Course syllabus

SEMESTER 2, 2017
Course Information

Kia ora, Talofa lava, Malo e lelei, 

Ni sa bula vinaka, Namaste,

Kia orana, Taloha ni,

Ia orana, Fakaalofa lahi atu, 'Alii, Malo ni,

Halo Olaketa, Mauri, Aloha mai e and

warm Pacific Greetings.

  • Course Coordinator, Teacher, Tutor 
  • Prof Selina Tusitala Marsh
  • Course delivery format
  • 3 hours of lectures, discussions, field trips

(Timetable and room details can be viewed on Student Services Online)

Summary of Course Description              

  • Pacific Poetry holds the poetry and scholarship of Pacific peoples at its centre. Through the study of two major anthologies of Māori and Pacific writing, this course will:


  • Define and critically contextualize key terminology: ‘Indigenous’, ‘Oceanic’, ‘Pacific’, ‘Oceanic feminist’ ‘trans-indigenous’, ‘trans-cultural’, ‘Rhetorical Sovereignty’, ‘Aesthetic Sovereignty’ , ‘Diaspora’, ‘Identity Politics’, ‘Culture’, ‘Pacific Epistemology’, ‘Literary Decolonisation’, ‘Bi-languaging’.


  • Build upon key postcolonial concepts covered in ENGLISH 112 (Global Literatures), ENGLISH 204 (Pacific Literature) and compliment ENGLISH 702 (formerly ENGLISH 786 Postcolonial Literature). 



  • Identify key working metaphors in a select group of poets’ work and transform that metaphor into an aesthetic framework through which to read the work in order to reposition literary criticism from its Eurocentric bases and bias and address an Indigenous audience and readership.



  • Consider the politics of insider/outsider critical positioning.


  • Consider the role literature plays in reconfiguring the nature of cultural identities in the Pacific, especially literary challenges to colonial representations of identity in the Pacific.


  • Articulate the social, cultural, political and historical contexts of different genres within Pacific poetry and the central arguments surrounding its critical appreciation.


  • Close read a poem by identifying key literary and aesthetic techniques according to both indigenous and western literary traditions. 


  • Practice the Samoan concept of ‘Teu le Va’ by ‘adorning the space’ between poetry and people.     


  • This is a text-based class. The anthologies are used as a springboard from which to examine poet’s other works and collections. Timely field trips will extend the learning environment (pertinent Art Gallery exhibitions/poetry readings/community events).

Course Assessment



Mark Out Of



Due Date

















Course outcomes

By the end of this course you will be able to:


  • Identify key critical issues and scholarly works in the field of Indigenous and Oceanic Literary Studies.
  • Identify key postcolonial concepts relevant to the production and reception of Pacific Literature.
  • Identify instances of Indigenous Literary criticism and employ culturally-specific aesthetics and critical tools of literary appreciation.
  • Examine texts within an Indigenous and Oceanic feminist context.
  • Discuss the role literature plays in reconfiguring the nature of cultural identities in the Pacific, especially literary challenges to colonial representations of identity in the Pacific.
  • Articulate the social, cultural, political and historical contexts of different genres within Pacific poetry and the central arguments surrounding its critical appreciation.
  • Close read a poem by identifying key literary and aesthetic techniques according to both indigenous and western literary traditions.
  • Discuss the politics of publication and anthologizing in the Pacific.
  • Gain a nuanced understanding of the current states of de/colonisation in the Pacific from the perspective of its literature.
  • Consider the politics of insider/outsider critical positioning.


Weekly Topics

Each week you will be tasked with reading 7 poets from each anthology, alongside the set readings, and required to produce an A3 Mind Map of issues/concepts/aesthetic observations to share with the class the following week.  The aim is to discuss the set poems in relation to the set readings and to make our way as a group through both anthologies by the end of the course.  We will be constructing a collective, accretive mind map of the issues, themes, and techniques for each anthology.  This broad overview will enable constructive discussion about poetic movements in Aotearoa and the Pacific.

The following schedule of topics is indicative and dependent upon class dynamics, focus and event availability.

