this latest award is for his family.

'The honour is really for them. They are the ones that really got me where I am now because if you don't have the support of your family and friends, you can continue to write, but who is it for?'

In 1988 he took up a professorship of New Zealand Literature in the English Department at The University of Auckland, becoming one of the first Samoan and Pacific Island professors in New Zealand.

In November 2012 he was awarded New Zealand's highest literary award – the 2012 Prime Minister's Award for Literary Achievement for Fiction at Premier House in Wellington.

Albert first came to New Zealand from Samoa on government scholarship in 1952 and studied at New Plymouth Boys High.

'Without that scholarship I don't know where I would be now. I came from a very modest and poor family. My parents really believed that education was a way out of that.'

'I never dreamt that I would be here now.'

After graduating with his masters degree from Victoria University, Albert returned home to Samoa in 1965 to teach at Samoa College before becoming principal in 1969.

In 1974 he moved to Suva and became a lecturer at the University of the South Pacific.

Albert has written several novels, collections of short stories and poetry. Two of his books, Sons for the Return Home and Flying Fox in a Freedom Tree “ have both been made into feature films. Leaves of the Banyan Tree, his third novel, won the prestigious New Zealand Wattie Book of the Year Award in 1980.

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