Emma Powell

Emma Powell explored ‘akapapa’anga—the Cook Islands Māori practice of genealogy making.

A profile image of Emma Powell.


Bachelor of Commerce & Administration (Public Policy), Victoria University of Wellington

Bachelor of Arts with Honours (English Literature, 1st Honours), Victoria University of Wellington

Master of Arts (1st Honours), University of Auckland

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Victoria University of Wellington


Emma Powell has completed her PhD in Pacific Studies (Va’aomanū Pasifika) at Victoria University of Wellington. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Public Policy and postgraduate qualifications in English Literature. Emma’s postgraduate research has focused on the contributions Cook Islands Māori writers have made to the literary and intellectual tradition of the Pacific region. In past work, she focused in particular on the first wave of Cook Islands Māori anglophone poets (1950s to the early 90s), many of whom were pioneers of Pacific anglophone literature more broadly.

Before beginning her PhD, Emma held various roles in the New Zealand public sector and local government, most recently assisting the Waitangi Tribunal as a research analyst and inquiry facilitator. She has also contributed to research projects in the areas of Pacific broadcasting and literature, and has held numerous pastoral, academic and research support roles across Victoria University of Wellington.

Emma’s doctoral research focused on ‘akapapa’anga, otherwise known as the Cook Islands Māori practice of genealogy making. With the comparatively small size of scholarly literature about Cook Islands Māori epistemologies and ontologies, the project proposes the efficacy of ‘akapapa’anga as an epistemological scale for contextualising historiography, geographies, and mobilities in the Cook Islands context. To illustrate this, Emma explored the praxis of ‘akapapa’anga during the annual constitution celebration of the Cook Islands, Te Maeva Nui.


Senior Lecturer · Director of Va'aomanū Pasifika
School of Languages and Cultures

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Emalani Case

Senior Lecturer in Maori History
School of History, Philosophy, Political Science and International Relations


Powell, E. E. N. (2013). Stitching to the Backbone: A Cook Islands literary tivaivai. (Master of Arts MA), University of Auckland, Auckland.

Powell, E. E. N. (2013). When We Came. SPAN: Journal of the South Pacific Association for Commonwealth Language and Literary Studies, 65 & 66, 120-121.

Powell, E. E. N. (2018). 50 years of Cook Islands writing: An Introduction. In R. Dixon & M. Crocombe (Eds.), Mana: 50 Years of Cook Islands Creative Writing in English and Cook Islands Māori. Rarotonga University of the South Pacific.

Tim Thorpe Consulting Ltd, Catalyst Pacific Ltd, S. C. L., Henderson, April, & Powell, E. E. N. (2012). Broadcast Programming for Pacific Audiences in New Zealand: A Research Report for NZ On Air. Wellington, New Zealand. PDF