 All readings fully cited below

Week 1


Postcolonial Pacific Literature: Shifting Epistemologies and Ways of Reading

  1. Neil Lazarus, ‘Indicative Chronology’ [e-text available through library]
  2. Frances Koya Vaka'uta, 'Research as Relational Space' [PPT under Files]

Week 2

PWK: Apirana Ngata-Blank

WM: Ae'a-Barford


The Development of Pacific Literary Criticism

  1. Selina Tusitala Marsh, 'Nafanua and the Niu World' [under Files]
  2. Michele Keown, 'Intro', Pacific Islands Writing

Week 3

PWK: Marino Blank-Cruickshank

WM: Bichard-Campbell


Shifting Paradigms

  1. Konai Thaman, ‘Decolonizing Pacific Studies’
  2. Intro, Huihui: Navigating Art and Literature in the Pacific
  3. Vilsoni Hereniko, 'Four Writers and One Critic'

Week 4

PWK: Dansey-George

WM: Carter-Fanua


Class: Theatre attendance: Fa'aafa: Basement Theatre 8pm (Tues 15 Aug)

  1. Tusiata Avia, 'Apology', Fale Aitu

Week 5

PWK: Glover-Ihimaera

WM: Figiel-ho'omanawanui


Indigenous theoretical wranglings and acts of decolonization

  1. Vilsoni Hereniko, 'Indigenous Knowledge and Academic Imperialism'
  2. Chadwick Allen, Intro, TransIndigenous: Methodologies for Global Native Literary Studies


Week 6


WM: Kalahele-Kneubuhl


Language  and Spoken Word Poetry

  1. Juliana Spahr, 'Connected Disconnection'
  2. Rewa Palliser Worley, Intro, ‘Speak the words ki au nei’



Week 7

PWK: Mataira-Murray

WM: Landgraf-Maiava


Oceanic Feminisms - Mana Wahine and other indigenizing feminisms

  1. Ngahuia Te Awekotuku, Intro, Mana Wahine
  2. Lisa Kahaleole Hall, 'Navigating Our Own 'Sea of Islands''

Week 8

PWK: Nehua-Piahana-Wong

WM: Tusitala Marsh-Passion


Indigenous Epistemology

  1. David Gegeo and Karen Watson-Gegeo.  ''How We Know''
  2. Max Quanchi, 'Indigenous Epistemology, Wisdom and Tradition'

Week 9

PWK: Potiki-Rolleston

WM: Perez-Wendt-Poole


Close Up Study: The first Pacific Woman Poet, Konai Helu Thaman

1.     Sina Va’ai, ‘Kakala’

2.     Select collections from Thaman

Week 10

PWK: Scarborough-Sullivan

WM: Potiki-Raymond


Textual Decolonisation

Stuart Hall, 'Cultural Identity and Diaspora'

Children of Migration (Doco)

Week 11

PWK: Tamaiparea-Tocker

WM: von Reiche-Sturm


Insider/Outsider Reading Positions

Sandra Tawaka, 'Transforming Insider/Outsider Positioning'

Haunani-Kay Trask, 'Writing in Captivity'

Week 12

PWK: Tuwhare-Worley


Writing – a Vehicle for Voice

Keown, 'Conclusion', Pacific Islands Writing


Prescribed Texts:

  •  Mauri Ola: Contemporary Polynesian Poets in English, eds, Albert Wendt, Reina Whaitiri and Robert Sullivan (Auckland: AUP, 2010).


  • Puna Wai Korero: An Anthology of Maori Poetry in English, eds, Reina Whaitiri and Robert Sullivan (Auckland: AUP, 2014).


Recommended Texts:


The anthologies are designed to be gateways into the world of Pacific poetry.  They offer a broad coverage of contemporary poets and many of the poets found therein have other collections of poetry that you are welcome to study and use for assessment.  A small selection of these include (in no order):


Wild Dogs Under My Skirt by Tusiata Avia, Wellington, N.Z.: Victoria University Press, 2009.

Bloodclot by Tusiata Avia, Wellington, N.Z.: Victoria University Press, 2009.

Fale Aitu by Tusiata Avia, Wellington, N.Z.: Victoria University Press, 2016.

A Well Written Body by Karlo Mila; with paintings by Delicia Sampero, Wellington, N.Z.: Huia, 2008.

