Department of Indigenous Studies

Dr Alice Te Punga Somerville

Phone: +61 (0)2 9850 9916
Fax: +61 (0)2 9850 7735
Office: W3A 402


  • PhD in English; graduate minor in American Indian Studies - Cornell University
  • MA (1st class hons) in English - University of Auckland


He uri ahau o Te Ātiawa. Dr Alice Te Punga Somerville's people are from Taranaki and Wellington in New Zealand. Born in Wellington, Alice was raised in Auckland and lived in the United States for five years in order to pursue doctoral studies. After teaching Māori, Pacific and Indigenous Literatures in English at Victoria University of Wellington (New Zealand) for several years, Alice moved to the University of Hawai'i- Mānoa to take up a position as Associate Professor of Pacific Literatures. Alice is at Macquarie for an 18 month fixed term position until December 2015.

Dr Te Punga Somerville's first book, Once Were Pacific: Māori Connections to Oceania (Minnesota) was published in 2012 and she is working on two book projects at present: Kānohi ki te kānohi: Indigenous-Indigenous Encounters and Ghost Writers: the Māori books you've never read. Alice also writes the occasional poem.

At its heart Alice's research is about locating, contextualizing, and analyzing texts written by Māori, Pacific and Indigenous people. Dr Te Punga Somerville's work is underpinned by her belief that (Māori, Pacific and/ or Indigenous peoples) are constrained when the stories about them are limited. In Alice's scholarship, she therefore focus on written texts as evidence, sites and foundations of stories that are far more complex than those that are told about us by other people or even those that are generally told by ourselves. Dr Te Punga Somerville's MA (Auckland) and PhD (Cornell) focused on the written literatures of her own Māori community, and as she deliberately sought broader contexts for exploring this writing she developed a twin interest and expertise in Indigenous and Pacific studies.

Dr Te Punga Somerville has served on the executive of Te Pouhere Kōrero (Māori historians association) and the foundation council for NAISA (Native American and Indigenous Studies Assoc), and have co-chaired SPACLALS (South Pacific Association for Commonwealth Language and Literary Studies). Alice is on the editorial boards of Native American and Indigenous Studies, American Quarterly and The Contemporary Pacific.



Once Were Pacific: Maori connections with Oceania. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2012. 266pp.

Once Were Pacific considers how Māori and other Pacific peoples frame their connection to the ocean, to New Zealand, and to each other through various creative works. In this sustained treatment of the Māori diaspora, Māori scholar Alice Te Punga Somerville provides the first critical analysis of relationships between Indigenous and migrant communities in New Zealand.

Refereed journal articles

  • [forthcoming] "Living on New Zealand St: Maori presence in Parramatta." Ethnohistory. [60(4)]
  • "'My word shall not come back void:' Pastor Hamuera Te Punga, multilingualism, and the archive." Journal of Friends of Lutheran Archives. (Adelaide) 23. 2013: 19-26.
  • Co-authored with Paul Meredith. "Kia rongo mai ki taku whakaaro: The Native Voice in the Turnbull Library." The Turnbull Library record. 2010/1: 96-105.
  • "Maori Cowboys, Maori Indians." American Quarterly. 62 (3). 2010: 663-685.
  • "Not Emailing Albert: a priceless legacy of collection, connection, community." The Contemporary Pacific. 22 (2). 2010: 253-270.
  • "The Historian Who Lost his Memory: A Story about Stories." Te Pouhere Korero 3. 2009: 63-82.
  • "I can hear you making small holes in the silence, Hone." Ka Mate Ka Ora: Hone Tuwhare Memorial Issue. 6. 2008: np/online.
  • "The Lingering War Captain: Maori Texts, Indigenous Contexts." Journal of New Zealand Literature. 24 (2). 2007: 20-42.
  • "He korero e pa ana ki te toa takitini." New Zealand Journal of Media Studies. 10 (2). 2007 : 31-36.
  • "Le Gauguin ne va pas te distraire, j'espère? les littératures maori et pasifika d'expression anglaise." Europe, no 931-32. nov-déc 2006: 44-61. 
  • "In the (Brown) Neighbourhood: An Aotearoa-based Oceania." SPAN 54/55. Apr & Oct 2005: 68-75.

