Journalist Fuimaono Lumepa Hald wrote an article for the Samoa Observer about how a children’s book about a Samoan grandfather who shared the story of a family siapo (tapa) with his grandchildren and is themed around the 60th independence anniversary will be launched end of this month.
Samoan author Dahlia Malaeulu said the story unfolds to talk of the different elements of the special siapo (tapa) which represent Sāmoa’s challenging journey to independence. The book is one of many to be released under the Mila’s My Aganu‘u Series in New Zealand.
Ms Malaelu said that she was inspired by her own ‘Grandpa storytellers’ such as her father and uncles, who at different times during her learning, told her about the importance of Samoan culture and history. “It was also inspired by my own author visits to schools where I share and talk about different Samoan cultural artefacts including a special siapo (tapa) that I was gifted,” she said.
Ms Malaelu personally believes that the world is in need of more Pacific island stories.
“Besides the world needing more Pasifika stories and history resources for our tamaiti, Grandpa’s Siapo helps to develop readers understanding of Sāmoa’s history with New Zealand while encouraging talanoa around the impact of colonisation, key historical events and Samoan leaders who continually fought for Sāmoa to be led by Samoans.”
The young author also made reference to the exploits of past Samoan warriors who fought for the Samoan language and culture to survive.
“For us as Samoans, I think Grandpa’s Siapo reminds us that we come from brave warriors and ancestors who continually fought for our Samoan language and culture to survive in the face of adversity as well,” she said. “Grandpa’s Siapo is also quite special because it is the first picture book in the world that tells the story of our Samoan history.
“It was proudly created by an all Pasifika team and received a personal blessing from Fialaui‘afualeafi Tamasese – daughter of Sāmoa’s first Co-Head of State, Tupua Tamasese Mea‘ole and the oldest grandchild of Ta‘isi Olaf Frederick Nelson.”
The author said that Grandpa’s Siapo is for everyone and can be a literacy resource for children, students, teachers, parents and families of all ethnicities.
“There is a misconception that Samoans around the world are aware of our own history, but unfortunately this is not always the case due to the impact of colonization, traditional oral storytelling declining or not being passed on as well as not having any suitable Pasifika resources especially for our children,” she added.
Emphasizing her belief that her book will help many Samoans strengthen their connection to Samoan culture and their cultural identity, she said it is her hope for all the books in her series to help develop the children’s connection to their culture.
“I hope that our Mila’s My Aganu‘u Series is to help develop understanding and connections by having our tamaiti safely learn about who we are as Samoans so they can learn to succeed as themselves, as well as have us all understand the endless potential we have as Pasifika.”
Ms Malaelu said the picture book will be released on 14 May 2022 in New Zealand and will be available from Lagi Routes from the Pacific store for the general public and Wheelers Books for schools and libraries.
“Also access to our stories is key to us at Mila’s Books so in honour of the 60th Anniversary of Samoan Independence this year and our national Samoan language week, our entire Mila’s My Aganu‘u Series including Grandpa’s Siapo, will be made available to the world as a paperback and e-book via Amazon on the 29th of May.”