Tag Archives: Teresia Teaiwa

The news of Teresia Teaiwa is a sad loss for family, friends, teaching colleagues and students … and poetry


Teresia Teiawa 001.jpg


Mother by Teresia Teaiwa

The sky that
Makes possible
A lightening storm

The earth that
Makes possible
A volcano

The ocean that
Makes possible
A tidal wave

The parent
Who endures…outlives…
The child

(Searching for Nei Nim’anoa)


Poet, academic, and the director of Va’aomanu Pasifika at Victoria University in Wellington, Teresia Teaiwa, has died following a short illness.


Some links:

Victoria University page

A poem tribute from Lagipoiva Cherelle Jackson, contributor at Huffington Post



An E-Tangata interview in full  here:

‘Teresia Teaiwa is a poet and award-winning teacher at Victoria University, where she lectures in Pacific Studies — a field she’s described as “literally oceanic in proportions”, covering a region with 1,200 indigenous languages and 20,000 islands spread over a third of the earth’s surface. Here, she talks to Dale, about the complexities of the Pacific, why Pacific Studies matters, and her own complicated cultural heritage — as the child of an African American mother and a Banaban and I-Kiribati father whose community was relocated to Fiji because of British phosphate mining.

Teresia — a nice place to start, often, is names. So could you tell us about your whanau, your aiga, your mum and dad and where you were when you grew up?

I was born in Honolulu, Hawai‘i, but I was raised in Fiji.

Teaiwa is my grandfather’s first name. In Kiribati (pronounced Kiri-bas) it wasn’t customary to have last names. That was a colonial introduction. So my father took his father’s first name as his last name. My father is John Teaiwa. John wasn’t his birth name — that was the name the priest gave to him when he went to school.

Teaiwa is a name from the island of Tabiteuea in Kiribati, which is the largest island in the Gilbert Islands group. Teaiwa is composed of te meaning “the”, ai meaning “fire”, and wa meaning “canoe”. I like to interpret it as the fiery canoe. But when you look for the word aiwa in the dictionary, it has a less poetic rendering — agitation is one of the interpretations that comes to mind.’