Book chapters

  • [forthcoming] "The Great Pacific Garbage Patch as Metaphor: the (American) Pacific you can't see." American Archipelagoes. Eds Brian Roberts & Michelle Stephens. Durham: Duke University Press. [2015]
  • [forthcoming]    "Nau mai, hoki maki: Approaching the ancestral house." Huihui: Rhetorics and Aesthetics of the Pacific. Eds Brandy Nalani McDougall, Georganne Nordstrom, Jeff Carroll. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press. [Nov 2014.]
  • "Reading 'Parade' in the twenty first century." Covering 'Parade.' Wellington: Wai-te-ata Press, 2012: 11-18.
  • "Our Sea of Anthologies: collection, display, and the deep blue sea." Cultural Crossings: Negotiating Identities in Francophone and Anglophone Pacific Literatures/ A la croisée des cultures : de la négociation des identités dans les littératures francophones et anglophones du Pacifique. Ed Raylene Ramsay. Brussels: PIE Peter Lang, 2010: 217-234.
  • "My poetry is a fire:' Wineera and Sullivan writing fire from Hawai'i." Indigenous Identity and Resistance: Exploring the Diversity of Knowledge. Eds Brendan Hokowhitu et al. Dunedin: University of Otago Press, 2010: 37-54.
  • "I belong to that stock: Te Rangihiroa's application for US citizenship." The Racial Politics of Bodies, Nations & Knowledges. Eds Barbara Baird & Damien Riggs. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Press, 2009: 211-227.
  • "Asking that mountain: an Indigenous reading of LOTR?." Studying the Film-Event: The Lord of the Rings. Eds Sean Cubitt, Thierry Jutel, Barry King & Harriet Margolis. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2008: 249-258.
  • "Poetic Justice: Writing (as) the Struggle." Terror in Our Midst? Searching for Terror in Aotearoa New Zealand. Ed. Danny Keenan. Wellington: Huia, 2008: 223-237.
  • "If I close my mouth I will die: Writing, Resisting, Centring." Globalisation and Maori. Ed. Maria Bargh. Wellington: Huia Publishers, 2007: 85-111.
  • "Waharoa: Maori-Pakeha Writing in Aotearoa/ New Zealand." Mixed Race Literature. Ed. Brennan, J. Palo Alto: Stanford University Press, 2002: 200-223.

Conference Proceedings

  • "Neither qualitative nor quantitative: Kaupapa Maori, methodologies, and the Humanities." Kei Tua o te Pai: The Challenges of Kaupapa Maori Research in the 21st century. Eds Jessica Jutchings, Helen Potter, Katrina Taupo. Wellington: NZ Council for Educational Research, 2001: 62-66.

Co-edited special issue of journal

  • SPAN 62. 2009. [SPACLALS Pacific Lit Journal.]
    With Selina Tusitala Marsh.
  • Te Pouhere Korero 3 (2009)  4 (2010) 5 (2011) & 6 (2012). [Journal of the Assoc of Maori Historians.] With Aroha Harris.
  • JNZL Special Issue: Comparative Approaches to Indigenous Literary Studies. 24(2) 2007.
    With Chadwick Allen and Alex Calder.

Conference Papers, invited talks and keynotes (2005-)


  • "Under the radar: Indigenous archives past and present." Native American Studies Programme Seminar, University of Buffalo.
  • "Indigenous currency: non-Indigenous Indigenes and the art of being a guest." Courting Blakness: Recalibrating Knowledge in the Sandstone University. University of Queensland.
  • "Indigenous child/ on foreign shores:" the roots of Maori writing in Australia." Association for the Study of Australian Literature. University of Sydney.
  • "Inside Us the Unborn: genealogies, futures, metaphors, and the opposite of zombies." Pacific Futures Symposium. Otago.
  •  "Off the Record: the ghost canon of Māori literature." ACLA (American Comparative Literature Association). NYC.


