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Reviewed by Nicola Littley-Va’asili, English Teacher, Havelock North High School, Hawkes Bay.
Opening sentence
Pasifika ways of old and new crash together
Pasifika Navigators is a powerful poetry collection from students in the Malaga a le Pasefika class at Naenae College in Wellington. The students have submitted poems that express their feelings about who they are, and where they fit in the Pakeha/Palagi world of New Zealand. The poetry is thoughtful, expressive and at times heartbreaking. Reading through these poems gives you some understanding of what life is like for those who do not feel that they fit into the generic mould. They also express their love for their families while struggling with being a teenager in a society that does not represent them.

The book is powerful, because these words are straight from the students, and so you get an idea of their mindset. It includes illustrations of island patterns and different colours, which help divide the poems and also to give the reader a taste of the different cultures. I highly recommend this book to teenagers and to other teachers. There is a lot to unpack, ideas that are thought provoking and characters who are memorable. I thoroughly enjoyed reading these poems, and I hope we see more work like this from the school.
Publisher: Mila's Books
ISBN: 978-0-473-65142-8
Format: Paperback
Publication: 2023
Ages: 13–25
Themes: Love, family, identity, culture