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About the book
  • Published: 4 August 2006
  • ISBN: 9781869418045
  • Imprint: Random House NZ
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 320
  • RRP: $27.99

Purple Heart




An affecting, insightful and warm memoir of growing up Samoan in New Zealand — and of coping with heart disease.

An affecting, insightful and warm memoir of growing up Samoan in New Zealand — and of coping with heart disease.

Andrew Fiu came to Ponsonby, Auckland as a three-year-old, part of the wave of immigration from Samoa that turned Auckland's inner city suburbs into a vibrant cultural melting pot. At 14 he was misdiagnosed as having flu when in fact he had rheumatic fever, a disease endemic in Pacific Island communities.

As a result of the damage to his heart he was rushed to hospital. Since that time Andrew has had five open heart surgeries, a record anywhere. He has spent so much time in hospital that he says he grew up there, experiencing tender and expert care from doctors and nurses but also enduring appalling racism.

This memoir is the story of his hospital years, his clashes with his parents' traditional attitudes, the wisdom he learnt from his fellow patients and the medical miracles perfomed on his heart by famous surgeon Alan Kerr.

It's the story of growing up a Pacific Islander in Auckland, a reflection on the bad old days when schools made Pacific Island children anglicise their names and hospitals did not have translators, an insight into the inter-generational tensions in Pacific Island migrant families and also a testimony to deep friendship, boundless love and bucketloads of humour.

Written in a warm, personable and humorous style, this book is part of the cultural sea-change happening in New Zealand: first the play Niu Sila, then Bro'Town, No. 2 and Sione's Wedding and now the first memoir from a 40-something Samoan, written with grace, love and insight.

  • Pub date: 4 August 2006
  • ISBN: 9781869418045
  • Imprint: Random House NZ
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 320
  • RRP: $27.99

About the Author

Andrew Fiu

Ta’afuli Andrew Fiu is author of the memoir Purple Heart, his account of growing up Samoan in New Zealand and of the years he spent in hospital coping with a serious heart condition, under the care of famous cardiac surgeon Alan Kerr, following a bout of rheumatic fever as a teenager. He spent over four and a half years in hospital and has had six open-heart surgeries, a world record. Andrew was born at Lefaga, Matautu, a small province of Apia in Western Samoa, and came with his family to New Zealand when he was three years old. After establishing Pacific Mango Media and Design with his partner, Michele, he went on to be Special Publications Manager for APN/New Zealand Herald. He is still active in the Samoan community in Auckland, and believes in promoting education, and is dedicated to lifting the educational aspirations of high-school-aged children. He is a member of the New Zealand Book Council’s Writers in Schools programme. See more at www.lifeafter6.com.

The Weekend Herald’s Canvas magazine wrote: ‘Written with verge and humour, Purple Heart is a revelation.’ David Eggleton, in The New Zealand Listener, singled it out as one of the year’s best memoirs of 2006, praising its humour, light touch, and lack of self-pity. In Metro, Warwick Roger hailed ‘an interesting new voice’ and praised how ‘the Polynesian humour shine[s] through … on nearly every page’. City Mix called it ‘culturally illuminating, often philosophical, and endearingly honest’, while Spasifik magazine wrote: ‘With the seductive humour of a Samoan story teller, Andrew Fiu’s first writing effort is one that should not go unnoticed.’


Praise for Purple Heart

“An interesting new voice ... the Polynesian humour shine[s] through … on nearly every page. - Warwick Roger, Metro. ”

Warwick Roger, Metro

“Culturally illuminating, often philosophical, and endearingly honest - CityMix”

Staff writer, CityMix

“With the seductive humour of a Samoan story teller, Andrew Fiu’s first writing effort is one that should not go unnoticed. -- Spasifik ”

Staff writer, Spasifik


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