Dr Melani Shyleen Anae

MA, PhD (Auckland)


Melani is  Associate Professor of Pacific Studies, Te Wananga o Waipapa, University of Auckland. Previously she was Senior Research Fellow for the Pacific Health Research Centre, School of Medicine, University of Auckland 1996-97. She lectured in the Anthropology Department 1998-2000. In 2000 she was appointed Senior lecturer in Pacific Studies at the Centre for Pacific Studies. She was Director of the Centre 2002-2006 and was instrumental in growing it from a small language-based programme into a collaborative hub for the study of Pacific culture, history, identity, art, language, performing arts and literature, all centred on a modern Fale Pasifika complex.

Research interests: Pacific identity and ethnicity, NZ born Samoans/communities, Pacific research methodologies and relational ethics,. social justice and human rights

Research | Current

  • Pacific identity and ethnicity
  • Pacific transnationalism
  • Pacific research methodologies and relational ethics

Melani's sustained leadership in research and teaching over the last 20 years lies in three interconnected strands – Pacific activism/social justice; Pacific empowerment/leadership and ethnic identity work; and a Liberating education/teu le va (relational ethics). Her transformational career has successfully developed strategies and research methodologies for improving research outcomes, policy formation and service delivery for Pacific peoples/families and communities across the sectors of leadership, education, health and wellbeing. Her experience, skills and expertise in these domains are recognised both locally and internationally and demonstrates substantial impact and reach.

As a Pacific Scholar/Researcher she aims to redefine what a Pacific Scholar and Pacific scholarship and research should be, particularly in the context of current global challenges such as the Covid-19 pandemic, climate change, and the calls for actions against rampant racism. She enhances Pacific scholarship through her research, teaching and service and effectively translates these to benefit the people and communities most affected, and to address current systemic shortfalls.

In her teens she was one of the foundational members of the Polynesian Panther Party and over the last 50 years has continued Polynesian Panther advocacy for human rights in Aotearoa. She has published extensively and is the author and co-editor of several recently published books in 2020, The Platform: The Radical Legacy of the Polynesian Panthers, Wellington: BWB Books; Women, Power and Place: Articulations from Samoa and Aotearoa, Special Edition of Pacific Studies Journal, Vol 43 - 1 June. Hawaii: Brigham Young University Press; A Handbook for Samoan Transnational Matai (Chiefs): Tusi faitau o matai fafo o Samoa. Christchurch:Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies, University of Canterbury.

Teaching | Current

PACIFIC 300 NZ-Born Pacific Identities

Postgraduate supervision

Melani supervises dissertation and thesis students in Pacific Studies, as well as others from other Faculties at the University.


2014     Marsden Grant (Transnational matai (chiefs))

2008     Companion to the Queen Service Order (QSO)

2007     Fulbright New Zealand Senior Scholar Award


Postgraduate Adviser, Director of Research, Pacific Studies

Theme Leader –Identity and Well-being, Te Whare Kura, University of Auckland Thematic Research Initiative

Areas of expertise

Pacific identity and ethnicity, Pacific transnationalism, Pacific research methodologies and relational ethics

Committees/Professional groups/Services

2021-           Member Kapuia Ministerial Advisory Group on Government’s response to the Royal Commission of                        Enquiry into Terrorism.

2021-           Board Member  Auckland Museum Trust Board

2014- 2019   Member of Families Commission

2011-2013, 2020-2021     Marsden Fund Social Sciences Panel

2016&2012   Member of SSOC Panel, Performance Based Research Fund (PBRF)

2010-2012     Member of Ministry of Education Pasifika Education Research Priorities Committee

2009-2012     Member of Pacific Reference Group - Growing up in New Zealand Study

2008-2012     Member of the Pacific Academy of BRCSS (Building Research Capacity in the Social Sciences)

2009-2012     Fulbright Selection Committee for US Fulbright Graduate Student Award Applications

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

As of 29 October 2020 there will be no automatic updating of 'selected publications and creative works' from Research Outputs. Please continue to keep your Research Outputs profile up to date.
  • Anae, M. (2019). Faamatai: A Globalized Pacific Identity. In S. Ratuva (Ed.) The Palgrave Handbook of Ethnicity (pp. ). Singapore: Palgrave, Macmillan. 10.1007/978-981-13-0242-8_85-1
  • Manuela, S., & Anae, M. (2017). Pacific youth, acculturation and identity: The relationship between ethnic identity and well-being - new directions for research. Pacific Dynamics: Journal of Interdisciplinary Research, 1 (1), 129-147.
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/38875
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Sam Manuela
  • Fetui, V., Anae, M., Tominiko, F., & Lima, I. (2017). Fa’aaloalo and its great importance in everyday lives: Transnational matai perspectives. Measina a Sāmoa, vol.7, 2016 Proceedings : E sui faiga, ae tumau faavae, 7, 205-226. National University of Sāmoa, Samoa: The Centre for Sāmoan Studies, National University of Sāmoa. Related URL.
  • Anae, M., Tominiko, S. F., Fetui, M. V., & Lima, M. I. (2017). Faavae o matai: Transnational women matai voices. Measina a Sāmoa, vol.7, 2016 Proceedings : E sui faiga, ae tumau faavae, 7, 185-204. National University of Sāmoa, Samoa: The Centre for Sāmoan Studies, National University of Sāmoa. Related URL.
  • Tominiko, F., Anae, M., Fetui, V., & Lima, I. (2017). The transnational matai and the foreign homeland; does the toloa still return to the water?. Measina a Sāmoa, vol.7, 2016 Proceedings : E sui faiga, ae tumau faavae, 7, 241-256. National University of Sāmoa, Samoa. Related URL.
  • Anae, M., Tominiko, F., Fetui, V., & Lima, I. (2017). Transnational Sāmoan chiefs: Views of the fa'amatai (chiefly system). The Journal of Samoan Studies, 7 (1), 38-50.
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/42725
  • Anae, M. (2016). Teu le va: Samoan relational ethics. Knowledge Cultures, 4 (3), 117-130.
  • Anae, M., Iuli, L., & Tamu, L. (Eds.) (2015). Polynesian Panthers : Pacific protest and affirmative action in Aotearoa New Zealand 1971-1981. Wellington, New Zealand: Huia Press. Pages: 153.


Contact details

Primary office location

Level 2, Room 201
New Zealand

Web links