Dream Fish Floating by Karlo Mila, Wellington, N.Z.: Huia, 2005.

Somethingworthreading? South Auckland Poets Collective. Auckland: SAPC, 2011.

Night Swimming by Kiri Piahana-Wong, New Zealand: Anahera Press, 2013.

Afakasi Speaks by Grace Teuila Taylor, Honolulu: Ala Press, 2013.

Captain Cook in the underworld [electronic resource] by Robert Sullivan, Auckland, N.Z. : Auckland University Press, 2002.

Star Waka by Robert Sullivan, Auckland, N.Z. : Auckland University Press.

Brown Girls in Bright Red Lipstick by Courtney Sina Meredith

Threads of Tivaevae: Kaleidoskope of Kolours by Audrey Brown and Veronica Vaevae

The Art of Excavation by Leilani Tamu

Islands and Passages by Audrey Pereira Brown

Entangled Islands by Serie Barford

Tales, Poems and Songs From The Underwater World by Daren Kamali, DJ Kamali: Auckland, NZ. 2011.

---. Squid Out Of Water: The Evolution.  Honolulu, Hawai’i: Ala Press. 2014.

A Drag Queen named Pipi and other poems by Dan Taulapapa McMullin, Kaneohi, HI: Tinfish Press, 2004. 

---. Coconut Milk. Tucson: The University of Arizona Press. 2013. 



Pasifika Poetry Web,

Blackmail Press Website,, hosted by Doug Poole


New Zealand Poetry Shelf,



Select live poetry performances and relevant exhibitions



Selected Recommended Books & Articles


Pacific Literary Criticism

Allen, Chadwick. TransIndigenous: Methodologies for Global Native Literary Studies, Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press, 2012.

Battista, Jon. 2004. ‘Me he korokoro kōmako / With the throat of a bellbird: a Māori aesthetic in Māori writing in English.’ PhD Thesis. U of Auckland, Print.

Carroll, Jeffrey, Brandy Nalani McDougall, Georganne Nordstrom, eds. Huihui: Navigating Art and Literature in the Pacific. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2015.

Hereniko, Vilsoni. 'Four Writers and Once Critic', Inside Out: Literature, Cultural Politics, and Identity in the New Pacific. Hereniko and Rob Wilson. Eds. Maryland: Rowman and Littlefield, 1999.

ho’omanawanui, ku’ualoha. 2005.  ‘He Lei Ho‘oheno no nā Kau a Kau: Language, Performance, and Form in Hawaiian Poetry.’ The Contemporary Pacific 17.1: 29-81. Print.

ho’omanawanui, ku’ualoha, ‘Ho’ohuihui: Navigating the Pacific Through Words’, Huihui: Navigating Art and Literature in the Pacific. Eds. Carroll, Jeffrey, Brandy Nalani McDougall, Georganne Nordstrom, Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1-13.

Keown,  Michelle. Pacific Islands Writing: The Postcolonial Literatures of Aotearoa/New Zealand and Oceania. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2007.

Lazarus, Neil. ‘Indicative Chronology’, [helpful chart of world events in relation to literary production] The Cambridge companion to Postcolonial Literary Studies, ed. by Neil Lazarus (Cambridge: CUP, 2004) [e-text available through library]

Marsh, Selina Tusitala. 'Nafanua and the Niu World', A History of New Zealand Literature, ed. by Mark Williams, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016. [avail online via library]

Marsh, Selina Tusitala. 2012. ‘Pasifika Poetry on the Move: Staging Polynation.’ Cultural Crossings: Negotiating Identities in Francophone and Anglophone Pacific Literatures. Ed. Raylene Ramsay . Brussels: Peter Lang, 197–216. Print.

McDougall, Brandy Nālani.  2011.  ‛O ka lipo o ka lā, ‛o ka lipo o ka pō: Cosmogonic Kaona in Contemporary Kanaka Maoli Literature. Diss. U of Hawai‛i at Mānoa. Print.

Najita, Susan Y. Decolonizing Cultures in the Pacific: Reading History and Trauma in Contemporary Fiction. Routledge Research in Postcolonial Literatures 14. New York, NY: Taylor & Francis, 2006.