  • "Matiu/Somes: What are you doing on my island?" ʻAina Forum, UHM.
  • "'Who am I to extol Tupaia?' Tahitian Voices in a Maori project about the Pacific." Pacific Connections Seminar Series (CPIS UHM/ UPF) and Centre for Biography joint seminar.
  • "Off the Record: The Archival Weight of Unpublished Maori Poetry (Oh, and scholarship)." NAISA. Saskatoon. June.


  • "Feminism that isn't screechy: talking about gender amongst our (Indigenous) selves." Keynote, Indigenous Studies Women's Day Event, McMaster University.
  • "Not the 'Study Abroad' You Had in Mind: Maori Students and Scholars in English, Australia and the US 1816-1951." History Department, University of British Columbia.
  • "I ain't afraid of no ghost: women who haunt Maori literary history." Women's Studies Colloquium, Washington & Lee.
  • "Not the First Encounters You Had in Mind." Faculty of Native Studies, University of Alberta.
  • "Exchange Students: Maori students and scholars in Parramatta (1816), London (1818), Illinois (1906) and New Haven (1951)." Deparment of American Indian Studies, University of Minnesota.
  • "Reach across an Ocean to find the right words." Keynote, CACLALS (Canadian Assoc for Language and Literary Studies) conference, Waterloo ON.
  • "What we need is a great big chop suey pot: Maori people, Pasifika food, and alternative histories of urban New Zealand." Pacific History Association. Wellington.
  •  "Ka tuhia e ahau tetahi pukapuka ki a koe: Writers in the family." NAISA. Mohegan [Connecticut].


  • (with Dr Rick Monture) "Home  and Away: 21st century Indigenous perspectives on 18th century Indigneous portraits." McMaster University Museum.
  • "Neither qualitative no quantitative: Kaupapa Maori, methodology, and the humanities." Kei Tua o te Pae: Kaupapa Maori NZCER (NZ Council for Educational Research) Conference. Wellington.
  • "Our Sea of Writers: Pacific poetry and the possibilities of precedent." ASAP (Assoc for the Study of Arts of the Present) Conference. Pittsburgh.
  •  "Living on New Zealand St: Maori presence in Parramatta." Ethnohistory. Los Angeles.
  •  "The Maori Books You've Never Read." 9th International Conference on the Book. Toronto.
  •  "They're writing our books here: early Maori writers in Paramatta, London and Hawai'i." NAISA. Sacramento.


  • "'I hope you write me a few lines:' Mowhee and Teeterree write in London." University of Auckland History Department Seminar Series.
  • "Living on New Zealand St: Mowhee, Teeterree, Kooley". Manurere: Travelling Maori Symposium. VUW.
  • 2010   "Of strokes, waka and ocean voyages: Pacific Literature on the move." ACLALS Triennial Conference. Cyprus.
  • 2010   "Manuhiritanga: Indigenous guests in Indigenous spaces." Native American and Indigenous Studies Association. Tucson.


  • "In Defence of Place." Warawara Department of Indigenous Studies Macquarie University. 
  • "Education Week." Invited roundtable discussion, 'Engaging with Indigenous Knowledges Across Disciplines in Teaching and research.' English, Media Studies & Art History Department, University of Queensland.
  • "'Reaching among comments for names:' Maori writing in Sydney." Macquarie University English Dept Seminar Series.
  • "Histories in Maori Places." NZHA.  Massey University, Palmerston North.
  • "How can we be Natives if we can't be friends?" Native American and Indigenous Studies Association. Uni of Minnesota.


  • "Perhaps the World Ends Here." Keynote dinner speaker. Critical Thoughts Conference. Wellington.
  • "Maori Literary Nationalism." Keynote panel with Albert Wendt & Te Ahukaramu Charles Royal. National Maori Writers Hui. Wellington.
  • "Keynote conversation: Maori write the Museum." Indigenous Literatures and Other Arts: A Symposium and Workshop. University of Oregon.
  • "Holding Back Ocean Barriers: Maori, the state, and the deep blue sea." Pacific History Association. University of the South Pacific/ PTC.
  • "'Our Sea of Anthologies: collection, display, and the deep blue sea."
    Cultural Crossings: Negotiating Identities in Francophone and Anglophone Writing in the Pacific Colloquium. CERC research group/ French Dept, Uni of Akld.
  • "When Romeo Met Tusi: Pacificness, Indigeneity and Maori/ Pacific couples in Maori and Pasifika texts." Pacific Worlds and the American West Conference. University of Utah.


