Pacific Studies research achievements

We start and encourage public discussion — as well as winning academic prizes and awards.

Pacific communities are discriminating, careful, thoughtful and expert audiences. Only the best work survives both the rigor of the academy and the rigor of our Pacific audiences.

Associate Professor Damon Salesa Pro Vice-Chancellor (Pacific)

Within our communities

  • As one of six panellists on the 2018 Mental Health and Addiction Inquiry, Dr Jemaima Tiatia-Seath had an important role in an in-depth government initiative that received over 5,500 submissions and held 425 meetings and fono on significant issues as she describes in this article. She is also a member of the Mental Health Foundation's Suicide Bereavement Service Advisory Group.
  • Jemaima was a Principal Investigator of Heilala Malu, a Tongan Framework for Suicide Prevention Resource (2017), funded by the Health Research Council and distilled into a pamphlet in both Tongan and English, and of Pacific Suicide Postvention: Supporting Pacific Communities.
  • Associate Professor Damon Salesa's book Island Time: New Zealand’s Pacific Futures (2017, Bridget Williams Books) has stirred up and informed a lot of public debate about the place and treatment — including segregation — of Pacific communities within New Zealand.
  • Dr Melani Anae co-edited the first record of the civil rights movement she helped to found: Polynesian Panthers: Pacific Protest and Affirmative Action in Aotearoa NZ 1971-1981 (2015, Huia Books), raising consciousness of important recent history.

Within academia

  • Dr Jemaima Tiatia-Seath has received numerous grants as Principal Investigator from the Health Research Council — New Zealand's premiere health research funding body — over a number of years, as well as an inaugural national project grant from Te Rā o te Waka Hourua, testament to the ongoing superb quality of her work in suicide prevention and mental health and wellbeing.
  • In recent years, both Dr Melani Anae and Associate Professor Damon Salesa have been awarded funding by the Marsden Fund, New Zealand's most prestigious and competitive 'blue sky' research fund.
  • With 2014 Marsden funding, Melani has been investigating how transnational matai (chiefs born outside of Samoa) maintain meaningful and sustainable ties to Samoan villages and peoples back in Samoa, as she describes in this article.
  • With 2013 Marsden funding, Damon has been researching 200 years of Samoan history.
  • Damon Salesa won the international Ernest Scott Prize for the "most distinguished written contribution to the history of Australia or New Zealand, or to the history of colonisation" in 2012 for his history Racial Crossings: Race, Intermarriage and the Victorian British Empire (2011, Oxford University Press).