Purple Heart

Andrew Fiu arrived in Ponsonby as a five-year-old, part of the wave of immigration from Samoa that turned Auckland's inner city suburbs into a vibrant cultural melting pot. Within ten years, he would fall ill and spend the rest of his life fighting to stay alive.

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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 six 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.


Purple Heart 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 performed 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 bucket loads of humour.
"In response to the many people who have asked about Purple Heart...
I decided to put the first three chapters online. So for all those who haven't yet bought the book, you can at least start to read it here. You can download to read on your computer, you can email to your friends ... I hope you enjoy it."
Ta'afuli Andrew


"In Purple heart, Ta'afuli Andrew Fiu offers what is at once an often comic memoir of body consciousness and an affirmative essay on how his life-long struggle against an ever-looming total eclipse of the heart has helped concentrate his mind. In the end, Fiu's autobiography ... though some times very wry, he's never self-pitying; rather, he celebrates the human comedy."

David Eggleton, The Listener, New Zealand

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