Author Archives: cpis

About cpis

The Center for Pacific Islands Studies, in the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa School of Pacific and Asian Studies, is both an academic department and a larger home for initiatives that bring together people and resources to promote an understanding of the Pacific Islands and issues of concern to Pacific Islanders.

CPIS Welcomes New Affiliate Faculty Members

The Center for Pacific Islands Studies is delighted to announce that Laufata “Fata” Simanu-Klutz (CPIS MA, 2001) and Alice Te Punga Somerville have joined the Pacific Islands Studies affiliate instructional faculty. Courses taught by affiliate faculty are part of the center’s instructional program, and affiliate faculty serve on student committees and the center’s editorial boards. Continue reading

Woven Words: Reflections on My Time at UH Mānoa

By Leilani Tamu, 2013 Fulbright-Creative New Zealand Writer in Residence
They say that every journey begins with a first step. But in my experience, every journey begins with a connection. When I think about my three months at UH Mānoa as the 2013 Fulbright-Creative New Zealand Writer in Residence, it is the connections that were made, nurtured, and treasured that stand out as the highlight of my time in Hawaiʻi. Woven together, relationships bind Pacific people across oceans of perceived distance, and in coming to Mānoa I am confident that, despite my now being back in Aotearoa, that bond is one that will last a lifetime. Continue reading

Pacific Islands Monograph Series

The Center for Pacific Islands Studies is pleased to announce the publication of two new volumes in its Pacific Islands Monograph Series (PIMS)—Colonialism, Maasina Rule, and the Origins of Malaita Kastom by David Akin (University of Michigan) and Kanak Awakening: The Rise of Nationalism in New Caledonia by David Chappell, UHM History Department and CPIS affiliate faculty. Continue reading

Capturing Waves of Change

In November, Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner (CPIS MA student) and Leonard Leon (Academy for Creative Media BA student and Marshallese instructor) conducted a weeklong workshop on creative expression. “Capturing Waves of Change” encouraged youth from the Pālolo Homes community to tell their stories through photography and poetry at the Pālolo Ohana Learning Center with funding from the UHM Office of Student Equity, Excellence and Diversity (SEED). Continue reading

5th Annual Sāmoa Ala Mai Conference

The Sāmoa Ala Mai Conference is an annual event organized by the UHM Office of Multicultural Student Services (OMSS) to help recruit Pacific Islander students by providing information and support for students and their families. “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams,” a quote from Eleanor Roosevelt, was this year’s theme. More than 60 students from various high schools attended the event held at UH-West Oʻahu (UHWO), which Tina Tauasosi-Posiulai, Community Partnership and Research Specialist OMSS, described as “the perfect venue for our Pacific Islander students.” Continue reading

Pacific Islands Women in Leadership Program

The East-West Center launched their new Pacific Islands Women in Leadership program (WIL) this past November. This initiative is the result of the Rarotonga Partnership between the United States, New Zealand, and Australia for the advancement of Pacific Island women. The first cohort—including ten participants from Fiji, Kiribati, the Federated States of Micronesia, Papua New Guinea, Sāmoa, Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu—came to the East-West Center for a 3-week intensive leadership program.
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Student Interview: Nikita Salas

CPIS BA student Nikita Salas was the teaching assistant for Dr Monica LaBriola (CPIS MA, 2006) during the GEAR UP 2013 summer session of PACS 108. GEAR UP—Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs—is a US Department of Education program aimed at increasing the number of low-income students pursuing and succeeding in higher education. UH Mānoa partners with Farrington and Waipahu high schools to support for incoming freshman by offering introductory courses during the summer sessions.  Continue reading

Student and Alumni Activities

“Tell Them” Poem Inspires Musical Production at USP
“Tell Them,” a poem by Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner (CPIS MA student), was the inspiration for a music-dance-drama production at the University of the South Pacific (USP), in Suva, Fiji, in December. Moana: the Rising of the Sea was produced by USP’s Oceania Centre for Arts, Cultures and Pacific Studies and highlighted the issues and challenges associated with climate change. The play opened with a recitation of Kathy’s poem. Themes such as sea level rise, relocation, and culture and identity loss were featured throughout the play.
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Faculty and Staff Activities

CPIS director Terence Wesley-Smith was an invited speaker at the Oceanic Symposium convened by the Pacific Studies program of the University of the South Pacific (USP) and held at the Nadi Bay Resort Hotel 6–7 November. The purpose of the gathering was to discuss the state of Pacific Studies programs around the region and consider the implications for the future growth of the USP program. Terence’s paper, “Placing Pacific Studies: Reflections from a Lazy Non-Native,” considered developments in the field of study nearly two decades after his article “Rethinking Pacific Islands Studies” appeared in Pacific Studies (18.2, 1995). The symposium was co-convened by CPIS alumna Lea Lani Kauvaka (MA, 2005), and other participants included April Henderson (Victoria University of Wellington; CPIS MA, 1999), and Katerina Teaiwa (Australian National University; CPIS MA, 1999). An opening address was delivered by Konai Helu-Thaman (USP), and also giving papers were Stewart Firth (Australian National University), Malama Meleisa (National University of Sāmoa), Melani Anae (University of Auckland), and Tēvita Ō Kaʻili (Brigham Young University-Hawaiʻi). At the conclusion of the symposium, Dr Wesley-Smith was invited to join the Advisory Board for the Oceania Centre for Arts, Culture and Pacific Studies.
Oceania at USP
Oceanic Symposium participants
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Outreach Events

Tok Stori
The center’s monthly Tok Stori series “Employing Pacific Studies” invites alumni and current students to discuss how they use Pacific studies. “Employing Pacific Studies” began on 13 September with alumni Senator J Kalani English (CPIS MA, 1995) and Scott Kroeker (CPIS MA, 1999), in a session chaired by Tarcisius Kabutaulaka. The panelists recounted their experiences as Pacific studies graduate students, shared the ways that they have used their Pacific studies degrees in their careers, and also discussed other career options for Pacific studies degrees. The seminar was followed by a welcome reception for incoming BA students.
Tok Stori aug
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Pacific Collection News

By Stu Dawrs, Senior Librarian, Pacific Collection
The Pacific Collection at Hamilton Library has maintained a comprehensive acquisitions policy—all subject areas, all languages, all time periods, all formats, all reading levels—since its inception in 1968 as a stand-alone library collection. Continue reading

Publications from UH Press

Colonialism, Maasina Rule, and the Origins of Malaitan Kastom by David Akin provides a sophisticated reading of Pacific Islander interactions with and responses to foreign influences and colonialism, while focusing on Malaita in Solomon Islands, more specifically on the Maasina Rule Movement. 2013, 552 pages. ISBN 978-0-8248-3814-0, cloth, US $59.00.