  • "Maori: Pacific vs Indigenous." Te Manu-ao Speaker Series. (Networked/ videconferenced national speaker series of Maori scholars.)
  • "Maori, Indigeneity and Diaspora." Rethinking Indigenous Identity in the Pacific: a panel discussion. Pacific Studies/ Fulbright panel with April Henderson and J Kehaulani Kauanui.  
  • "Belonging to Water: Framing 'Maori' as 'Pacific.'" UCLA Asian American Studies Program Distinguished Guest Lecture. UCLA.
  • "An Asian Maori? A Caucasian Maori? Te Rangihiroa's application for US citizenship." Australian Critical Race and Whiteness Studies Association Conference. Uni of Adelaide.
  • "Manuhiri: reading Maori on Pasifika pages." South Pacific Association for Commonwealth Language and Literary Studies triennial conference. National University of Samoa - Apia.
  • "Maori: Pacific vs Indigenous?" Native American and Indigenous Studies Conference. University of Oklahoma.
  • "Comparative Indigenous Studies: A Discussion." Native American and Indigenous Studies Conference. University of Oklahoma.


  • "Theorising Comparative Indigenous Literary Studies." Indigenous Literary and Cultural Studies Symposium. University of Auckland.
  • "Inspiring our students to become enthusiastic about our Indigenous writing."
    Te Wehengarua/ NZPPTA (Maori secondary school teachers) Annual Conference. New Plymouth.
  • "Maori Cowboys, Maori Indians." Harvard Ethnic Studies Series. Harvard University.
  • "Twenty-first century Maori writing in English." OSU Visiting 20th Century Facilitator Public Talk .  The Ohio State University.
  • "Maori Cowboys, Maori Indians." Pacific History Association. Dunedin.
  • "Many Voices, One Syllabus." Native American Literature Symposium. Michigan.


  • "The Lingering War Captain: Indigenous-Indigenous Encounter" Keynote. A Dialogue of the New Millennium: Multilingualism, Literature and Theories. Taipei Municipal University of Education.

Other publications (creative, other non-fiction)

  • [forthcoming] "Shine bright like a moko: the history of Rihanna's tattoo." Tell You What: Great New Zealand Non-Fiction 2015. Eds Jolisa Gracewood & Susanna Andrew. Auckland: Auckland University Press. [Nov 2014.]
  • "Maybe Baby 1," "Maybe Baby 2," "te kawa a maui farewell: a reflection in seven parts," "he waiata tangi, he waiata aroha," Ora Nui 2013 Maori Literary Journal. Auckland: Anton Blank Ltd, 2013.
  • "Layers," "red carded," 4th floor 2013. Porirua: Whitireia Polytechnic, forthcoming 2013.
  • "The radical act of sleeping," "100 cousins," "The measure of a man's worth," "driving home both ways," "fleet," Ora Nui 2012 Maori Literary Journal. Auckland: Anton Blank Ltd, 2012.
  • "Fleet," "just like that." broadsheet: new new zealand poetry. (9) 2011/22.
  • "te ariki." Included in exhibition on Papa Alistair Te Ariki Campbell's life at Pataka Gallery (Porirua, New Zealand) and Cook Islands Library and Museum Society (Rarotonga), 2011.
  • "The measure of a man's worth," "A New Generation of Historians on Flight 499," "time to write." Law Text Culture. 15 (1) 2011. Special issue on Mobile Peoples in the Pacific.
  • "Paula Morris" (interview). Words Chosen Carefully. Ed. Siobhan Harvey. Auckland: Cape Catley, 2010: 176-197.
  • Commissioned op-ed, "A hysterical turn to 'race' in New Zealand.' The Guardian online 'Comment is Free' 2010.
  • "Foreword," When Sun and Moon Collide. Play by Briar Grace-Smith. Wellington: Huia, 2010: viii-xi.
  • "Daddy's Little Girl," "Feet of clay: a tribute and an accusation." Mauri Ola: Contemporary Polynesian Poems II. Auckland: Auckland University Press, 2010.
  • "first draft of a waiata tangi." The Racial Politics of Bodies, Nations and Knowledges. Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Press, 2009.
  • "The loss of blood," "A lei, an 'ula, for our boy from Hawai'i." A Day in History: poems celebrating the inauguration of Barack Hussein Obama. Paekakariki: Earl of Seacliff Workshop, 2009.
  • "Good cop, bad cop," "throw away lines." Terror in our Midst. Wellington: Huia, 2008.
  • "Mauri." Pacific Studies. 30 (1/2) Special Issue on Women Weaving Oceania.2007.
  • "Mauri," "Whose Home," "You're peering into my face." Whetu Moana: Contemporary Polynesian Poems. Auckland: Auckland University Press, 2003.

