Tag Archives: Celestine Hitiura Vaite


The Scarlet Series by Lani Wendt Young

Every culture has its own taboos, topics that are forbidden to discuss, little secrets no one should know about. Lani Wendt Young isn’t scared to unravel even the most distressing truths. Her newest series is funny and light-hearted on the surface, but beneath all the cheerfulness one discovers the darker side of paradise.

These are romance books that show Samoa in a way it’s rarely seen.

‘Where We Once Belonged’ by Sia Figiel

A coming-of-age story set in Samoa and penned by a Samoan writer? Yes please!

This outstanding – and probably quite shocking to a foreign reader – novel is an exceptional explanation of the Samoan culture that touches on the subject of personal and social identity and the dominance of the latter over the former. Although written in a poetic manner, it is solidly anchored in reality.

The Materena Mahi Trilogy by Célestine Hitiura Vaite

This light-hearted series is a wonderful way to ‘see’ and understand (at least to some extent) Tahitian culture. Célestine Hitiura Vaite takes readers on a guided tour, showing them what it really means to live on the island many believe is the quintessence of romance. But is it really? Well, everyday life in the town of Faa’a may not be romantic, but it sure is full of excitement.

A wonderful – and gripping – journey to French Polynesia. One you don’t want to miss!

‘A Farm in the South Pacific Sea’ by Jan Walker

What does it mean to be a palangi businesswoman in Tonga in the 1960s and 1970s? Jan Walker’s novel provides a fantastic answer to this question. Despite being a fictionalized account of actual events (the story is based on the author’s cousin’s experiences), it offers invaluable insights into the life in the South Pacific kingdom.

This is a cross-cultural love story that moves, surprises, inspires, and educates.

‘Scar of the Bamboo Leaf’ by Sieni A.M.

Sieni A.M.’s book cannot be praised enough. Not only does it portray a touching and thought-provoking story, but it also lets readers immerse themselves in the world of Samoan customs and traditions, so deeply-rooted in the local culture. With this novel one can pay a visit to 21st-century Samoa and still explore the country’s ancient ways.

Marvelous read, pure and simple.


The Materena Mahi Series by Celestine Hitiura Vaite

This trilogy is about being a woman – a partner, a wife, a mother, a grandmother, a cousin, a professional, a star. It’s about caring for those you love but not forgetting about yourself. It’s about having a dream and chasing it. It’s about not being scared. It’s about taking the risk and getting what you really want from life.

‘Afakasi Woman’ by Lani Wendt Young

What does it mean to be an afakasi woman? To belong neither here nor there? To be too brown to be white and too white to be brown? It’s not always easy. There are hardships; there are trials, and tribulations. But there are also hopes, triumphs, and joys. Because women – regardless of their colour, race, culture – know how to be strong even in the worst of times.

‘Secret Shopper’ by Tanya Taimanglo

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. When Phoenix’s husband tells her he’s leaving, her entire world falls apart. But she knows that she needs to take hold of herself and this new situation she’s found herself in if she wants her little world to get back to normal again. She quickly learns that life is full of surprises and that happiness can wait just around the corner. You just have to believe and never ever give up.

The Scarlet Series by Lani Wendt Young

You can’t choose your family. But you can choose what impact your family will have on you. Even though Scarlet’s past doesn’t let her forget about itself, she finds motivation to let go of it and – for the first time in her life – have a little bit of (steamy) fun. Well, that’s what girls wanna do when they meet a deliciously divine man.

‘Freelove’ by Sia Figiel

Growing up is hard. Growing up in Samoa is even harder. Inosia happens to know an awful lot about it. Restricted by her culture, she’s wondering whether love can ever be free; whether a woman has the right to desire, pleasure, and sexual fulfillment. If so, at what cost?


Simone, The Telesa Trilogy by Lani Wendt Young

Just imagine… An exuberant fa’afafine who is an absolute ideal of a best friend and who seems to always know what to say and do. Don’t you wish you had a person like this around you? Yes, Simone is…well…just shamazing!

Lani Wendt Young created a character who’s far more interesting and compelling than the protagonists of the novels, but – what’s important – doesn’t steal the whole spotlight. The bright and bubbly personality she bestowed upon him makes the occasionally serious story exude humour and Polynesian cheerfulness.