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The Center for Pacific Islands Studies is delighted to announce that Peter Moana Nepia and Alexander Dale Mawyer will join us in January 2014.
Moana Nepia comes to the center with established careers in visual and performing arts as a choreographer, dancer, painter, designer, writer, and video artist. Moana trained at the Victorian College of Arts in Melbourne, the Chelsea and Wimbledon Schools of Art in London; he also completed a practice-led PhD exploring the Māori concept of Te Kore (void and potentiality) at Auckland University of Technology (AUT). He has held lecturing positions at the University of Auckland, Unitec Polytechnic, and at AUT in the dance, visual arts, and digital and spatial design programs. He has served on trust boards for the performing arts organizations Atamira Dance Company, Ōrotokare, and DANZ–Dance Aotearoa New Zealand. Moana writes, “I’m excited to be joining CPIS at this time to help develop the new strand in art, performance, and culture of the Pacific. Faculty and student interests in indigenous perspectives and interdisciplinary approaches to learning at CPIS make this opportunity especially attractive to me and will provide a stimulating environment for me to further some of my own research, teaching, and creative interests. I’m looking forward to establishing new conversations through exhibiting, performing, choreographing, and publishing here, to shifting some of my own perspectives on the Pacific, which the move to Mānoa from Auckland will represent… and I want to learn to surf and hula.”
                Alexander Dale Mawyer will also join the center in January. Alex is an associate professor of anthropology at Lake Forest College. He was a graduate student at the center, where he completed an MA thesis titled “From Po to Ao: A Historical Analysis of Filmmaking in the Pacific” (1997). While at the center he also compiled the fourth edition of Moving Images of the Pacific: A Guide to Films and Videos. His interest in Pacific films and filmmaking continues, and recently he has been working on redeveloping the online database Moving Images of the Pacific Islands. Alex earned a PhD in anthropology from the University of Chicago for which he conducted fieldwork with the Mangarevan community in the Gambier and Society Islands of French Polynesia focused on language, politics, and the circulation of information in contemporary social and political life. Some of his active research interests include legacies of the nuclear experience in French Polynesia, and other dimensions of cultural crisis in the 19th and 20th century Pacific including language change and loss. Alex served as one of the coeditors of Varua Tupu: New Writing from French Polynesia, the first anthology of Ma‘ohi literature to appear in English. He is currently the book and media reviews editor for The Contemporary Pacific.


In September, the center will welcome the 2013 Fulbright–Creative New Zealand Pacific Writer-in-Residence Leilani Tamu. Leilani is a poet, magazine columnist, Pacific historian, former New Zealand diplomat, and dedicated mother. Born in New Zealand to a Samoan mother and Pākehā (European descent) father, Leilani’s mixed cultural heritage has played an important role in shaping both her creative and professional career. Her first book of poetry, The Art of Excavation, traverses the interconnected themes of Pacific history, colonization, cosmology, and genealogy and is due out in early 2014. During the three-month residency in Hawaiʻi, Leilani will work on another collection of poetry, Cultural Diplomacy. She is particularly interested in learning about the life of Princess Kaʻiulani, whom she regards as an inspirational Polynesian ancestor. She will also focus on the ways that cultural heritage has shaped the work of Hawaiian poets.


Associate Professor Lola Quan Bautista recently launched the website for the half-hour educational documentary Breadfruit & Open Spaces (2012), which she produced and directed. The documentary provides a more personal view into research Lola has published in her 2011 book, Steadfast Movement Around Micronesia. Breadfruit & Open Spaces explores the journey of the residents of the Gill-Baza subdivision in Guam and their challenge to hold their ground and find a voice on a new island, while also maintaining their ties to their families on their home islands in the Federated States of Micronesia. Shot in an intimate, backyard style, this film offers a rare look into the personal stories and open living spaces of the Chuukese and Yapese people who live, work, and attend school on Guam, the land where they now grow and prepare their traditional foods.
Breadfruit & Open Spaces won Guam International Film Festival’s 2012 Best Documentary–Short.
Over the summer, Lola has been preparing a version for national public television broadcast on PBS with funding from Pacific Islanders in Communications; air dates will be announced on the CPIS Facebook page.
CPIS graduate assistant Candi Steiner worked with Lola to edit the website. Visit the website for more information and to purchase the film:


by Kathy Martin
In January 2013, I was hired as a resident services associate for Mutual Housing Association of Hawaiʻi at Pālolo Homes. Even before my employment, however, I initially got involved with the community in Spring 2011 doing a service-learning project along with my PACS 603 classmates and our professor, Lola Quan Bautista. Over the course of several months, we gathered information about education and occupation from 87 households made up on Native Hawaiians, Samoans, Tongans, and more recent Pacific Islander migrants from Chuuk, Pohnpei, and the Marshall Islands.
Then, in Fall 2012, I was invited by Dr Ulla Hassager (UHM) and Veronica Ogata (KCC), as well as the resident manager of Palolo Homes, Ms Dahlia Asuega, to help develop the agenda for what became my favorite activity, the Pālolo Ohana Program. Known in the neighborhood as the “POP Session,” this is a time when the community comes together and “talks story” about issues facing the community, feelings of discrimination and stereotypes as well as and desired activities. Throughout Fall 2012, students from UHM and KCC came to the learning center and showcased films about the Pacific, which were well attended. In Spring 2013, we took on new activities like college preparedness, financial planning, and even parenting classes. We also scheduled fun stuff like Bingo nights with prizes!
This year Pālolo Homes was selected to be surveyed to represent Mutual Housing Association of Hawai‘i in partnership with Neighbor Works America, a national org-anization that provides financial and resource support to Mutual Housing. I’m out in the field again, gathering inform-ation from residents about how to improve the community and how families feel about living in this community. I am also mentoring a BYU intern from Kiribati, Marewea Auatabu, as part of a service-learning activity administered by Lola Quan Bautista.
The most exciting part of my work with the Pālolo community is that I get to speak Chuukese and work with Chuukese families, though I especially enjoy bonding with other Pacific Islanders and learning about their cultures as well. I’ve noticed that we eat similar traditional foods and that other Pacific Islanders also have large family gatherings and show respect for elders.
I’d say one of my biggest challenges is figuring out how to get residents to commit to community projects. It’s hard because there are language barriers and cultural differences.  Even when I work with Chuukese residents, sometimes it is hard speaking with older people and even men.
 Editor’s note: Kathy Martin is featured in Breadfruit & Open Spaces. She was born and raised in Chuuk, moved to Guam to attend University of Guam, and came to Hawaiʻi for graduate studies. In 2011, she earned a Masters in Social Work from UHM. Kathy’s contribution was invited to continue highlighting the service-learning programs that KCC and UHM students are involved with and to add the perspective of a program developer and community member (see Pacific News from Mānoa 13–1). 


by Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner, CPIS MA student
On Saturday, 17 May 2013, Marshallese students, parents, teachers, and service providers in Honolulu attended the 6th annual Marshallese Education Day at the New Hope Leeward Church in Waipahu. The yearly event, which began in 2008, recognizes Marshallese honor students, encourages parents to become more involved in education, and challenges students to aim for college.
According to US Census Bureau statistics collected in 2010, as many as 6,316 Marshallese are registered as living in Hawai‘i.
“It’s important that we continue this event because it lets our students know that we support them,” says Gloria Lani, chairperson of the Marshallese Education Day Committee. “It’s important our students know that they’re not alone, and that there are others who’ve faced the same challenges they’ve faced.”
Litha Joel Jorju addressed these racial tensions in her article for Honolulu Civil Beat entitled “For Marshallese, Hawaii Is the Only Home We Have Left” (1 May 2013): “Those of us from Marshall Islands, Micronesia and Palau know that we are not yet accepted in Hawaii. We know that some people don’t like our traditional dresses and skirts, call us all “Micros” and think that we don’t know how to fit in,” writes Jorju. “We are trying. We are trying hard to get an education for our kids, get medical care for our elders, and jobs that will allow us to be self-sufficient.”
Marshallese families came together once again to honor and appreciate the many success stories of our Marshallese students.
Hawaiʻi Senator Jill Tokuda was the keynote speaker and helped to distribute the awards to the honor students. CPIS Specialist Julie Walsh, advisor to the Marshallese Education Day committee, and several CPIS students were involved on the day. I performed poetry for the group and my mother, RMI Minister of Education Dr Hilda Heine, was also an invited speaker. Senior BA student Cynthia deBrum also worked with the committee to record the students’ breakout sessions.
Marshallese Education Day was sponsored by the Republic of the Marshall Islands Government, New Hope Leeward, the Marshallese Education Day Committee, Waikiki Marshallese Assembly of God, and a UHM College Access Challenge Grant.


By Keola Kim Diaz, CPIS MA 2011 and member of COFA-CAN (Compact of Free Association Community Action Network)
On Saturday, 3 August 2013, members and friends of the outreach program Reach Out Pacific gathered at the UHM Richardson School of Law to help load classroom furniture into a 40 foot container bound for the Marshall Islands. In July, the law school contacted Hawaiʻi State Senator Glen Wakai to notify him that classroom and office furniture were slated to be disposed of. Senator Wakai, founder of ReachOut Pacific, secured the items and coordinated with various community contacts to ship the furniture to the Republic of the Marshall Islands for the community college. More than 30 people arrived early Saturday morning to lend a hand. Volunteers representing the various Pacific Island nations—Palau, Marshall Islands, Yap, and Sāmoa—came eagerly to help. The volunteers loaded the container in about an hour. This will be the third shipment that Reach Out Pacific has sent to the Micronesian region. The container and shipping were donated by Matson Shipping Company.


The East-West Center’s Pacific Islands Development Program welcomes participants from Pacific Island nations for two new leadership programs. The Pacific Island Leadership with Taiwan (PILP) aims to enhance individual leadership skills and development of regional expertise and a people-to-people network in the Asia-Pacific region. The program intends to help develop human resources in the Pacific Island nations that will contribute to the development of their home countries and strengthen relations with Taiwan. Each year, up to 25 early to mid-career professionals will be selected from Pacific Island nations to participate in this fellowship. The 13-week program begins in August with 8 weeks of intensive cohort learning at the East-West Center’s campus, followed by a month-long field study in Taiwan. The program will place emphasis on law of the sea, community-based resource management, geopolitics, climate change, alternative energy development, small business development, cultural diversity, and telecommunications.
The Pacific Islands Women in Leadership Program is a three-week intensive residential program, starting in October, followed by a year of network peer support to effect positive regional change on gender issues by empowered young women leaders through specific projects. The program is aimed at women in their early thirties from a cross-section of Pacific Island communities and diverse sectors. Participants will be paired with mentors in Hawaiʻi and elsewhere who can provide empathetic, knowledgeable sounding boards to develop strategies and approaches that are applicable to the participants’ situations back home. Two main objectives are (1) the development of a network of women leaders working on Pacific women’s empowerment issues and connected to supportive institutions, and (2) development of applied leadership projects designed within and for specific communities. The program draws elements from the East-West Center’s decade-long “Changing Faces Program” (a leadership program for Asia-Pacific women) to address issues and challenges for Pacific women in educational and health care access, domestic violence, and marginalization from social and economic and political power.
For more information, visit


