Young, Lani Wendt

Young, Lani Wendt


Primary publisher
One Tree House
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In Brief

Lani Wendt Young is an award-winning writer. She has written a popular series of young adult novels set in Samoa, the Telesā series, as well as Afakasi Woman: A Collection of Short Fiction (Pasifika Books, 2012). Her work has been published in journals such as JAAM, New Zealand School Journal and the Samoan school journal Folauga.


Young, Lani Wendt (1973–) is an award-winning writer, publisher and journalist of Samoan and Māori descent.

In February 2019 she was named a recipient of a Waitangi Day Literary Honour by the New Zealand Society of Authors (PEN NZ Inc).In 2018 she was the ACP Pacific Laureate selected by the African, Caribbean, Pacific Group of States as they paid tribute to her ‘creativity, courage and entrepreneurship.’

Born and raised in Samoa, she attended university in the USA and New Zealand. Storytelling is her passion. She is the author of 11 books and has won multiple awards for her short fiction. She’s worked as a scriptwriter for Disney, and her stories for children are published by the NZ School Journal.

She was the 2018 recipient of the Douglas Gabb Australia-Pacific Journalism internship and in 2017 her reporting on climate change issues in the Pacific won her a coveted fellowship award to the UN Climate Conference in Bonn, Germany. In 2012 she won the USP Press Prize with her collection of short fiction, Afakasi Woman.

Lani writes columns about feminism, religion, culture, parenting, climate justice and everything in between. Her essay on A Samoan Woman’s Perspective on Ordain Women features in the Oxford Univ Press 2015 collection Mormon Feminism: Essential Writings. Her writing on child sexual abuse and domestic violence in Pasifika communities has generated dialogue in many forums worldwide.

Her work is described as ‘witty, ironic and delicious, flavored with poetic descriptions; garnished with intense passion; coated in the relaxed atmosphere of the Samoan archipelago’ (Tales from Pasifika, April 2015).

In 2019, Lani delivered the annual Book Council Lecture (now Read NZ Te Pou Muramura Pānui): Stories from the Wild: Reading and Writing in the Digital Age. Her talk was widely covered in the New Zealand media, and the published lecture is available for download here.

In 2020, Afakasi Woman (OneTree House) was shortlisted for New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults.


Updated April 2022.