Subramani. South Pacific Literature: From Myth to Fabulation.  Suva: U of the South Pacific, 1985.

Sullivan, Robert.  2006. ‘Savaiki Regained: Alistair Te Ariki Campbell’s Poetics’. M.A. Hons. Thesis. U. of  Auckland. Print.

---. 2015.  Mana Moana: Wayfinding Five Poets. PhD, University of Auckland.

Tawake, Sandra. “Transforming the Insider-Outsider Perspective: Postcolonial Fiction from the Pacific” The Contemporary Pacific 12.1 (2000) 155-175

Te Punga Somerville, Alice. Once Were Pacific: Maori Connections to Oceania.  Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2012.

Va`ai, Sina. Literary Representations in Western Polynesia: Colonialism and Indigeneity.. Samoa: National University of Samoa, 1999. 


Postcolonial Theory, Concepts, Ideas

Ashcroft, Bill, Gareth Griffiths, Helen Tiffin, Key Concepts in Post-colonial Studies (New York: Routledge, 2001) [e-text available through library]

Ashcroft, Bill, Gareth Griffiths, Helen Tiffin.  Eds. The Post-colonial Studies Reader. Abingdon, Oxford; New York: Routledge, 2006. 2nd ed.

Ashcroft, Bill, Gareth Griffiths and Helen Tiffin.   The Empire Writes Back: Theory and Practice in Post-Colonial Literatures. London and New York: Routledge, 1989.

Clifford, James. 1994.  ‘Diasporas.’ Cultural Anthropology. Vol. 9, No. 3, Further Inflections: Toward Ethnographies of the Future (Aug.,) pp. 302-338.

---. 1997.  Routes: Travel and Transculturation in the Late Twentieth Century. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Hall, Stuart. ‘Cultural Identity and Diaspora.’ Johnathan Rutherford, ed., Identity: Community, Culture, Difference. London: Lawrence & Wishart, 1990, 223-237.

Hau’ofa, Epeli. ‘Our Sea of Islands’, We are the Ocean: Selected Works. Honolulu : University of Hawaii Press, 2008.

Hereniko, Vilsoni. “Indigenous Knowledge and Academic Imperialism.” In R Borofsky (Ed.), Remembrance of Pacific Pasts: An Invitation to Remake History. (p. 78-91). Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2000.

Innes, Catherine. The Cambridge Introduction to Postcolonial Literatures in English. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007. 

Subramani.  2001. ‘The Oceanic Imaginary.’ The Contemporary Pacific 13.1: 149-162. Print.

Subramani. ‘The Diasporic Imagination’, Navigating Islands and Continents: Conversations and Contestations in and around the Pacific. Eds Cynthia Franklin, Ruth Hsu, and Suzanne Kosanke.   Honolulu : College of Languages, Linguistics and Literature, University of Hawai’i and the East-West Center : Distributed by University of Hawai’i Press, 2000.



Gingell, Susan and Wendy Roy (eds), Listening Up, Writing Down, and Looking Beyond: Interfaces of the Oral, Written, and Visual. Ontario: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2013.

Palliser Worley, Rewa. ‘Speak the words ki au nei : the intersection between spoken Word Poetry and Public Health’, MPH University of Auckland, 2015.

Somers-Willett, Susan B.A. Cultural Politics of Slam Poetry: Race, Identity, and the Performance of Popular Verse in America.  Michigan: University of Michigan Press, 2009.

Spahr, Juliana. 'Connected Disconnection and Localized Globalism in Pacific Multilingual Literature’, boundary 2,  31.3, Fall 2004, pp. 75-100.

Thomas, Brooke. The diglossic text as postcolonial strategy in the work of Samoan writer Sia Figiel; Proceedings of the University of Melbourne School of Languages Postgraduate Conference 2002. University of Melbourne, Melbourne, 2002: 71-90.


Pacific Studies: Frameworks & Knowledge Systems

Gegeo, David and Karen Watson-Gegeo.  ““How We Know”: Kwara`ae Rural Villagers Dong Indigenous Epistemology.” The Contemporary Pacific, 13:1, 2001, 55-88.

Hereniko, V. “Representation of Cultural Identities.” In Tides of History: The Pacific Islands in the Twentieth Century, Howe, K. R et al. (eds.), 1994,  NSW: Allen & Unwin Pty Ltd.

