Book Recommendations: Happy Asian Pacific Heritage Month! Books By Maori and Pasifika Authors

varian - pasifika

It’s been two weeks since Varian showed you their cross-stitching, and you’re back at the Pond today to see what books (and costume!) Varian is going to show you today.

You approach their spot in the Pond, but they don’t look like they are there. You crane your neck, looking around, when you hear —

“Hello friend!”

You jump, startled! Varian was standing by a flower bush of red flowers, and they blended right in! Varian is wearing a dress, with red flowers sewn onto its ruff collar!

Varian the toad wearing a green leafy dress, with red flowers. Holding a flag with the words #APAHM on the flag.Seeing you jump, they chuckle. “I’m sorry to have scared you, friend. I wanted to surprise you – really surprise you! – with my new costume. I suppose I am getting better because I blended in with Gen’s flowers.” They pull at the collar slightly, and adjust the red flower so it sits up right. “But I really wanted to make a costume befitting for the books I want to share with you today!”

Oh yes! The books! You were so bedazzled by Varian’s dress you completely forgot. Now you are definitely excited to hear about the books they have to share with you today.

Hello friends, and welcome back to the Pond! 💛

Welcome to another one of Varian’s recommendation posts. In case you’re new to the Pond’s recommendation posts, the recommendation posts are brought to you by Varian, the Pond’s very own Toadshifter who is knowledgeable in all kinds of magic! One of Varian’s ambitions is to get better at sewing, hence why whenever Varian has shown you their latest costume, they will always recommend a book that inspired that costume.

Today’s recommendation post was inspired by Asian-Pacific Heritage Month, which takes place during the month of May. Over the course of my time as a book blogger, May has always been a month I looked forward to, because it was a great opportunity for me to discover some new books to read!

However, I have noticed, year after year, that a lot of attention is devoted to Asian identities and not enough attention dedicated to Pacific identities. I think we could do a lot more to boost books by Pasifika authors, because they deserve all the hype and attention – just as much as Asian authors! This year, I wanted to do my part to boost Pasifika authors and voices, because they are a part of this month as well and there needs to be more action to ensure that they feel -included.

So today, Varian and I will be sharing with you all some books by Pasifika authors about Pasifika characters! Most of the stories are rooted in New Zealand, where I am from and where we have a strong and vibrant Maori and Pasifika community. I definitely will endeavour to read some books by Pasifika authors this month as well, and I hope that you will decide to join me and pick up a book or two (or three!) from our list today. 😊


DAWN RAID

Text: Dawn Raid, Pauline (Vaeluaga) Smith.

I came across this book during my search for Pasifika books and came across this gem! I’m definitely going to pick this up during May – this sounds like an absolute must-read.

  • Set in New Zealand, follows Sofia during the 1970’s and how she navigates life during the dawn raids conducted by the New Zealand government.
  • This is a historical fiction, and is based on real events!
  • It also explores the work that the Polynesian Panthers Party did to empower and advocate immigrants.

Find Dawn Raid on Goodreads.


THE WHALE RIDER

varian - whalerider.png

When I was a kid, The Whale Rider was regarded as a national treasure – and it still is. I really need to rewatch the movie one day (I was too young to understand it when I first watched it), and read the book as well.

  • Follows Kahu, a young Maori girl and descendant of Kahutia Te Rangi, the legendary ‘whale rider.’
  • The story is about Kahu, who tries to prove herself as the rightful heir to the tribe, despite her grandfather’s, the chieftain’s, rejection of her right — because she is a girl.
  • The Whale Rider is a retelling of Maori mythology, and also centers around family!

Find The Whale Rider on Goodreads.


BLACK MARKS ON THE WHITE PAGE

TExt: Black marks on the white page, Witi Ihimaera & Tina Makereti

This is a book I am definitely going to be reading this year, especially since I love anthologies about mythology.

  • This is an anthology of works by Maori and Pasifika authors, as well as the inclusion of an Aboriginal Australian writer.
  • “Stones move, whale bones rise out of the ground like cities, a man figures out how to raise seven daughters alone,” which sounds absolutely brilliant.
  • The anthology is edited by Witi Ihimaera, who is also the author of The Whale Rider!

Find Black Marks on the White Page on Goodreads.


FRANGIPANI

Text: Frangipani, Celestine Vaite

I discovered this book when looking for books to add to this list, and was delighted to find this book! It sounds like a gem, and I look forward to picking this up in the near future.

  • The story follows Materena, a family-orientated Tahitian woman, and her headstrong daughter, Leilani.
  • The story actually focuses and explores mother-daughter relationships! Which was why I was so excited because I love books that explore family bonds.
  • Frangipani is also about gender expectations, particularly in a patriarchal society.

Find Frangipani on Goodreads.


TELESĀ

Text: Telesā, Lani Wendt Young

I love urban fantasy, and so I was excited to discover that this book exists! And the fact that this has a Samoan protagonist? I cannot wait to read this.

  • Follows Leila, a Samoan teen who, after investigating more of her Samoan heritage, discovers that her birthright is to become a telesa, one of earth’s elemental guardians.
  • It sounds like this book is also a paranormal romance, and the love interest is described to be a ‘noble Pacific warrior’. 👀
  • Also explores identity and belonging!

Find Telesa on Goodreads.


Let’s discuss!

I hope you all enjoyed this list of books by Maori and Pasifika authors. I unfortunately haven’t read all of the books here, so consider this to be also my to-read list during the month of May, and also for the rest of the year. 💛 I hope you all can join me in reading these books and support our Pasifika friends.

  • Have you read any of the book above? What did you think?
  • Do you have any book recommendations of books by Pasifika authors?
  • What will you be reading for Asian-Pacific Heritage Month?

18 thoughts on “Book Recommendations: Happy Asian Pacific Heritage Month! Books By Maori and Pasifika Authors

  1. Thank you so much for sharing these lovely recommendations! I hadn’t heard about any of these books, but they all sound so interesting! I’m especially interested in The Whale Rider and Frangipani 🙂 thank you for sharing! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I found this site has lots of pacific islander books in every genre highly recommend.
    https://www.laniwendtyoung.com/our-stories-tala-mai-le-moana/
    I agree more time should be devoted to pacific islander books I am going to try to read some during this month as well as Asian books. Unfortunately though here in America, it is very hard to get my hands on any pacific islander books. I found whale rider and velesi and maybe 2 other books but other than that there are so few books I can find. The only way I can get pacific islander books is through the library or by buying them myself which I wouldn’t mind doing but the shipping prices are horrendous on top of already paying full price for the books. I did the math and just getting one book was well over 30$ :(.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow that’s really expensive! Access to books is definitely a big problem and serious barrier. 😦 I’m not even sure if the library has some of the books I recommended as well. I guess all we can do is our best. 💛

      Like

  3. Thank you for this rec list! I have not read any of these books. I had no idea THE WHALE RIDER was a book! I remember seeing parts of the film, but now I really want to read the book & re-watch the movie. Thanks for bringing this one to my attention.

    Liked by 1 person

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