Throughout the center’s fall seminar series, “Employing Pacific Studies,” alumni and current students will reflect on personal, academic, and professional experiences with Pacific studies. 
 Myjolynne Kim (CPIS MA 2007), or Mymy as many of us know her, is the executive director for the Federated States of Micronesia Association of Chambers of Commerce. Mymy and Katherine Higgins were classmates, and they caught up during the 11th Festival of Pacific Arts in Honiara, Solomon Islands, in July 2012.
Katherine Higgins: Why did you first pursue a degree in Pacific Islands studies?
Myjolynne Kim: When I was doing my undergraduate studies in philosophy and theology, I started thinking about it. I was exposed to all of these ancient ways of thinking and foreign ways of thinking, like Greek philosophy and Chinese philosophy. It prompted me to think back to where I’m from. What are my ways of thinking? What are the Micronesian ways? What are my Chuukese ways of thinking? What are the Chuukese epistemologies? My fascination with ancient history also led me to questions. What was Chuukese prehistory like? I was looking around for programs, and Pacific Islands studies was one way that could lead to understanding Chuukese history, Micronesian history, and indigenous epistemologies.
KH: What did you want out of it? Were you thinking of doing a degree for a particular career or to just inform yourself?
MK: Both, to inform myself and eventually for a future career. I never really thought of what sort of career I wanted but then I got into the CPIS program and that’s when the career ideas started coming to life. I recognized different possibilities and different approaches, and I could still use my Pacific Islands studies background.
KH: Such as?
MK: Such as going to museums, art, history. And I think there’s a lot of opportunities in the Pacific in terms of creating programs, cultural centers, or Micronesian studies programs, or even a language center…. We used to have traditional schools of Itang— traditional knowledge or persons trained in oral history, languages, arts, music, navigation and all aspects of traditional lifestyles—in Chuuk. Some of the existing traditional schools include traditional navigation, which is still taught in some of the western islands. One of my hopes is to eventually revive it, maybe in a modern sense, and retain ways of how they find students and educate them; to acknowledge and promote it in ways that people are excited to teach it, especially those who can pass it on, even if it’s just within their clan.
KH: What was the most beneficial part of the CPIS degree for you, whether it was a class or experience?
MK: All of it. The awareness of what’s going on in the Pacific and the approach. The artistic approach the center has, a native approach, a creative approach… for me, that was a very unique way to do Pacific Islands studies or even history. I used to take history classes as an undergrad and I never liked them. When you’re given that freedom of creative expression and to take a creative direction, it makes a difference in what you’re doing…. CPIS encouraged us to take that direction, and of course a lot of the people there and the classmates we met made the difference, because they are the ones that really shape your work. I don’t give myself credit for my project. It was a process from myself and my classmates and my professors.
KH: Do you use that experience from CPIS now in your life?
MK: All the time. I’m involved with our Chuuk Youth Council and I incorporate culture most of the time. Sometimes I bet they’re thinking, “Why is this girl talking about culture, culture in all of these things?” We organized the Chuuk Youth Cultural Day, and that was a success getting all the traditional knowledge holders together in one place to talk about cultural values, cultural epistemologies, and Chuukese epistemologies. It was beyond what we expected. So I do apply a lot of the experiences. I also used my experience for a cultural policy project with the Secretariat of the Pacific Community and, of course, when I used to teach at College of Micronesia–FSM, I taught Micronesian culture. And I continually work informally in cultural areas.
Postscript: Myjolynne continues to work for the FSM Association of Chambers of Commerce but currently focuses all of her attention on her beautiful newborn son Rohannes Rongatoa Kim. In the next few months, she will begin working with FSM Department of Education through a contract with Pacific Resources for Education and Learning (PREL).


