Mila’s Books publishes quality stories and literacy resources that reflect Pasifika values, languages, and cultures. Their multilingual collection of titles covers all school levels, develops cultural confidence and understanding in their readers, and ensures that children can be seen, heard and valued in the worlds they live in. Well-designed and playfully illustrated, Mila’s Books are ideal for classroom use. In 2022 their young adult title, Tama Sāmoa, won a Storylines Notable Book Award.
The popular My Gagana series is a set of rich, accessible resources for learning Gagana Sāmoa (Samoan language) at preschool and junior primary level (ages 0–7). These fun and interactive books are predominantly in English and provide scaffolded support for children, families and teacheres to learn basic language skills. Each story is filled with relatable everyday contexts to introduce and build confidence in Samoan language. ‘Tusi faitau for all the fanau’ — ‘storybooks for all the family.’
Mila’s My Aganu‘u series were created to engage and teach children, family and educators about Samoan values and culture. Aimed at middle-to-senior primary school students (ages 7–12), the illustrated stories showcase artforms like siva afi and siapo along with Samoan history. While most of the texts are in English, the My Aganu‘u series also includes glossaries so that children of all backgrounds can learn about Samoan culture, history and language.
Young Adult books
Teine Sāmoa includes a fictional story, student study questions and the Teine Sāmoa Project which shares the real-life stories of 14 Samoan female students and educators. Aimed at students aged 7-18, the title explores the cultural challenges of young Samoan women growing up in New Zealand. Study questions included with the book are designed to spark discussion in the classroom and at home, allowing those of Sāmoan heritage to reconnect and reunite with their culture while highlighting the need to better understand and support all Pasifika tamaiti. Teine Sāmoa is written primarily in English.
Mila Books’ second young adult title, Tama Sāmoa, is the brother book to Teine Sāmoa and a Storylines Notable Book Award Winner for 2022. It includes the fictional story of four young men of Sāmoan heritage dealing with the impact of the cultural challenges they face growing up in New Zealand, as well as student study questions. Like its sister book, it includes real life stories 14 Samoan male students and teachers. Together the two titles open a space for young Pasifika readers to engage their own questions about growing up, belonging, and acceptance.
Losi the Giant Fisherman is a hero story about the mischievous yet loyal Losi who brought taro—the Samoan food of the Gods—down to Earth. The first of its kind, this Samoan legend follows a ‘pick-a-path’ story format. A New Dawn by Tongan/Niuean author Emeli Sione is a non-fiction picture book that details the Dawn Raids—an important moment in New Zealand history—from a first person perspective. Published in 2022, it is the first book to include the New Zealand government’s apology speech. A New Dawn helps students develop an understanding of the Dawn Raids and the Polynesian Panthers within a wider struggle for Pasifika peoples’ equality, justice and healing.
Lea Faka-Tonga (Tongan language)
Ko e Pongipongi Fo’ou by Emeli Sione and translated by Mele Lolohea is Mila Books’ first title in Lea Faka-Tonga (Tongan language). It was also published simultaneously in English as A New Dawn.
Dahlia Malaeulu is a Samoan New Zealander and award-winning author of numerous children’s books. As the publisher and creator of Mila’s Books, she is a passionate educator who seeks to develop cultural confidence amongst tamaiti (children), fanau (families) and faiā‘oga (educators). In her three years running Mila’s Books, she has been able to share the stories of over 90 first-time Pasifika authors across Aotearoa, demonstrating commitment to advancing Pasifika storytelling by Pasifika people. In 2020 she was recognised with a Pasifika Women in Business Award and in 2022 was granted an Emerging Pacific Artist Award by Creative New Zealand. She works closely with the Ministry of Education and is a board member for national advocacy body Read NZ Te Pou Muramura.