Rev Dr Upolu Luma Vaai

Upolu Luma Vaai

Upolu Luma Vaai

Dr Vaai serves as Senior Lecture and Head of Department of Theology and Ethics at PTC.

At PTC since January 2014.

Prior to coming to PTC, Dr Vaai taught theology and ethics at Piula Theological College in Samoa in 2001 and from 2008–2013. He has previously worked as a board director for the government of Samoa and served in various committees in the Samoa Qualification Authority (SQA). He is an ordained minister of the Methodist Church in Samoa since 1999. He facilitates various ecumenical projects for the Pacific Conference of Churches, and also a member of the editorial board for The Pacific Journal of Theology. Dr. Vaai’s passion is in Pacific indigenous religious studies, relational hermeneutics, relational theology, and relational ethics.




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Educational Qualifications

  • CertTheol (St. John’s Trinity Theological College, Auckland, Aotearoa/New Zealand) 1994
  • DipTheol (Piula Theological College, Samoa) 1996
  • BD (Piula Theological College, Samoa) 2001
  • MTheolSt (Brisbane College of Theology, Australia 2004
  • PhD (Theology) (Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia) 2007

Research & Teaching Interests

  • Relational Hermeneutics
  • Trinitarian theology in Pacific perspective
  • Patristic fathers – Athanasius and the Cappadocians
  • Pacific Relational philosophy
  • Pacific epistemology
  • Interfaith dialogue



  1. Matua Gagana: Le Tusi Paia ma lona Faitauga Loloto mai le Itulagi o Samoa. Suva: LUMA Publishers, 2015.

Books Co-edited

  1. Whispers and Vanities: Samoan Indigenous Knowledge and Religion. Edited by Tamasailau Sualii-Sauni, Maualaivao Albert Wendt, Vitolia Mo’a, Naomi Fuamatu, Upolu Luma Vaai, Reina Whaitiri, Stephen L. Filipo. Wellington: Huia, 2014.

Book Chapters

  1. Vaatapalagi: De-Heavening Trinitarian Theology in the Islands.” In Colonial Contexts and Postcolonial Weaving: Storyweaving in the Asia-Pacific. Edited by Mark Brett and Jione Havea. New York: Palgrave McMillan, 2014.
  2. “The Prayer of a Faatosaga: Faaaloalo in Samoan Indigenous Religious Culture.” In Whispers and Vanities: Samoan Indigenous Religious Knowledge. Edited by Tamasailau Sualii, Auckland: Huia, 2014.
  3. Lotoivai ma le Siuvai: O le Fafine Mulilua i le Ioane 8:1-11.” In Le Faasoa. Samoa: Piula Theological College, 2014.
  4. Talanoa: Gifting the Future through Conversation with the Past.” In Culture, Custom, Religion and Spirituality. Apia: National University of Samoa, 2012
  5. Ulugalu ma Vaigalu: Embracing both the Wakes and the Gaps in our Academic Diving”. In Measina a Samoa. Volume 5. Apia: National University of Samoa, 2011.

Journal Articles

  1. “A Theology of Talalasi: Challenging the ‘One Truth’ Ideology of the Empire.” The Pacific Journal of Theology 54 (2015):1–19.
  2. Motu ma le Taula: Towards an Island ‘Let Be’ Hermeneutics.” The Pacific Journal of Theology 53 (2015).
  3. “Meeting at the Crossroads.” The Pacific Journal of Theology 53 (2015).
  4. “Church-State Covenant on the Environment.” The Pacific Journal of Theology 41 (2009):4-8.
  5. “A Theological Reflection on God’s Oikos (House) in Relation to the Samoan Context,” The Pacific Journal of Theology 16 (1996)

Online PhD Thesis

  1. Faaaloalo: A Theological Reinterpretation of the Doctrine of the Trinity from a Samoan Perspective. Brisbane: Griffith University, 2006
    Available online.

Courses taught at PTC


  • Triune God (BD)
  • Christology (BD)
  • Gospel and Culture (MTh)
  • Foundations of Theology (WP)
  • Theological Hermeneutics (MTh)
  • Foundations of Ethics (WP)
  • Theology of Disasters (BD)
  • Land and Eco-theology (MTh)