The center congratulates its most recent graduate, Jesi Lujan Bennett. Jesi’s thesis, “Apmam Tiempo Ti Uli’e Hit (Long Time No See): Chamorro Diaspora and the Transpacific Home,” explores Chamorro migration and settlement within new diasporic spaces like San Diego, California. It shows how Chamorros living away from their home Islands still find ways to stay connected to their cultural roots through their trans-Pacific homes and identities. The movement of Chamorros to the United States changes how Chamorros choose to articulate their indigeneity. Jesi’s thesis highlights the challenges and nuances of living in the trans-Pacific diaspora through the examination of Chamorro organizations, clothing brands, and festivals. Today there are more Chamorros living away from their home Islands than on them. This project shows that Pacific Islanders abroad continue to keep strong links to their home Islands despite their physical location.
This semester, Jesi joins UHM’s Department of American Studies to pursue a PhD focusing on indigenous studies and work as a graduate assistant for the department.
At the beginning of fall semester, the center welcomed six new students into the MA program:
  • Rarai Aku Jr is from Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, and attended Hawaiʻi Pacific University, where she earned a BA in political science. Her experiences growing up in Papua New Guinea motivate her research interest in women’s roles in society. Rarai is interested in exploring gender equality in the Pacific Islands and hopes to develop culturally sensitive and respectful ways to address the issues.
  • Terava Casey has a BS in political science from Brigham Young University–Hawaiʻi Campus. As a student at BYUH, Terava performed at the Polynesian Cultural Center. She enjoys performing hula and ʻaparima [dance] because through dance, she connects with her Hawaiian and French Polynesian heritage. She is interested in employing creative methods to examine regional issues.
  • Matthew Locey graduated from Brigham Young University–Hawaiʻi with an associate of science degree. He has long been fascinated with Hollywood’s portrayals of Hawaiʻi and other Polynesian cultures. Drawing from his Hawaiian heritage and experiences working in Hawaiʻi’s film industry, Matthew looks forward to conducting researching comparing Hollywood’s version of the Pacific Islands with perspectives from the Islands.
  • Jason Mateo graduated from San Francisco State University with a BS in ethnic studies. In San Francisco, he was a youth advocate and developed the Brave New Voices International Youth Slam Poetry Festival. He has continued to work with youth and communities in Hawaiʻi and cofounded Pacific Tongues to create access to sustainable youth programs through an active community of writers, spoken-word performers, educators, and students.
  • Yu Suenaga was born in Japan and grew up in Weno, Chuuk. He earned a BA in Japanese studies from UH Mānoa. Together with other graduates of Xavier High School, he cofounded the Fourth Branch, a news and media outlet to inform and involve the people of Micronesia, particularly those living in Hawaiʻi. Yu is pursuing Pacific Islands studies to gain a deeper understanding of his home, Weno, and explore the connections between Japan and Chuuk, particularly during the Japanese colonial era.
  • Melvin Won Pat-Borja is from Guahån and earned a BEd in secondary education from UH Mānoa. He has worked in high schools in Guahån and Hawaiʻi teaching poetry and spoken word, and he cofounded Youth Speaks Hawaiʻi to develop critical thinking, writing, reading, public speaking, and leadership skills through spoken-arts education. Melvin is interested in exploring ways that educational systems in the Pacific region can validate oral histories and adapt to the needs of young people.
The East-West Center recently welcomed four new US–South Pacific Scholarship students. The students studying at UH Mānoa are:
  • Geejay Paraghii Milli, from Papua New Guinea, who will be working on her MA in political science
  • Devereaux Kolosefilo Takagi, from Niue, who will be working on his MA in public administration
Students studying at UH Hilo are:
  • Ada Kettner, from Vanuatu, who will be working on her BA in marine science
  • Pelenatete Katie Leilula, from Sāmoa, who will work on her BA in business management, is the fourth scholar and she will arrive in January.
Congratulations to CPIS BA students Ronia Auelua, Alyessa Nakasone, and Teora Rey, who were awarded 2013-2014 King David Kalakaua Scholarships.
The center congratulates its Pacific Islands studies undergraduate majors Jacob Mayer, Andrea Staley, Ronia Auelua, and Alyssa Nakasone, who have been awarded 2013-2014 Pacific Islands Studies scholarships. This award is for undergraduate majors who demonstrate superior academic performance.
Lesley Iaukea is the 2013 recipient of the Heyum Award. The Heyum Endowment Fund, at the University of Hawaiʻi, was established by the late R Renée Heyum, former curator of the Pacific Collection, Hamilton Library, to assist Pacific Islanders pursuing education and/or training in Hawaiʻi.
The 2013 Na Nei Tou I Loloma Award recipients are Kahala Johnson, Lesley Iaukea, Kenneth Goffigan, and Jesse Yonover. Thanks to a generous donation to the Center for Pacific Islands Studies, this travel award is presented to students to undertake projects that will contribute to an increased understanding of humanitarian issues and will benefit communities or the Pacific as a whole. The awardees will give a public presentation on their research projects on Friday, 18 October 2013.
Congratulations to CPIS MA students who were awarded East-West Center Graduate Degree Fellowships Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner and Melvin Won Pat-Borja. They join continuing fellow and CPIS student Kenneth Golfigan Kuper.
Congratulations to CPIS MA student Leora Kava who received the East-West Center’s Alumni Award as well as the Pacific and Asian Affairs Council’s Paul S Honda Fellowship.
CPIS faculty and staff also want to congratulate alum and PACS instructor Monica LaBriola (CPIS MA, 2006) on earning her doctorate in history in August 2013. Monica’s dissertation “Likiep Kapin Iep: Land, Power, and History on a Marshallese Atoll” explores the cultural, epistemological, and historical context of the 1877 sale of Likiep Atoll to José Anton deBrum of Portugal and deBrum’s subsequent transfer of ownership to the partners of A Capelle & Co. The investigation applies an eclectic ethnographic approach to reveal some of the historical and cultural dynamics that played a key role in the momentous transaction. The dissertation’s focused methodology and use of diverse cultural and historical resources demonstrates the important contributions ethnography can make to local interpretations of history and ongoing academic discussions of translocal themes such as colonialism and imperialism, Islander agency, accommodation and resistance, Christian conversions, indigenous knowledge and epistemology, land and sovereignty, and the practice and construction of history itself. LaBriola’s approach demonstrates that localized histories and historiographies are key to understanding the vast and expanding region of Oceania and to the ongoing dehegemonization of the discipline of Pacific history and Pacific studies more generally.
Congratulations to Edelene Uriarte (CPIS MA, 2010) and Derrick Albert, who were married on 8 June 2013 at the Diamond Head Seventh-Day [capitalization per Webster’s] Adventist Church.
Best wishes to Rachel Miller (CPIS MA 2010) as she pursues an MA in public affairs with a concentration on nonprofit management at Indiana University Bloomington School of Public and Environmental Affairs. Rachel was instrumental in developing and teaching Marshallese language and culture courses at UH Mānoa. For the past two years, Rachel was a project assistant with the Pacific Regional Integrated Science and Assessment (Pacific RISA) at the East-West Center and she collaborated with CPIS for programs such as the tok-stori series preceding the “Waves of Change” conference.
CPIS faculty and staff were saddened to hear of the passing of alumna Beverly Chutaro (CPIS MA, 2002) on 4 June 2013. Beverly was born and raised in Portsmouth, Ohio, and in 1968, only a week after graduating from college, she moved to the Marshall Islands with her husband Chuji. She spent time in the Mariana Islands and Hawaiʻi, but her home was in Majuro where she and Chuji raised their children Emi and Ben. Beverly was a faculty member in the Department of Liberal Arts at the College of the Marshall Islands.


