A close up image of a flower the a sign in the background that reads Va-aomanū Pasifika.

Va'aomanū Pasifika—Pacific Studies and Samoan Studies

Va'aomanū Pasifika makes distinctive contributions to the University's proud tradition of research, teaching and learning about the Pacific tradition.

Victoria University of Wellington has a proud tradition of research, teaching and learning about the Pacific. Va'aomanū Pasifika's Pacific Studies and Samoan Studies/Matā‘upu Tau Sāmoa programme aims to increase understanding of Pacific issues and to produce graduates who contribute to the development of Pasifika communities in New Zealand, the region and internationally.

Our students learn to think critically and creatively, developing strong skills in written and verbal communication and the ability to work collaboratively across diverse cultural contexts. These skills readily transfer to a range of careers, with our alumni finding success nationally and internationally in government and the public sector, education, information management, museum and heritage industries, non-governmental organisations, creative industries, and related careers.

Va'aomanū Pasifika means 'canoe/journey of good fortune' and, with staff internationally recognised in their fields, we can help you on your own journey of discovery and achievement. Va'aomanū Pasifika is also a hub for Pacific-focused research and has become Victoria University of Wellington's contact point for government agencies, research commentaries, liaison with our Pacific communities and public forums on Pacific-related issues.

Come visit us at Level 3 of the Old Kirk Building or join our online community in the Va'aomanū Pasifika Facebook group.

Teaching and learning

Teaching and learning in Va'aomanū Pasifika features:

  • holistic approaches, reflecting the way Pacific knowledge is constructed
  • the exploration of Pacific concepts and understandings through literature, material and performing arts, written and oral texts and narratives
  • flexibility, enabling students to select their fields of research and study (our Special Topic courses enable more in-depth study in the lecturers' special research field.)
  • engagement, relationship-building and knowledge exchanges with wider communities, such as in the Samoan programme’s Māfutaga and Pacific Studies programme’s Akamai events, participation in government consultation and community meetings, research and teaching networks with Te Papa, the Turnbull Library, Archives New Zealand and presentations/information sharing with government agencies, diplomatic posts, and local bodies such as Wellington City Council and NGOs
  • the understanding that language is central to culture and cultural understanding as reflected in the Samoan BA requirements and the language requirements for the Pacific Studies major in the BA
  • resource-building such as in the Tidal Pools website and the compilation of teaching resources by the Samoan Programme
  • exposing students, particularly postgraduates, to national and international forums (both Pacific and mainstream) and supporting students to present at these forums.

Scholarships and awards

There are a number of scholarships and awards available to students at Victoria University of Wellington, some of which are specifically for Pacific students. The Pasifika Hub website has a list of these scholarships and awards.

Community relationships

Staff and students in our Va'aomanū Pasifika programmes have strong linkages with the Pacific community locally, nationally, and in the wider Pacific region. We belong to a range of different Pacific communities including church groups, women’s committees, sports and art organisations. We value and nurture these relationships and draw Pacific elders and families into our learning journeys.

We are fortunate to have access to government departments, NGOs (international, national and local) and centres of art and culture, and we draw on these networks to enrich our programmes. Pacific festivals and performances are learning spaces for our Pacific and Samoan students as are our formal and informal meetings with Pacific community members.

Board of Samoan Studies

Our Board of Samoan Studies advises on the academic programme, and works to enhance engagement with internal and external stakeholders. The Board has community representation as well as wider University representation.


Membership is currently being constituted for the three-year term, 1 July 2018–30 June 2021.