Nelisi, Lino

Nelisi, Lino



In Brief

Lino Nelisi is a bilingual New Zealand children’s writer whose books celebrate New Zealand’s cultural diversity. Of Niuean Samoan heritage, Nelisi has worked as a primary teacher in Niue and in Auckland, and as an Auckland College of Education adviser on Pacific Islands education. She has produced more than 15 texts and her work is published in English, Māori, Samoan, Tongan, Niuean, Tokelauan, Cook Island Māori and Spanish. She has been shortlisted several times for the New Zealand Post Children’s Picture Book Award.


Nelisi, Lino (1952 –) is a bilingual New Zealand children's writer and teacher whose books celebrate New Zealand's cultural diversity. "About a third of children in New Zealand schools are Polynesian," Lino Nelisi writes. "Books which reflect students' cultures offer an understanding of those cultures."

Lino Nelisi was born in Kauhi, Avatele, on Niue Island. Her father Ugamea Levi was Niuean, from the village of Avatele, and her mother Peko was Samoan, from the village of Vaipuna. She is a Niue language and culture expert, and she is passionate about the maintenance of her language and culture.

Nelisi started teaching in Niue Island in 1970-1977, and resumed her teaching profession in Auckland in the late 1980s. She is passionate about teaching students from diverse cultural backgrounds and helping them to increase their achievement. Her strengths are in Story Telling, knowledge of Niue Language and Culture, maintenance of her heritage language, teaching English to Students of Other Languages, English Literacy, Reading and Writing. She has four children, three of whom are teachers.

Nelisi's titles are Aiani moe Pia aitu (1993); Koe ama uga (1994); Venise and the little red radio (1996); Siones' Tale (1992); Te taro O Sione (1992); Koe tale ha Sione (1993); O le talo Sione (1993) which was a finalist in the Children's Picture Book Award in 1993; Fishing with Spiderwebs (1994) which was also a finalist in the Children's Picture Book Award in 1995; Sione Went Fishing (1996); Thats the way (1998); El taro de Sione (1996); Tane steals the show (1997); Tane te whetu o te ra (1997); He ika mawhitiwhiti pungawerewere (2000). Ko e Pele Kilikiki was published in 2003, and a graphic novel The Blue Roses in 2010.

Her work has been published in English, Māori, Samoan, Tongan, Niuean, Tokelauan, Cook Island Māori and Spanish. Seven of Lino Nelisi’s books which are written in seven different languages are archived in the Children’s Digital Library in the Library of Congress, Capitol Hill, USA.

Lino Nelisi was the first Pacific Island student to graduate with a Master Degree in Education (Pasifika Education) from the Epsom Campus of the Auckland University. From 1995-2003 she worked as an education Adviser, later becoming the Facilitator in the TEAM Solutions department at Auckland College of Education (now part of the University of Auckland). From 2003-2005 Lino Nelisi was employed by AUT University as a lecturer for the School of Education. She was employed by PINZ as a Literacy Specialist on the Vanuatu Education Assistance Programme, and was also employed as a teacher in the Gifted Children's Advancement School in Tamaki.

Lino Nelisi participated as an International Advisor in the celebration of the Children’s Digital Library in the Library Congress in Washington, USA. She was a participant in the South Pacific Festival in New Caledonia, escorted Prime Minister Helen Clarke to Niue Island in 2004, toured Malaysia and ran an educational trip to her mother’s village of Vaipuna in Apia, Samoa in 2008.

In 2015 Nelisi was the Writer in Residence for St Joseph's School in Otahuhu.

Nelisi was an original Board of Trustee member for Glendowie Primary School and Glendowie College. She is an elected Staff Rep on the Board of Mt Albert Primary School from 2012-2016.

Most recently Nelisi worked at Mt Albert Primary school. She was the Curriculum leader for English, Literacy specialist, Tutor and Associate teacher and a Team Leader for the Middle School.

In 2015/16 Nelisi was one of the current Niue Primary School teachers in New Zealand who is in the Niue Language Advisory group. She helps with the development of Lift Education Dual Language resources for the Ministry of Education. You can read and listen to one of her dual language early literacy books, Aunti Ligi's Talo Garden, on Te Kete Ipurangi.

Lino Nelisi on BooksellersNZ

Lino Nelisi in the Oxford Companion to New Zealand Literature

Last updated August 2021.


Lino Nelisi is available to talk to primary school students through the Writers in Schools programme. She will discuss her experiences as a bilingual writer and translator.

Updated January 2017.