Congratulations to Lola Quan Bautista, who was awarded tenure and promotion to Associate Professor in May 2013. She also launched the website for her film Breadfruit & Open Spaces (see page 2). Lola will continue to develop complements to the film project including a curriculum and resources for teachers and students.
Terence Wesley-Smith was an invited speaker at the 48th University of Otago Foreign Policy School held in Dunedin, New Zealand, 28–30 June 2013. The conference addressed the topic “Pacific Geopolitics in the 21st Century,” and Terence’s paper was called “Islands on the Move: China and Changing Relations of Power in Oceania.” In Auckland, Terence hosted a dinner for newly hired CPIS faculty Moana Nepia, 2012 Fulbright–Creative Pacific Writer-in-Residence Daren Kamali, and former UH Professor Robert Sullivan. Terence also met with Leilani Tamu, who will join the center in September as the 2013 Pacific Writer-in-Residence, and discussed plans for a joint conference to be held in Tahiti in June 2014 with Eric Conte (President, Université Polynésie Française), Leopold Mu Si Yan (Université Polynésie Française), and Steve Ratuva (University of Auckland). In Wellington, Terence made a short visit to Victoria University’s Vaʻaomanu Pasifika to catch up with Pacific studies colleagues Teresia Teaiwa and April Henderson, as well as CPIS BA student Ronia Auelua, who is there on a summer exchange program.
CPIS Managing Editor Jan Rensel and her husband, UHM Anthropology Emeritus Professor Alan Howard, presented two papers at the 2013 meeting of the Association for Social Anthropology in Oceania (ASAO) in San Antonio, Texas, in February. In a symposium titled “Photographing Islanders,” Jan and Alan’s presentation was “The Valuation of Visual Repatriation: Rotuman Responses.” Stu Dawrs, Senior Pacific Specialist Librarian at the UHM Hamilton Library and CPIS affiliate faculty member, was the discussant for the symposium. 
In another session called “Mobilities of Return,” Jan and Alan gave a paper on “The Rotuman Experience with Reverse Mobility.” Jan and Alan are ASAO officers—archivist and membership chair/website manager, respectively.
CPIS affiliate faculty member Fa‘anofo Lisaclaire Uperesa (UHM Ethnic Studies & Sociology) co-organized an ASAO session titled “ Contemporary Sporting Formations in Oceania,” in which she gave a paper on “Community Histories of Sport and the Political Economy of the ‘Polynesian Pipeline.’” Lisa also serves on the ASAO Board of Directors and is now chair-elect of the association.
Jan Rensel presented a paper at the 19th annual conference of the New Zealand Studies Association, held 27–29 June at Radboud University, Nijmegen, The Netherlands, and cosponsored by the Centre for Pacific and Asian Studies there. The conference theme was “New Zealand and the South Pacific,” and Jan’s presentation (coauthored with Alan Howard) was titled “Rotumans in New Zealand: Adaptation and Identity.”
CPIS specialist Julie Walsh, along with CPIS TA Josie Howard, participated in a symposium at the annual conference of the American Psychological Association (APA) held in Honolulu in August 2013, “Implementing Cultural Competency: Mental Health Service Delivery for Micronesian Populations and Implications for Multicultural Communities.” Other participants in the symposium included Robyn Kurasaki, PhD; Sheldon Rikon, MD; Brocula Palsis, RN; Barbara Tom, RN; and Patrick Uchigakiuchi, PhD
Julie Walsh and Josie Howard also serve as ongoing members of a Diocese of Honolulu committee regarding integration of Catholics from Micronesia into Hawaiʻi’s parish churches. They jointly presented a cultural orientation for clergy to an audience of 65 deacons and priests on 8 August 2013. The description and video of their presentation, “‘Who is My Neighbor?’ Chuukese Catholic Immigrants in Hawaiʻi” may be found at and
A group of SPAS faculty, including CPIS specialist Julie Walsh, Eric Harwit (UHM Center for Chinese Studies), and Carl Hefner (Kapi‘olani Community College) served as consultants with the US Navy’s Center for Language, Regional Expertise, and Culture in the preparation of its Operational Cultural Awareness Training for a limited number of Asian and Pacific Island nations.
Julie was also invited to provide eight hours of cultural competency training to the Hawaiʻi State Department of Labor and Industrial Relations’ One-Stop Service Center staff on 12 and 14 August 2013.
In July, CPIS Associate Professor Tarcisius Kabutaulaka attended the World Bank Praxis discussions in Sydney, Australia. Tarcisius spoke on a panel, “Conflict and Transition,” with Rebecca Byrant, Assistant Director-General at AusAID; Joseph Foukona, Australian National University; and Professor Anthony Zwi, School of Social Sciences UNSW, which can be viewed at He then went to Cairns in Northern Queensland to attend the annual meeting of the International Advisory Board for the Cairns Institute at James Cook University. Tarcisius has served as a member of the advisory board for the past three years. He was also there to celebrate the opening of the Cairns Institute building.
Tarcisius has been working on a library project for Avuavu Secondary School, at his home on the Weather Coast of Guadalcanal in Solomon Islands. In the past year he has organized the collection of books from Australia, New Zealand, and Hawaiʻi. More than 100 boxes of books have been shipped to this secondary school in the remote Weather Coast.
Over the coming year, Tara will continue working with Fijian filmmaker Larry Thomas to complete a film about the Solomon Islands conflicts. A preview of the film may be viewed at
CPIS Administrative Assistant Charlotte (Coco) Needham has completed a Bachelors of Social Work Myron B Thompson, School of Social Work (MBTSSW). At commencement, she proudly wore the Phi Alpha Nu Sigma Honor Society stole earned from the MBTSSW Honor Society. She is currently completing her research project with support from an Honors Program Undergraduate Research Opportunity Grant. Coco is participating in the Ka Huli Ao LSAT Preparation Course through the Center for Native Hawaiian Excellence in Law.
Congratulations to CPIS affiliate faculty who were awarded promotion in May 2013. Caroline Sinavaiana (English) promoted to professor. Jaimey Hamilton Faris (Art/Art History) was awarded tenure and promotion to associate professor. Alex Golub (Anthropology) was awarded tenure and promotion to associate professor.
Congratulations to Noelani Goodyear-Kaʻōpua (Political Science), who received the Chancellor’s 2013 Citation for Meritorious Teaching.
Congratulations to David Hanlon, who has been appointed chair of the UHM History Department, and to Ty Kāwika Tengan, now chair of the UMH Ethnic Studies Department.


