Once Were Pacific: Maori Connections to Oceania by Alice Te Punga SomervilleOnce Were Pacific: Maori Connections to Oceania by Alice Te Punga Somerville

Once Were Pacific: Maori Connections to Oceania

byAlice Te Punga Somerville

Paperback | April 11, 2012

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Native identity is usually associated with a particular place. But what if that place is the ocean? Once Were Pacific explores this question as it considers how Māori and other Pacific peoples frame their connection to the ocean, to New Zealand, and to each other through various creative works. Māori scholar Alice Te Punga Somerville shows how and when Māori and other Pacific peoples articulate their ancestral history as migratory seafarers, drawing their identity not only from land but also from water.

Although Māori are ethnically Polynesian, and Aotearoa New Zealand is clearly a part of the Pacific region, in New Zealand the terms “Māori” and “Pacific” are colloquially applied to two distinct communities: Māori are Indigenous, and “Pacific” refers to migrant communities from elsewhere in the region. Asking how this distinction might blur historical and contemporary connections, Te Punga Somerville interrogates the relationship between indigeneity, migration, and diaspora, focusing on texts: poetry, fiction, theater, film, and music, viewed alongside historical instances of performance, journalism, and scholarship.

In this sustained treatment of the Māori diaspora, Te Punga Somerville provides the first critical analysis of relationships between Indigenous and migrant communities in New Zealand.

Alice Te Punga Somerville (Te Ātiawa) is senior lecturer at Victoria University of Wellington, where she teaches Māori, Pacific, and Indigenous writing in English.
Title:Once Were Pacific: Maori Connections to OceaniaFormat:PaperbackDimensions:288 pages, 8.5 × 5.5 × 0.8 inPublished:April 11, 2012Publisher:University of Minnesota PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0816677573

ISBN - 13:9780816677573

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Table of Contents


Ngā Mihi: Acknowledgments
Introduction: Māori and the Pacific

Part I. Tapa: Aotearoa in the Pacific Region
1. Māori People in Pacific Spaces
2. Pacific-Based Māori Writers
3. Aotearoa-Based Māori Writers
The Realm of Tapa

Part II. Koura: The Pacific in Aotearoa
4. Māori–Pasifika Collaborations
5. “It’s like that with us Maoris”: Māori Write Connections
6. Manuhiri, Fānau: Pasifika Write Connections
7. When Romeo Met Tusi: Disconnections
The Realm of Koura

Conclusion: E Kore Au e Ngaro
Epilogue: A Time and a Place

Publication History

Editorial Reviews

"Alice Te Punga Somverville has writtem a scintillating text that explores the relationship between Maori and our Pacific forebears... "—Ella Henry, Interface"Critical yet imaginative, formalist, and specifically indigenist, the analyses throughout this work are informative, entertaining, and engaging. Ultimately, Once Were Pacific explores works and spaces never before addressed critically."—College Literature"Alice Te Punga Somerville has contributed an outstanding and challenging text to contemporary literary studies in Aotearoa and beyond. With new readings of existing texts, Once Were Pacific offers an impressive depth of analysis about the trade in cultural identity that has evolved in the Polynesian world. This book should be read repeatedly for the insights and understandings the author has carefully presented in its pages."—Journal of New Zealand Literature"Concerned with webs of connections and disconnections across a life as migrants, Once Were Pacific is a literary study of Maori writers writing in English in and across an ocean of islands."—American Quarterly