Prasad, Mohit. Ed. Dreadlocks Vaka Vuku : Special Issue : Proceedings of the Pacific Epistemologies Conference, 2006, Pacific Epistemologies Conference (2006 : Fiji, Suva)

Quanchi, Max. “Indigenous Epistemology, Wisdom and Tradition; Changing and Challenging Dominant Paradigms in Oceania” Conference Paper.  Social Change in the 21st Century, Centre for Social Change Research, Queensland University of Technology, 29 October 2004.

Tamasailau Suaalii-Sauni, Maualaivao Albert Wendt, Vitolia Mo'a, Naomi Fuamatu, Upolu Luma Va'ai, Reina Whaitiri, Stephen L. Filipo. 2014.  Whispers and Vanities : Samoan Indigenous Knowledge and Religion. Wellington: Huia Publishers.

Teaiwa, Teresia and Sean Mallon. 2005. ‘Ambivalent Kinships: Pacific Peoples in New Zealand.’ New Zealand Identities: Departures and destination.  Wellington: Victoria University Press, 207-229. 

Thaman, Konai Helu. ‘Decolonizing Pacific Studies: Indigenous Perspectives, Knowledge, and Wisdom in Higher Education.’ The Contemporary Pacific, 2003, Vol.15(1), pp.1-17.

Tuhiwai Smith, Linda. Decolonising Research Methodologies.  London; New York: Zed Books, 2012, 2nd ed.


Trask,  Haunani Kay. “Introduction”. From a Native Daughter: Colonialism and Sovereignty in Hawai`i. Monroe, Maine: Common Courage Press, 1993.


Indigenous Feminisms

Deepika Bahri, ‘Feminism in/and Postcolonialism’, The Cambridge Companion to Postcolonial Literary Studies, ed. by Neil Lazarus (Cambridge: CUP, 2004), pp. 199-220 [e-text available through library]

Jones, Alison, Phyllis Herda and Tamasailau M. Suaalii, Bitter Sweet: Indigenous Women in the Pacific, 2000.

Hall, Lisa Kahaleole. 'Navigating Our Own 'Sea of Islands': Remapping a Theoretical Space for Hawaiian Women and Indigenous Feminism', 2009.

Marsh, Selina Tusitala. “Theory “versus” Pacific Islands Writing: Toward a Tama`ita`i Criticism in the Works of Three Pacific Islands Woman Poets.” Eds. Vilsoni Hereniko and Rob Wilson. Inside Out: Literature, Cultural Politics, and Identity in the New Pacific. Maryland: Rowman and Littlefield, 1999, 337-356.

O’Brien, Patricia, ‘From the 1890s to the Present’, The Pacific Muse: Exotic Femininity and the Colonial Pacific, University of Washington Press, 2006, 213-262.

Te Awekotuku, Ngahuia. Mana wahine Maori : selected writings on Maori women's art, culture and politics, Auckland, N.Z. : New Women's Press 1991.

Yee,  Jennifer. ‘Ways of Knowing, Feeling, Being, and Doing: Toward an Asian American and Pacific Islander Feminist Epistemology’. Amerasia Journal: 2009, Vol. 35, No. 2, pp. 49-64.

Poetry (General)

Green, Paula and Harry Ricketts.  2010.  99 Ways Into New Zealand poetry. Auckland, N.Z.: Vintage.      



The University of Auckland's expectation on 30-point courses, is that students spend 20 hours per week on the course. Students manage their academic workload and other commitments accordingly. Students attend three hours of lectures/discussions/field trips. This leaves 17 hours per week outside the classroom to prepare for class discussions and assignments.

Deadlines and submission of coursework:

Deadlines for coursework are non-negotiable. In extreme circumstances, such as illness, you may seek an extension but you will be required to provide a doctor's certificate before the assignment is due. All late assignments without a pre-approved extension will be penalised one mark per day late.



(SEM 2, 2017)



CLOSE READING ANALYSIS (20%): A 2,000 word close reading of a poem not discussed in depth in class.   You will not be able to use this poem in your essay, but it will be used in the ‘Teu le Va’ component. The analysis enables you to practice getting to the ‘nuts and bolts’ of poetry technique, style and tone alongside exploration of the poem’s key concepts.