Materena, The Materena Mahi Trilogy by Célestine Hitiura Vaite

Materena is the real heroine of the trilogy. A devoted wife, an excellent mother, a star. She is, as teenagers would say, the coolest ever.

The author managed to develop a dynamic female character who is, first and foremost, a woman strong enough to fight for herself and do as she pleases. This powerful feminist voice is a reminder that you can never forget about your own needs; and that your dreams are just as important as everybody else’s.

Kiva, ‘Scar of the Bamboo Leaf’ by Sieni A.M.

The most fascinating people are the ones who have a story to tell; the ones who are not perfect (what does it mean to be perfect, anyway?); the ones who can teach us something. And because we usually want the novels to reflect the real world, the same goes for literary characters.

Kiva, the protagonist of Sieni A.M.’s book, instantly becomes your best friend. She isn’t flawless (although for me she is!), she has her struggles, and yet she is determined to lead a happy and meaningful life. She is a true role model every one of us – regardless of age – should look up to and at least try to emulate.

Tomas, ‘An Ocean In a Cup’ by Stephen Tenorio Jr.

Stephen Tenorio Jr’s literary debut, ‘An Ocean In a Cup’, is a wonderful example that it is indeed possible to create a multi-layered character who can not only attract but also hold readers’ attention.

Tomas is a leading figure of the book. Although at first he seems like an ordinary – extremely gifted, yes, nonetheless completely average – young man, you quickly realize there is more to his personality than what you see on the surface. The inexplicable darkness within him makes you contemplate psychological mechanisms that define human nature.

Uncle Kahana,  The Niuhi Shark Saga by Lehua Parker

In Middle Grade/YA genre characters are probably the most important element of the story. They may be an inspiring example for the youth; they may provide them with guidance; they may impart the words of wisdom. But most of all, they may entertain.

Uncle Kahana is a mysterious elder who knows more than he’s willing to show. Well versed in traditional knowledge, he represents ‘old Hawaii’, showing everyone that the ancient way of being is an integral part of the island life, and that indigenous culture simply must be respected.


Materena Mahi Trilogy by Célestine Hitiura Vaite

Célestine Hitiura Vaite’s series is a perfect way to transport yourself to Tahiti – one of the most extraordinary places on the planet Earth.

Materena Mahi lives together with her man (not yet husband), Pito, and their three children. It may seem that she leads an ordinary life, but the truth is, in the town of Faa’a not a day, an hour, a minute goes by without some flurry of excitement.

A trilogy written for women. This is how you could sum this series up. It’s about love, hope, and courage to chase your dreams. It’s about commitment and discovering what’s truly important in life. It’s a beautiful and immensely engaging piece of literature that will make you both laugh and cry!


Sieni A.M.

Sieni A.M. is one of the best contemporary Pacific authors who seems to get better and better with every book she writes.

Her debut novel – ‘Illumine Her’ – is a wonderful YA paranormal romance, full of unexpected twists and turns that keep readers riveted from the very first to the very last page. But it’s the second book that fully reveals her talent. ‘Scar of the Bamboo Leaf’ simply delights, and it should be read by every single person, regardless of race, sex, or age. Keeping that in mind, you can’t help but eagerly await her next work.

Albert Wendt

A Samoan living legend. This is how you could describe Albert Wendt – unquestionably one of the greatest Pacific authors of all time.

His exceptionally well-written novels constitute a phenomenal, truthful portrayal of Samoan culture and way of life, so frequently romanticized by foreigners. More than often he broaches the subjects of Samoan diaspora and the relations between Pacific Islanders and ‘white people’, examining the effect the latter have on the traditions of his countrymen.

Lani Wendt Young

They say that talent runs in the family. In case of Albert Wendt and his niece, this is indeed very true.

Lani Wendt Young never ceases to amaze. Her writing style, fantastic sense of humour, and ability to turn great ideas into even greater stories is unmatched. Whether you’ll reach for her famous Telesa series, the new Scarlet trilogy, the collection of short stories, or the account of the 2009 Pacific tsunami, you will be taken on an unforgettable journey, because every publication with Lani Wendt Young’s name on the cover is a promise of something truly extraordinary.

Epeli Hau’ofa

Epeli Hau’ofa was a writer, poet, storyteller, thinker, and mentor, whose beautiful mind created some of the most amazing pieces about the Blue Continent, or ‘sea of islands’, as he used to call it.

