Narratives and Images of Pacific Island Women

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Winner of the Adele Mellen Prize for Distinguished Contribution to Scholarship

While oral narratives and feminist scholarship have merged in recent years, literally giving voice to women from cultures around the world, the voices of Pacific Island women have been largely absent. This volume begins to bring their lives and perspectives into the expanding discourse on the Pacific and on contemporary women and their cultures.

The work is a collection of interviews and photographs gathered in an extensive women's oral history project funded by Brigham Young University- Hawai'i. The selected narratives include indigenous women from Aotearoa/New Zealand, the Cook Islands, Fiji, Hawai'i, Kiribati, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, and Tonga. They establish significant distinctions and commonalities among Pacific Island women and also between island women and those outside the Pacific.


“The stories of these phenomenal Pacific Islander women are provocative and inspirational. Their voices are brought to life, honored, and well portrayed within the covers of this book, making a significant contribution to an extremely limited existing literature on Pacific Islanders, particularly Pacific Islander women. The contents of this book will definitely inform practice, theory, policy, and future research focusing on marginalized women populations … Debbie Hippolite Wright, Kathleen Ward, and Rose Ram have done an admirable job in honoring these Pacific Islander women by recognizing the authenticity of their stories told in their own voices. I highly endorse this book and its authors, and hope that it will inspire self-assessment and advocacy for change in the person and the multiple systems in which the person exists.” – (from the Commendatory Preface) Dr. Halaevalu Vakalahi, San Francisco State University

“I must applaud the work of professors Hippolite Wright, Ward, and Ram. The work they have produced allows the reader to not only comprehend but to feel and touch, to be connected to the women themselves in such a way that it takes away any artificiality and presents the voices in their truest sense. As an academician who focuses on women's issues, I consider this book to be a valuable addition to literature of this population that is almost non-existent. Many discussions lump Pacific Islanders into one grouping, thus disallowing any in- depth study of intra group differences. This work, written in a sensitive, culturally relevant way, using a methodology that is appropriate to the subject matter, will serve as a useful commentary for academicians with a focus on multicultural studies, women's studies, and studies with a historical and geographical focus. The value of this contribution is not reserved just for those in higher education; its relevance is noted as well for any who aspire to increase their scope of understanding of the dynamics associated with the roles of women in specific cultures. I recommend this text without reservations for any who wish to increase their awareness of Pacific Island women and to use it as a model for accurate representation of such research.” – Bonnie F. Hatchett Ph.D., ACSW, Biedenharn Endowed Chair Gerontology Program, University of Louisiana Momoe

“In the world of academia where authentic voices are oftentimes reduced to a mere collection of numbers and figures, this volume presents significant data that is unprocessed, thereby allowing advantaged insights of issues relative to Pacific-Islander women. This book offers invaluable data that remains pure and authentic. Each documented story exceeds the informational purpose of printed text. The emotions and feelings of these Pacific Islander women are embedded in print through their own voices. This book offers a heightened understanding of the issues and challenges faced by many Pacific Islander women. Hippolite Wright, Ward, and Ram will enlighten many through their purposeful methodology that maintains academic research standards without compromising cultural integrity. I commend the team for recognizing the value of these voices and for setting the precedence in supreme research methodology by presenting untouched data in their collection. Through personal reverence for the traditions of the past throughout their research endeavors, they have succeeded in gathering powerful insights that will affect all generations, present and future, for good. I recommend this priceless text to all as it will increase understanding of Pacific Islander women and will undoubtedly inspire all to do many great things.” – H. Ka'umealani K. Walk, M.Ed Jonathan Napela Center for Hawaiian Language and Cultural Studies Brigham Young University-Hawai'i

Table of Contents

Foreword by Vernice Wineera
Preface by Halaevalu Vakalahi
1. An Introduction
2. Aotearoa / New Zealand
3. Cook Islands
4. Fiji
5. Hawai’i
6. Samoa
7. Tonga
8. More Islands

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