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He is a world renowned award winning poet, novelist and artist, a celebrated academic and now he is a Samoan matai. The village of Malie was bustling on Saturday  as one of it’s better-known sons returned to help in “rebuilding and strengthening our family ties in the village.”

Professor Albert Wendt went back to his roots as he was bestowed the title of Maualaivao, something he said he never wanted. “I am 72 years old, I have never had a Saofai (title bestowal) mainly because I have not wanted to have a saofai” “Even though I didn’t want to accept the title, because it was going to be a lot of work and stress, I had to accept it.

Samoan life is very complex and very complicated and at my age it’s going to be even more difficult. “When the elders of my family, especially my aunt who lived here in Malie wanted me to have a title, I would leave the country, my aunt died before she was able to give me a title.”

The Wendt family originated from Malie and this is one of the reasons the bestowal was so significant.
“We are the descendants of MaualaivaoFili from Malie.

The descendants are called Wendts because Edward Wendt came to Samoa and married MaualaFili’s daughter and from that union came the Wendts.
“Our Maualaivao has been vacant for over 10 years. The last Maualaivao was a cousin of mine Maualaivao John Wendt.”

Although reluctant to assume the title, Professor Wendt came anyway in a move to help rebuild the Wendt family in Malie. “Last year, my siblings and I got together and decided we had to rebuild our family. There are very few of our relatives left here in Malie, so it was decided that I was to assume the Maualaivao title.

“This is the first step towards rebuilding and strengthening our family ties in the village.”