‘That’s My Stuff’: Pasifika Literature and Pasifika Identity
Pasifika literature is an expanding, dynamic field which, like other Pasifika creative productions, is often seen as representative of exciting new directions, and reflective of a nascent generation of young Pasifika who are firmly established in New Zealand. This thesis considers the relationship between Pasifika literature and Pasifika identity, tracing some ways that Pasifika literature articulates, references, and mediates Pasifika identity through the creative work of two prominent New Zealand-born Pacific scholar-poets: Karlo Mila (Tongan, Palangi, Samoan) and Selina Tusitala Marsh (Samoan, Tuvaluan, French, English). Both these women are highly acclaimed, award winning poets and academics who are well respected in their respective Pacific communities. Reading their creative works firstly as examples of a mixed-race Pasifika literature and then as Pasifika feminist texts offers compelling insights into their worlds as young ‘brown’ women in New Zealand. Their work makes a significant contribution to Pacific literature and New Zealand literature, and offers many points of entry for exploring what it might mean to be a Pasifika person in Aotearoa today. This work is furthered in a final chapter, which gestures towards a new generation of Pasifika writers. By referencing some of the new writing being produced by young Pasifika, in particular the work of Grace Taylor and Courtney Sina Meredith, I illustrate how Mila and Marsh’s writing has opened up necessary creative spaces for Pasifika voices to be heard and their senses of identity to be affirmed. Ultimately, the connections between Pasifika literature and Pasifika identities that have been explored in this thesis continue to be strengthened and developed by a new generation of young Pasifika writers, who continue to affirm identities that are fluid, open, and progressive.