Deconstructing home: “The Return” in Pasifika writing of Aotearoa New Zealand

Emma Scanlon (Editor), Janet Wilson

    Research output: Contribution to Specialist PublicationSpecial issue


    This article examines changing representations of home and belonging in Pasifika writing from Aotearoa New Zealand from the 1970s to the 1990s. Although the circular pattern of movement between islands and to and from the Pacific rim centres continues, the increase in migration and growth of diaspora communities has led to the loosening of ties to the island homeland. Albert Wendt’s Sons for the Return Home (1975), Sia Figiel’s Where We Once Belonged (1996) and John Pule’s The Shark that Ate the Sun (1992) subvert western essentialized notions of the return motif with rewritings of home that invoke a sense of unbelonging. In the culturally hybrid production of New Zealand-born Pacific Islanders, these deconstructions are taken further: in Oscar Kightley and Simon Small’s play Fresh off the Boat (2005) the return is displaced by the concept of arrival, while the island homeland becomes partial and provisional, constructed from a distance.
    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages14
    Specialist publicationJournal of Postcolonial Writing
    Publication statusPublished - 7 Feb 2019

    Bibliographical note

    Janet Wilson is edi-in-chief of Journal of Postcolonial Writing and of the series Studies in World Literature (Ibidem Press). She has published widely on New Zealand/Aotearoa postcolonial and diaspora writing .


    • home and belonging
    • the return
    • Albert Wendt
    • Pasifika writing
    • John Pule
    • Sia Figiel
    • Oskar Kightley
    • Simon Small


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