Hau’ofa was a versatile author who could write anything, from fiction to short stories to essays to poetry, equally well. Every single of his works is not only highly engaging but also very thought-provoking and thus worth contemplating. It’s impossible to discuss Pacific literature without mentioning at least one (if not all) of his publications.

Célestine Hitiura Vaite

Célestine Hitiura Vaite is one of those authors who have their very own, distinctive style. Not everyone appreciates it, which is quite incomprehensible, because this lady definitely knows how to create a gripping narrative that is funny and poignant at the same time.

Her wonderful trilogy about Materena Mahi, a professional cleaner-turned-radio star, is a literary masterpiece, pure and simple, and a great example of contemporary Pacific fiction. Sadly, the three aforementioned books are Célestine Hitiura Vaite’s only published works, and no new book is on the horizon.


‘Tiare in Bloom’ is the final instalment in Célestine Hitiura Vaite’s trilogy featuring Materena Mahi, her husband Pito, and their day-to-day experiences in beautiful Tahiti.



After becoming a radio talk-show host, Materena is a big star in the little town of Faa’a. She is not a professional cleaner anymore, but a confident, successful woman – a proud wife, a mother of three grown-up children, a local celebrity – who truly enjoys her new life. Instead of sitting at home, she takes driving lessons and goes out with her girlfriends to have some fun. Her behaviour doesn’t go unnoticed by Pito. Oh how he wants his wife to be her old self again! But it seems that the good old times have irretrievably passed.

Everything changes when an infant baby girl is left on the couple’s doorstep. As the little cutie pie turns out to be their son’s daughter, Materena and Pito feel it’s their duty to take care of her. And so they do. Quite surprisingly, the star grandfather – Pito – finally gains admiration not only from his wife, but also her relatives.


Can the third book in a series be better than the first two? Apparently it can. This volume may be Vaite’s best work yet. It’s so deep, so multidimensional, so insightful that you can’t help but marvel at both the story itself and the author’s craft.

Those who read the previous titles in the trilogy might be surprised to find out that this last instalment is not about Materena. Although she still remains a prominent character, it’s her significant other Pito who steals the limelight. His trials and tribulations, his efforts to become a man worthy of his wife are the focal points of this incredibly interesting narrative. Vaite managed to paint a very believable portrait of a husband, father, son, and finally a doting grandfather. As she describes Pito’s transformation from a self-absorbed, I-know-everything macho to a loving and wise man, she plants a seed of change in people’s mentality. It’s a fact that she tries to influence and inspire primarily her fellow countrymen, who are members of a highly traditional society with strictly defined gender roles. But the truth is, this thought-provoking tale has the power to affect every single human being, regardless of race, sex, age, or religion. Gentlemen, if you’ve been wondering what it really means to be an ‘alpha male’, you should grab this novel and ponder on the author’s words. Ladies, you think you’re obliged to do certain things just because you are women? Think again, and you may soon experience your very own eureka moment.

Vaite’s shocking (at least to some readers) look at love, marriage, and family makes this book an outstanding study of custom in transition. Somewhere between the lines of this light-hearted, amusing story lie the well-known truths and waiting to be discovered secrets. Many (if not all) of them are universally applicable, capable of fitting into any time and place. We are still in French Polynesia; but this time French Polynesia represents the whole world.

It’s fair to say that Célestine Hitiura Vaite outdid herself with this volume. If her previous novels are good – and they are – this one is excellent. Created in her distinctive style, it’s a magnificent closure to the Tahitian trilogy – entertaining, funny, inspirational, extremely touching. I can promise you that your emotions will be running high every time you flip the page of ‘Tiare in Bloom’. A book can’t possibly get any better than this.

So do not wait to lay your hands on these gems. Each of the three titles is charming, well written, and thoroughly engaging. Together, they form a wonderful series that offers a fascinating insight into Tahitian culture. Let Materena, Pito, and the rest of the clan give you a guided tour of the place they are privileged to call home. But be careful, you may not want to come back.


‘Frangipani’ is the second instalment in Célestine Hitiura Vaite’s Tahitian trilogy. It brings back the story of Materena Mahi and her family.