SEMINAR (20%): ‘Teu le Va’ – Adorning the space between poem and people (plus a 500 word write up).


Using the poem chosen for the analysis, select a central concept/theme and ‘adorn’ the space between the poem and the wider community. This component aims to get you to think about the knowledge you’ve produced in a university environment and to share it with the wider community in order to create relationships with the poem beyond the confines of the classroom and in accordance with proposed Indigenous and Pacific Research Methodologies. It aims to get you engaging with your critical material performatively and creatively and to think about how you might disseminate your ideas about the poem to a broader audience/readership in order to raise awareness of Pacific Poetry.


You will be marked on two components (10 marks each):


  1. Adornment: How well you’ve performatively and creatively manifest a central concept of the poem. You will need to provide a record of your ‘adornment’ (photos, recordings, planning sheets, concrete objects, film, etc)


  1. Relationality: How well you’ve disseminated your insights and created relationships between the poem and people. Consider how you’ll capture/record evidence of this relationship (written, filmed or recorded responses, material engagement, feedback response forms, etc). Record any changes in your own relationship with the poem as you develop and carry out this project.


Be led by the poem and your own imaginative, creative leanings in how you might do this. Consider the poem’s content and aesthetics. You might take it literally or metaphorically. You will no doubt disseminate the poem in some form. The more responses you gather, the richer your insights.


In your seminar (20 min) you will present your creative manifestation and findings to the class. These seminars will vary greatly. Some ideas include:


  • a significant online entry (forming or adding to a Wikipedia page)
  • a multimedia response (a sculpture, painting, handmade chapbook etc) with public feedback/response
  • a public performance of some sort (spoken word poem, theatrical piece, dance; poetry released in helium balloons; traffic light demonstration) with public response
  • a public display of the poem (poster poem, graffiti, questionnaire, filmic version, etc) with public response
  • an original song/composition with public response
  • a letter to the Editor with public response


After your presentation there will be a question and answer time with the class.


ESSAY: One 7,000 word essay worth 60% of your mark. This is due in hardcopy and via Canvas by 3pm at Arts 1 Reception, Level 3 at the end of Week 12, 27 October. This significant piece of writing will demonstrate your knowledge of a selected poet/s and their work, and the application of relevant concepts and ideas central to the study of Pacific literature. Draw knowledgably and reflexively on secondary sources from Postcolonial theory, Pacific Studies, and Indigenous and Oceanic Literary Studies. To focus your essay, it must


  • Identify a key working metaphor in the work of one poet (if they have collections of poetry) or two poets (with no collections) drawing on 2-4 poems
  • Reflexively transform that metaphor into a literary critical tool to culturally, politically and aesthetically deepen our appreciation of the works


The essay ‘topic’ and the formation of its argument will be up to you. It is an opportunity to pursue an idea or issues that stem from your own interests. Once you’ve decided on a topic, you will be required to devise a mind map of the essay’s argument, a working bibliography and discuss it with me. This will be due for discussion in Week 8.


All essays should:


  • Position yourself in relation to this field of research;
  • Contextualize the poet/s in the field of Pacific Literature, ie, are they first generation, New Zealand-born poets part of the second wave of Pacific Literature firmly entrenched in a “Pasifika” identity politics? Or are they second generation diasporic Hawaiian poets living in California dealing with cultural loss and globalization?
  • Discuss the poet/s general themes and favoured techniques (evident from reading the poet’s other works);
  • Select 2-4 poems that demonstrate a key working metaphor (these may or may not be in the anthologies);
  • Identify and explicate on that key working metaphor and how it offers a culturally infused way of appreciating and opening up the poem;
  • Draw on relevant critical readings to enhance your close readings of selected poems in order to demonstrate how this key metaphor works as a literary framework;
  • Include a Works Cited page with full bibliography (your choice of Style Guide, just be consistent). Be sure to reference all sources. You will not need to repeat reference the poem/s (nor reference line numbers if you do not wish to do so) after first citation of its source. You will not need to reproduce the poem in its entirety.









Course summary:

Date Details