The Center for Pacific Islands Studies (CPIS) recently hosted an international conference on climate change that brought together policy makers, academics, community workers, and students from Hawai‘i and a number of Pacific Island countries. The conference, titled “Waves of Change: Climate Change in the Pacific Islands and Implications for Hawaiʻi,” was held at the Hawaiʻinuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge on the University of Hawaiʻi–Mānoa campus  4–6 April 2013.  In addition to the center’s faculty members, the conference advisory committee included Jerry Finin and Melissa Finucane (East-West Center), Ulla Hassager (Ethnic Studies Department), Joakim Peter (College of Education), Maxine Burkett (Richardson School of Law), and Joshua Cooper (UH West Oʻahu). Several pre-conference programs were designed to initiate discussions around climate-change issues that were explored in more depth during the conference. A seminar and film series included a range of faculty members, students, activists, researchers, and community members.
Students from Kaimukī High School’s (KHS) Imua Program participated in a curriculum to prepare for the conference. Their participation was academic and practical and is described in a separate article by Jocelyn Howard. The curriculum was created and taught by community leaders and faculty and students from the  UH Mānoa and KHS under the leadership of Nelson Ikaika Fernandez (Pālolo Science Discovery Center), James Skouge and Joakim Peter (UHM College of Education), Leslie Harada and Lisa Shimokawa (STEM and Imua, KHS), Lola Quan Bautista, and Ulla Hasager. In addition to the academic and media-learning outcomes, the high school participation helped to strengthen relationships among Pacific Islander youth groups.
Minister Tony de Brum, Senator J Kalani English, and Tarcisius Kabutaulaka with Kaimukī High School students at the keynote address, photo by Leonard Leon.
The conference began with a keynote address by the Honorable Tony de Brum, Minister and Assistant to the President of the Republic of the Marshall Islands. Minister de Brum highlighted the need for global action to address climate change, especially by the “earth’s polluters.” He said that small island nations like the Marshall Islands have done their part to combat climate change, often in ways “disproportionate to their size, population, their financial capabilities, or their economic status.” The remaining two days of featured speakers and panels focused on issues such as the potential for climate change–related migrations and the implications for metropolitan centers like Hawaiʻi, community responses to climate change, climate change and indigenous knowledge, and the legal issues surrounding climate change, particularly related to human rights. Topics by featured speakers included an overview of significant climate change issues by Noah Idechong, discussion of policy issues by Ambassador Asterio Takesy, implications of migration by John Campbell, and an example of a community toolkit by Willy Kostka. Panelists presented a diverse range of research and personal experiences from Pohnpei, Chuuk, Guam, Fiji, Hawaiʻi, and beyond. The KHS students attended all of the conference events and had personal interactions with many of the conference speakers and participants during interview sessions. The students’ interviews with conference participants will be made available online as part of an attempt to create awareness about climate change in high schools in Hawaiʻi. Participants celebrated the conclusion of the conference with an inspiring evening of poetry, music, and food organized by Craig Santos Perez and Brandy Nālani McDougall (UHM English Department) with performances by several CPIS students.
The conference initiated important discussions that the center hopes to continue through future programs, including a course with a focus on climate change in fall 2013. The working idea is that the course will culminate with students participating at an international conference on climate change or working with communities.
The center is grateful for the generosity and support of the conference sponsors, including the Pacific Islands Development Program at the East-West Center, the Office of Hawaiʻi State Senator J Kalani English, ʻŌlelo Community Media; UH Mānoa’s School of Pacific and Asian Studies, Hawaiʻinuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge, Ethnic Studies Department, College of Social Sciences, and Office of Student Equity, Excellence and Diversity (SEED); and Joe Nalo and Art Stret Gallery for providing the conference artwork Save the Sinking Art & Culture (2012). ʻŌlelo Community Media filmed the conference proceedings and has made the keynote address available online at Announcements about online access to the other conference sessions and the Kaimukī High School interviews will be posted on the CPIS website and Facebook page.


By Candi Steiner, Ethnomusicology PhD Student and CPIS Graduate Assistant
On 4 April 2013, CPIS graduate assistants Jesi Lujan Bennet, Jocelyn Howard, Kelea Levy, and Candi Steiner, with the help of CPIS faculty and staff, hosted “Oceania Rises,” the center’s first student conference. The event, open to both undergraduate and graduate students, was designed to foster multicultural, pan-Pacific unity that privileges Pacific Islander voices; to raise awareness of Pacific Island cultures on the UH Mānoa campus; and to promote new ways of “doing academia” that build on interdisciplinary approaches to research. Themes included empowerment, self-expression, and academic innovation.
Turnout was excellent for all of the event’s panels, which included art displays, poetry readings, and paper presentations on various Pacific Islands–related topics. As a special treat, Dr Lola Quan Bautista’s PACS 603 students presented on their capstone research progress, offering the community a glimpse of the kinds of projects that CPIS students undertake in the MA program. The organizing team would again like to thank everyone who made this successful event possible. The conference program is still available for viewing online at the conference’s Facebook page:

Pan Pacific Association at the “Waves of Change” Conference

By Karin Louise Hermes, CPIS MA Student and Pan Pacific Association Secretary 2012–2013
For the opening ceremony reception of the “Waaves of Change” conference on Thursday 4 April 2013, Pan Pacific Association (PPA) coordinated and performed several Pacific songs and dances to welcome conference attendees from all over Oceania. PPA President David Dugucanavanua recruited singers and dancers from PPA, his hula halau (Ka Liko Pua o Kalaniakea), and UHM’s Polynesian InterVarsity ministry chapter (Hui Poly) to perform at this event. After several weeks of intense practice, PPA performed three dances in addition to contributions by Hui Poly and Ka Liko Pua o Kalaniakea. These three group dances emphasized the pan-Pacific spirit of PPA’s members and were taught by the PPA members in the 9th floor lounge of the East-West Center’s Hale Manoa dormitory: a Solomon Islands shark dance was led by Derek Mane, the always-popular Fijian raude was led by David Dugucanavanua, and Sandrine Meltewomu, from Vanuatu, taught a Kanaky dance from New Caledonia, where her mother is from. The dancers’ costumes were a combination of black and red lava-lavas, as well as skirts, assorted body ornaments, and accessories made from ti leaves by the dancers during a sleepless night on April 3. Since PPA activities this semester revolved around learning and practicing these dances, they gave a crowd-pleasing encore performance of the three dances as the final act of the East-West Center Participant Association’s “East-West Fest” the following week, on April 13.

