Fakaalofa lahi atu!
Congratulations to Dr Jess Pasisi on being awarded a FastStart Marsden grant worth $360,000, entitled “Mapping Niue texts in and beyond Aotearoa: Expanding on New Zealand Realm connections to Niue through archival texts.” Jess (Niuean (Mutalau, Hikutavake), Pākehā, Ngāti Pikiao, and Tahitian) is Te Tumu’s most recent academic hire and is based in our Pacific Islands Studies programme, and is already a promising researcher, having been awarded a Pacific Health Postdoctoral Fellowship by the Health Research Council to investigate Niuean happiness.
Jess started putting the Mapping Niue texts project together while still based at the University of Waikato, with Professor Alice Te Punga Somerville as Associate Investigator. Professor Somerville has also moved, and is now at the University of British Columbia. She is well versed in literary projects, and Jess worked as a researcher with her in the “Writing the New World” project.
Jess’s Marsden project will be uncovering and analysing Niuean texts – with the meaning of “texts” interpreted quite broadly, comprising publications, manuscripts and other tāoga – with the aim of making these more available to Niuean people in Aotearoa New Zealand, Niue, and beyond. This also involves collaborating with Niuean communities, including cross-disciplinary work with tufuga (experts, practitioners), and encouraging Niuean people to engage with their local archives.
Research outputs include a book based on the project’s research, and the creation of a dataset of Niuean texts which will be invaluable to the wider Niuean community, as well as incoming researchers. Jess is planning three workshops as part of the project, one at Otago, one in Niue, and one at an international venue. Aligning with the aims of Marsden Fund to help develop future scholars, the project will also fund a Masters thesis scholarship, as well as some undergraduate summer scholarships.
We wish Jess well with her exciting new research project, and for a long productive career in academia.
Please also check out the Marsden Fund article for more details on Jess’s research.
Image information. Jess Pasisi wrote the poem for ‘Ko e Higoa Haaku ko Hiapo’ and Cora-Allan Lafaiki Twiss, a tagata Niue artist and practitioner, made it into an art piece that was purchased by the Auckland Museum. To read the poem, see images of the artwork, and more information, click here.
Fakaalofa ahi atu!
On Wednesday 7 September, Te Tumu welcomed our newest staff member, Dr Jess Pasisi, who is of Niuean descent, as well as Pākehā, Ngāti Pikiao and Tahitian roots.
This was also an opportunity to welcome and acknowledge Maioha Watson (Ngāti Maniapoto) who has been doing an excellent job teaching MAOR308 this semester.
The pōwhiri followed tikanga Māori, but also incorporated Pacific elements as well, with Niuean speeches and a performance by our Pacific coordinator Telesia Kalavite alongside Tongan students, as well as Pacific food for the hākari. Special thanks must also go to Maioha, the kaikōrero for the manuhiri, Neihana Matiu who spoke for the tangata whenua, and Kare Tipa who had held waiata classes for staff, and who kept us to tikanga.
Jess is currently finishing off a Health Research Council funded postdoctoral studies on Niuean wellbeing and happiness that she started while at the University of Waikato. She also has research interests in climate change in the Pacific, and the Pacific countries that make up the New Zealand realm (Cook Islands, Niue and Tokelau).
Some Waikato postgraduate students and staff came with Jess to hand her over to Te Tumu. Dunedin-based people may well remember Marcelle Wharerau, who worked and studied in Te Tumu, gaining an MA in Indigenous Development. After the pōwhiri, these guests attended a ‘conversation’ organised by Dr Emma Powell, together with a number of Te Tumu staff. Everyone had some time to share their research and discuss some of their experiences within academia.
Te Tumu is very pleased to have Jess joining our Pacific Islands Studies team, and look forward to what she can bring us. Fakaaue lahi!