Smart and inquisitive Leilani has been her mother’s pride since the day she was born. When the girl arrived in the world, Materena promised herself that her daughter would have everything that’s needed in order to lead a happy and fulfilled life.

So now, as Leilani grows older, Materena is determined to succeed in keeping her word. She spares no expense on the girl’s education – she buys her a set of encyclopedias (because her daughter asks a lot of questions) and sends her to a Catholic school (because she needs to become a confident woman who knows her own worth). She teaches her, she shows her useful tricks, she gives her advices. Everything seems to be perfect, until Leilani falls in love… Materena suddenly realizes that her darling girl is not a teenager anymore, but a strong-minded young lady.


Can the second book in a series be better than the first one? Célestine Hitiura Vaite proves that this is indeed possible. ‘Frangipani’ lives up to its expectations; I even dare to say it surpasses them.

Anyone familiar with the author’s other works can easily predict what to expect from this novel. Vaite remained faithful to her distinctive style: simple, unadorned, full of gentle humour. She is a master at transmitting emotions without using flowery prose. Her right-to-the-point words fill your imagination, giving you a chance to decamp to Tahiti and spend some quality time with Materena and her (truly extraordinary) family. From the very beginning you get immersed in this whimsical world, which – for quite a while – becomes your little universe.

Now, you may think that the plot is similar to that of Vaite’s previous book. To a certain degree, it is. However, this doesn’t make ‘Frangipani’ uninteresting. Despite the fact that the story – again – revolves around Materena and her seemingly monotonous life, the volume feels different from its predecessor. Mostly because this time the author focuses her full attention on a mother-daughter relationship, which – as we all know – is not always a smooth and easy ride; there are ups and downs, there are misunderstandings, there are tears of joy and sorrow. While describing the special bond the two women share, Célestine Hitiura Vaite doesn’t take sides. Instead, she remains an objective observer who empathizes with both females. She conveys their feelings and emotions, letting you understand the complexity of their relation.

The novel is set in French Polynesia, so – as you can expect – the country’s culture is also a very prominent subject. The clash between traditional values and modernity is neatly woven into the storyline, with Materena representing the former and Leilani the latter. The author tackles the issue with unusual grace. Her reflections are not overwhelming – the narratives are still first and foremost just amusing tales written to entertain – though they’re definitely thought-provoking. For some readers, especially those who has never come into contact with traditional societies, the book may be a real eye-opener; maybe a little shocking, but unquestionably immensely interesting.

It cannot be denied that Célestine Hitiura Vaite is an exceptionally talented writer, and this novel – just like the first one – proves it. It’s delightfully charming, thoroughly engaging, and deeply moving. It’s like a fresh breeze that brings the irresistible scent of frangipani. You can’t help but be seduced.


‘Breadfruit’ is Célestine Hitiura Vaite’s debut novel and the first volume of her Tahitian trilogy. The story, which is set in French Polynesia, concentrates on the daily life of Materena Mahi, her family, relatives, and friends.



Materena lives in Faa’a together with her man, Pito, and their three children. She is a professional cleaner (because there is a difference between ‘a cleaner’ and ‘a professional cleaner’) and the best listener in all of Tahiti. She likes romantic songs and those beautiful movies about love. Contrary to Pito, who prefers movies with cowboys, action, and as little talking as possible.

After nearly thirteen years together, Materena wants nothing more than a ring on her finger. However, Pito is not very eager to give her one; because when you marry a woman, you tie a rope around your neck.

So when one night a drunken Pito suddenly proposes, Materena isn’t sure what to think. Nevertheless, she starts planning her dream wedding. Just in case the big day finally comes.


This novel simply delights. With the very first sentence, you are transported to the wonderful world of French Polynesia, where life is deliciously uncomplicated, and not a day goes by without some flurry of excitement. And although you know that this is just a short visit, you want it to last. You don’t want to leave neither the island, nor its fascinating inhabitants.

Naturally, the country plays a prominent role in the book. I dare to say, it is one of the major characters. Constant references to Tahitian culture give you the most interesting insights into contemporary French Polynesia. And despite the absence of descriptions, you can easily feel the relaxed atmosphere of the Pacific. You can picture yourself leisurely wandering the streets of Faa’a, talking to people at the Chinese store, or winding down beside a lovely-smelling frangipani tree. As it turns out, you need no vivid imagery to be able to visualize the place. In this case, it is the story itself that lets the exotic setting be ‘seen’.