“Waves of Change” and Kaimukī High School

By Jocelyn Howard, School of Social Work and CPIS MA Student
The April 4–6 “Waves of Change” conference brought many different people to the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. Among them were students from Kaimukī High School, located down the road from UHM campus. These students are part of the STEM and Media Projects of the Imua and the Pālolo Pipeline programs, which focus on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Their participation in the conference was to help them learn about climate change and how it is affecting the Pacific, their home countries, their lives and the lives of their future children, and media training. My service learning involved planning for how these students could prepare before the conference, mentoring students during the conference, and providing feedback for video editing after the conference.
The students visited UH Mānoa two times prior to the conference, during which they watched films on climate change, listened to presentations by Pacific Islander students—including myself—about how climate change has affected their communities, learned interviewing skills, learned techniques for video recording as well as how to interact among themselves and with the UH students and faculty.
The part of my service-learning project that I enjoyed the most was working with the students during the conference. The students had the opportunity to meet the keynote speaker, Minister Tony de Brum from the Marshall Islands, listen to his message, and conduct an interview with him to further explore the subject of climate change. The students interviewed other conference speakers including HE Ambassador Takesy from the Federated States of Micronesia to the United State of America. The students also participated in giving lei to the conference speakers.  Overall the opportunity to have this service learning has been a crucial part of my learning in the Pacific Islands Studies program. It allowed me to put theory into practice, serve my community, and learn from my community to be a better student, researcher, service provider, as well as community advocate. I would encourage every student in the program to do service learning.

I Finakmatan I Hila’ta (The Awakening of the Tongue)

By Kenneth Gofigan Kuper, CPIS MA Student
“I Finakmatan I Hila’-ta” or “The Awakening of the Tongue” is a service-learning project dedicated to perpetuating the Chamorro language. Kenneth Gofigan Kuper and Brant Songsong teach Chamorro language every Saturday from 10:00–11:15 am at Kakaʻako Kitchen. Hawai‘i has a large Chamorro community and many of these Chamorros were born and raised here. These classes were started to help diasporic Chamorros connect to their roots through the language. This language class helps Chamorros to learn and speak the language of their ancestors and also serves as a social tool for Chamorros to get to know and support one another. Each week participants can meet new people and develop new friendships, thus forming a stronger sense of community. Ranging from 7 to 20 people per week, the language pocket has been successful and fun. Each class starts with a different lesson that ultimately leads to direct dialogue between the members. The lessons they learn can be used in conversation, so the pocket views each week as a building block for becoming conversational in Chamorro. Each week, an e-mail is sent out by the Marianas Club at UH Mānoa providing a vocabulary list and lesson worksheet for that week’s class. This helps people to get familiar with the concepts beforehand and also allows those who are not able to attend to keep up with the lessons. This project has been a Chamorro community collaboration and will only continue to grow as more Chamorros find out that they can learn the language free of charge!
If you would like to learn the Chamorro language also, please feel free to contact Kenneth Gofigan Kuper at and the Marianas Club at These classes are for everyone, whether Chamorro or not, and only require an open mind, pencil, and paper. We hope you will join the effort to keep the Chamorro language alive and spoken!

Foods of the Pacific Islands

By Juliette Budge, Urban and Regional Planning PhD Student
While helping in an afterschool and workforce-training class in Kalihi-Palama, I got to know a group of women who often cook for events in the community. I asked if they would be willing to share their knowledge of some Pacific Island foods with me. The women agreed to cook on-camera and the foods were identified with the help of children from the afterschool program, who chose three of their favorite dishes to focus on.
Fried fish with sweet potato and taro was the first meal filmed. The chefs—Marie Akitekit, Asarina Yerten, and Ignacia Terno from Chuuk—explained the process as they skillfully prepared the meal at Shem Hall in Kalihi-Palama. The end result was not only delicious but also a record of their valuable cultural knowledge.
The next cooking segment focused on tapioca. The chef was Rakei Aunu from Chuuk. Filming began in Chinatown as Rakei navigated the shops with precise knowledge of the place that would have the ingredients she needed. Back in the kitchen, she stirred, kneaded, wrapped, and boiled the roots. While preparing and cooking, she told stories about learning to cook and the meaning of these foods for her family.
The final film was about otai, a Tongan specialty made with watermelon, pineapple, and coconut. With the help of Mina Ikavuka, Fane Lino, and Lilette Subedi, thirty children in an afterschool program set up stations for each fruit. They harmoniously went to work cutting, shredding, and juicing each ingredient. Fane showed the teenagers how to split the coconut without spilling the juice, and Villiami Lino, Fane’s son, taught the younger children how to shave off the white flesh of the coconut without scraping the shell.
The preparation of these foods was enjoyed by all participants. The short films will be screened in the afterschool program and will hopefully contribute to the interesting culinary and cultural knowledge that is here in the Islands.

Grant Writing as Part of Service Learning

By Keali‘i MacKenzie, CPIS MA Student
For my PACS 603 service-learning project, I wrote a SEED grant application. SEED stands for Student Equity, Excellence, and Diversity. The purpose of these grants is to address issues on ethnicity, race, gender, sexual orientation, disabilities, and culture. These may be projects that take place on campus or in the community.
With my background and connections to the Hawai‘i slam poetry community, I wanted to pursue a project involving poetry. Fortunately, I knew of the nonprofit organization Pacific Tongues. According to their Facebook page, their mission is “to provide a safe and central location in the Hawaiian Islands to facilitate a cross-cultural exchange within Pacific influenced populations through spoken arts education. Our commitment is to honor the practice of kuleana (responsibility or privilege in the Hawaiian language) through creative workshops, public events and pedagogical development.”
I was naturally drawn to Pacific Tongues’ commitment to creative workshops in the public school system. I worked with Jason Mateao and Melvin Won Pat Borja, two of the co-founders, to propose a project that SEED could fund. We decided to apply for funds for a poet to conduct workshops with students in an O‘ahu public high school. These workshops would focus on creative writing as means of expression and an avenue to improve the students’ self-confidence.
Although we were not awarded a SEED grant, this project taught me about the potential for partnerships between the university and arts-focused nonprofit organizations. Institutions such as the University of Hawai‘i and Pacific Tongues have distinct strengths that can be used to foster a vibrant creative arts community, which I believe is essential for students’ success at all education levels. The programs organized by Pacific Tongues are vital to unleashing the creativity of Pacific Islander and Kanaka Maoli students. Lastly, the experience of applying for a grant was very useful. This is a vital skill for students and those who do community-based work.