Awards and Fellowships

  • 2014    NAISA (Native American and Indigenous Studies Association) prize: Best First Book 2012
  • 2011-2 University of Toronto Inaugural Visiting Professor of Indigenous Studies
  • 2010    VUW University Research Fund Grant ($11,000)
  • 2009    Macquarie University Warawara Dept of Indigenous Studies (Australia) visiting scholar
  • 2006    Marsden Fast Start Grant ($140,000)
  • 2004    Cornell University Dissertation Completion Fellowship
  • 2000    Fulbright Graduate Award

Research Supervisions

Current PhD

  • Steven Gin (University of Hawai'i - English) committee member

Completed PhD

  • Arini Loader  (Victoria University Wellington) in Maori Studies - 19th century Maori writing in Otaki
  • Tina Makereti Loader  (Victoria University Wellington) in Creative Writing - Moriori novel

Current MA

University of Hawaii

  • Mechelins Iechad (Pacific Studies) - The Bai as Palauan social and architectural structure
  • Keali'I Mackenzie (Pacific Studies) - Hawaiian slam poetry

Completed MA

University of Hawaii

  • Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner (Pacific Studies) - Marshallese Literature
  • Norman Thompson III (English) - Kant and the Maori moko

Victoria University of Wellington

  • Krissi Jerram (Maori Studies) - Maori language short fiction
  • Meg Waghorn (English) - representing Indigenous first encounters with writing in Australian novels
  • Charlie Holland (English) - Alice Tawhai's short fiction
  • Stephanie Ackerman (English) - Witi Ihimaera's collection Dear Miss Mansfield
  • Kelly Lambert (NZ Literature) - Roma Potiki and 'Mana Wahine Maori' poetry
  • Arini Loader (Maori Studies) 19th century writer Te Rangikaheke

Professional Service

  • Member of editorial board, American Quarterly (2014 - )
  • Member of editorial board, The Contemporary Pacific (2013 - )
  • Member of editorial board, Native American and Indigenous Studies (2013 - )
  • Co-chair (with Selina Tusitala Marsh), SPACLALS (South Pacific Association for Commonwealth Language and Literary Studies) (2009-2012)
  • (Foundation) Council member, Native American and Indigenous Studies Association (2009-2011)
  • Member of executive, Te Pouhere Korero (Maori Historians Association) (2008 - )
  • Macquarie University: Warawara representative, FOA Internationalisation Committee

Dr Te Punga Somerville has also served in many internal university roles at Victoria University of Wellington and the University of Hawai'i-Manoa. Alice has been on selection panels for Fulbright New Zealand (2009, 2011) and the Kapiti Maori writers residency (2008, 2010), judge of WWF 'Oceans' creative writing competition (2011), Maori Secondary Schools speech competition (2009-11) and Commonwealth Writers Prize (2009), board member of Toi Maori National Maori Arts Board (2011-2); she has also been active in organising events that profile Indigenous writers and writing.