And the story is absolutely bewitching. What’s interesting, it doesn’t have a conventional plot. The novel is structured as a series of interconnected narratives, each of which concentrates on a different subject matter, and thus can be treated as a stand-alone tale. Of course, you may think that such storyline – with its focus on the daily lives of a few individuals – must be at least somewhat mundane, however I can assure you that this is not the case here.

The well-crafted plot is driven by the outstanding characters. These are they who make their actions engaging, amusing, and highly readable. Everyone – from Materena and Pito to Mama Roti to Cousin Giselle – is given a chance to shine with their own light. Célestine Hitiura Vaite created a group of people who are extraordinary in their ordinariness – they are defined, complex, believable, realistic. Any one of them could be your neighbour or a friend – someone you could confide to or go grab a beer with. It’s very easy to identify with these individuals, even for those readers who aren’t Pacific Islanders.

One of the most distinctive features of this book is the author’s writing style. Some say it’s childish, I say it’s absolutely brilliant. The use of direct, elementary language embellished with French and Tahitian words is very appealing. It’s not elegant prose with long, flowery depictions that you wish would magically disappear; it’s a simple composition written with warmth, passion, and gentle feminine humour. Célestine Hitiura Vaite certainly doesn’t try to impress with her writing skills, and yet her novel leaves everyone in awe.

‘Breadfruit’ is an outstanding piece of literature. It charms from start to finish, it educates, it gives a lot of enjoyment. Maybe it’s not the best read for men, but all the ladies will surely find it extremely attractive.


The Telesa Series by Lani Wendt Young

It is an engaging story of Leila Folger, a young woman from Washington D.C., who comes to Samoa in search of her heritage. As she spends time on the beautiful island, she not only discovers who she really is, but also finds the love of her life.

The series, which is considered Young Adult Paranormal Romance, is suitable for readers of all ages. It is an extremely compelling tale of love, friendship, commitment and devotion, which introduces people to Samoan mythology and the legend of Teine Sa. Every single book of this trilogy is a masterpiece; it’s something you will not regret buying, reading, and rereading over and over again.

The Materena Mahi Series by Celestine Hitiura Vaite

The novels follow Materena Mahi, a young female living in Tahiti. Her seemingly ordinary life is full of surprises and events that constantly turn her little world upside down.

This trilogy is a cultural study of contemporary Tahiti woven into a gripping and written with a great sense of humour story. Celestine Hitiura Vaite created an amazing group of characters, whose trials and tribulations show readers the true value of life and family. These heart-warming novels simply deserve to be read and praised, as they are exceptionally good.

The Niuhi Shark Saga by Lehua Parker

Set in modern Hawaii, the Niuhi Shark Saga is a series of five books that tell the story of Zader, a boy who was found abandoned on a reef and adopted by the Westin family. His life on the island, not an easy one, is full of secrets and mysteries that Zader needs to uncover.

As for now, only two volumes have been published; the third one is due out later this year. This is a wonderful series for children, both boys and girls, but if you ask me, any adult will be more than happy to read it. Lehua Parker did a fantastic job of mixing magic with reality – while reading the books, everyone will be transported to a completely different world of exciting adventures.

The Ancient Tahiti Series by Clare Coleman

It is a story of Tepua, a chief’s daughter, whose canoe is wrecked on the shores of Tahiti. Despite many adversities, despite being a stranger in a foreign land, she learns to live among not always friendly and amiable people. Everything changes when she finally comes back home.

This is an extremely moving and exciting historical trilogy. It takes readers on a wonderful journey to Tahiti, where ancient customs and traditions come to life. It is a truly captivating read. Settings, scenery, characters – everything is just magnificent.

The One Foot Island Trilogy by Graeme Lay

The books tell the story of a teenage girl, Tuaine Takamoa, who leaves her beloved islands to attend school in New Zealand. When she comes back home, she falls in love with Adam, an Australian boy whose parents are not happy with their son’s new relationship.

This is another series for young adults, but, let me tell you, it is a good one! Tuaine is a very believable heroine. The problems and dilemmas she needs to deal with provide readers (both young and old) with interesting insights into the world of teenagers. An alluring titles for adolescents and valuable and educational material for their parents.