Academic Staff

John Mayer PhD

John MayerJohn Mayer is an Associate Professor of Samoan and Chair of the Department of Indo-Pacific Languages and Literature.  He was a Peace Corps Volunteer and Trainer in Samoa from 1970-1976, and founded the Samoan language program at the University of Hawaii in 1976.  He teaches introductory through advanced Samoan language courses and is a graduate faculty in Pacific Islands Studies.  He has an MA in ESL and a PhD in Linguistics from the University of Hawaii and holds two chiefly titles – Fepuleai from Savaii and Lasei from Manono.



Faafetai Lesa PhD

Fa’afetai Lesa holds a Doctor of Philosophy in Education (PhD) in Curriculum Studies, a Master’s degree in English As a Second Language (ESL), a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Secondary Education, and an Associate of Arts (AA) in General Education. His teaching career began in Samoa in 1987 as an Elementary teacher. After the completion of his B.A in Education at the University of Hawaii in 1989, he taught for a year at McKinley High School. He was hired to teach Samoan at the University of Hawai’i in the Fall of 1989.  Since then he has taught First, Second, and Third-year Samoan classes. In addition to being the coordinator of the Samoan Language Program, he has taught a load of 12 credits every semester for the last 24 years. His research work aims at the development of Samoan youth cultural identity through heritage language competency. He lives in Kaneohe Hawaii with his wonderful wife and three beautiful daughters.


Fata Simanu-Klutz PhD


Dr. Luafata (aka Fata) Simanu-Klutz is an assistant professor at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa’s department of Indo-Pacific Languages and Literatures (IPLL), where she teaches second and third year Samoan language, literature, and history, and upper level courses on traditional Samoan literature, Samoan women writers, the works of Albert Wendt and other modern Pacific island writers.  She is also an affiliate faculty for the Center for Pacific Islands Studies (CPIS).  She is currently a member of the Manoa Faculty Senate where she serves on Committee for Academic and Policy Planning (CAPP) and the Hawaii, Asian, and Pacific (HAP) board.



Aumua Mata’itusi MA

rsz_1rsz_2unnamed‘Aumua Mata’itusi Simanu is a life-long educator and scholar of the Samoan Language and Culture.  She worked for the Department of Education in Samoa for 45 years.  Since 1987 she has been teaching Samoan Oratory and History at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.






Edward Danielson MA

imageboard-funnyLecturer in Samoan

First and second year courses





Nate Black MS

rsz_screen_shot_2013-12-10_at_201029Nate Black was a missionary in Samoa and American Samoa from 2001-2003. His recent ecclesiastical responsibilities included service in a local Oahu Samoan congregation from 2011-2012. He teaches second year Samoan language courses. He has an MS in Exercise Physiology from Brigham Young University and an MS in Nutritional Sciences from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. He is also a lecturer in the Department of Human Nutrition, Food and Animal Sciences.


John Pātū

imageboard-funny John Pātū, also known as “Niko”, was born in American Sāmoa and raised in the villages of Waipahu and Mililani (Hawai‘i). He did his undergraduate studies at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa and is currently completing his graduate degree with the Center for Pacific Island Studies. Niko teaches the second year level courses and coordinates the first- and second- year extra-hour lab and tutoring sessions.




Toso Fo’ifua BA


Toso Foifua graduated from the University of Hawaii with a B.A in ESL and Bilingual Studies with emphasis on Samoan through Interdisciplinary Studies.  Over a span of two years, he has been teaching Samoan language at the second and third year level, and is the primary instructor for the first and second year labs.  He is passionate about Samoan language and culture, and hopes to continue to share that passion with the students of UH Manoa through classroom instruction.






Peaario Temese

Screen Shot 2013-12-10 at 20.50.30Peaario Temese is the recruitment and retention specialist for the Samoan Program. She was born in Fagaalu, American Samoa; grew up in Ansbach, Germany most of her life; and graduated from Junction City High School. She is currently a freshman at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. She works closely with Professor Fata Simanu-Klutz in projects to inspire Polynesian students to further their education and reach their dreams by attending college.



Jacob ‘Jack’ Mayer III.  Student Assistant and program Web Master.   Born and raised in Honolulu (Maryknoll High School 2010).  Attended and played basketball for the University of La Vern from 2010-2013.  Majoring in Pacific Island Studies with a minor in Samoan.  Interests include sports, guitar (ini Samoa), Samoan language and culture, and Manono Island.