Emeritus Professor Wendt was invested and is now the first Samoan, and Pacific representative to receive New Zealand’s highest honour, the Order of New Zealand.
There were congratulations to Emeritus Professor Albert Wendt, whose writings, teachings and leadership have contributed to the fabric of cultural diversity here in Aotearoa, and earned international recognition for a man who has always worked hard to advance the aspirations of Pasifika peoples, according to a media statement from Maori Party leaders.
He was awarded an Order of Merit for Services to Literature and Education by the Government of Samoa in 1994, and a New Zealand Queens Birthday honour in 2001. Yesterday he has been rightfully elevated to the Order of New Zealand.
A prolific author of short stories, poems, plays, and novels. His stories have opened our eyes to tales of the Pacific, they confront social, political and cultural issues and challenge our thinking and our actions.
A son of Samoa, Emeritus Professor Wendt, as a descendant of Maualaivao Fili from Malie, accepted the Saofai (title bestowal), as a means of giving back to his village.
Emeritus Professor Wendt was honoured with the chiefly title last year, he did so as a means of helping to rebuild family ties in the village. It meant a great deal to the people of Malie to honour him, not just for his contribution to the village but the nation as a whole.
He has shared of himself and his culture through his work, and has also created opportunities for the advancement of Pasifika education, here and abroad.
He was instrumental in the establishment of the Pacific Studies Department at The University of Auckland, and also the Fale Pasifika which is beautiful symbol of the place of Pasifika people within the University, and within Auckland.
The outstanding contribution that Maualaivao Emeritus Professor Albert has made to the communities of Aotearoa. His family and aiga, who are no doubt proud of his contribution to Aotearoa and the Pacific. What he has achieved would not have been possible without their support.
The Governor-General, Lt Gen The Rt Hon Sir Jerry Mateparae, and Lady Janine Mateparae, hosted the ceremony at Government House Auckland yesterday.
Also Māori leader Dame Ngāneko Minhinnick, businessman and philanthropist Sir Owen Glenn, former All Black, Bryan Williams and actor Rāwiri Paratene, were among 40 people whose achievements were celebrated at investiture ceremonies.