Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
thesis_access.pdf (1.85 MB)

Tahitian Author Célestine Hitiura Vaite's Multilingual Writing: a Literary Tīfaifai from the 'Inside Out'

Download (1.85 MB)
Version 2 2023-06-08, 01:59
Version 1 2022-08-02, 01:15
posted on 2023-06-08, 01:59 authored by Manuia Heinrich Sue

Between 2000 and 2006, Tahitian author Célestine Vaite, who now lives in Australia, published a series of novels in English, Breadfruit, Frangipani and Tiare in Bloom, all of which earned international acclaim. Set in 1970s colonial Tahiti, these novels ally several languages, including English, French, Tahitian and the Tahitian-French vernacular, giving the text rich multicultural flavors. With colonial, global, Indigenous, and regional languages being woven together in these unique literary productions, Vaite’s multilingualism becomes an active medium of diasporic and Indigenous identity assertion. While Tahiti is still under colonial rule today, I explore how Vaite’s multilingualism linguistically brings down invisible barriers forged by waves of colonization across the Pacific, thus answering the call of theorist Epeli Hau‘ofa to rethink conceptualizations of Oceania in his foundational essay, “Our Sea of Islands” (1994), while also addressing the lack of scholarship on Mā‘ohi writers and their literary works. To contextualize my research within a Mā‘ohi epistemology and reality, I use a methodology modelled after the tīfaifai, the French Polynesian quilt, and frame Vaite’s use of languages within the concepts of diaspora, Indigeneity, and colonialism.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Pacific Studies

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Victoria University of Wellington Unit

Va'aomanū Pasifika

ANZSRC Socio-Economic Outcome code

280116 Expanding knowledge in language, communication and culture; 280114 Expanding knowledge in Indigenous studies

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code

1 Pure basic research

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Doctoral Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Languages and Cultures


Case, Emalani; Anderson, Jean