Pasifika Englishes in New Zealand

Donna Starks, Andy Gibson, Allan Bell

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


This chapter considers forms of English spoken by Polynesian peoples in New Zealand. We start with a geographic description of the Pacific, situating Polynesia and its peoples and their economic and political positions in the region and outlining the effect these positions have had on the movement of people and on their language use. An increasing number of Polynesian communities are located outside their home islands, in largely anglophone nation states on the Pacific Rim, resulting in bilingualism and language shift to English. To describe the forms of English that emerge, we need an understanding of the similarities which bind together, and the differences which distinguish, Polynesian people of different ethnicities, ages and language backgrounds. As part of this process, we discuss the concept of pan-ethnic identities and language varieties, which conceal cultural differences whilst embracing similarities. Once the sociolinguistic context has been described, the second half of this chapter provides a comprehensive overview of the (limited) existing literature on the features of Pasifika Englishes in New Zealand. The ‘Pacific Islands’ is a cover term used to refer to the more than 20,000 islands located in a geographic area spanning many thousands of kilometres across the South Pacific Ocean. Much of this area is known as Oceania, and is comprised of three main groupings of islands: Micronesia, Melanesia and Polynesia. Micronesia is the area closest to the equator, and includes the islands of Guam, Palau, Nauru and Kiribati, amongst others. Melanesia refers to the group of westernmost islands. The area reaches to the islands of New Caledonia and Vanuatu, includes Papua New Guinea and parts of Indonesia, with Fiji at its most easterly point. This positioning means that Fiji is geographically closer to Polynesia than much of Melanesia, and has strong links with its Polynesian neighbours. While we do not cover Fijian English in this chapter, it is one variety of English in the Pacific islands that has been well described (Tent and Mugler 2008).

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFurther studies in the lesser-known varieties of English
EditorsJeffrey P. Williams, Edgar W. Schneider, Peter Trudgill, Daniel Schreier
Place of PublicationCambridge
PublisherCambridge University Press (CUP)
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9781139108652
ISBN (Print)9781107021204
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameStudies in English language


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