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Melani Anae

Melani Anae author pic

Misatauveve Dr Melani Anae joined the Polynesian Panthers in 1971. She is now Senior Lecturer in Pacific Studies at the University of Auckland, is a mother of three and grandmother, and still lives in Ponsonby. 

June 2016 was the 45 year anniversary of the Polynesian Panther Party, so we asked Dr Anae a few questions. Here is five minutes with Dr Anae:

What are you reading at the moment?
Mostly non-fiction ... academic books/articles and Breaking Connections by Albert Wendt.

Who is your favourite fictional character?
‘Ola’ in the book Ola by Albert Wendt.

Why did you want to republish Polynesian Panthers?
Since the first print of Polynesian Panthers in 2006 there have been developments at the local and international level. Locally, changes to the New Zealand school curriculum (NCEA Level 1 History) has generated a new interest in Pacific history. Over the last four years, a dedicated group of Panthers, Will Ilolahia, Tigilau Ness, Alec Toleafoa and myself have been invited to seven South Auckland and inner-city secondary schools (some on an annual basis) to give seminars about the Panther experience. Feedback by history teachers has been overwhelmingly positive.

Secondly, since its publication two documentaries have been funded and produced – The Dawn Raids[1] and The Polynesian Panthers[2] which focused on issues that involved Panthers.

Thirdly, Black Panther Party artist Emory Douglas’ invitation by the New Zealand Arts community has resulted in several visits to New Zealand which has rekindled Black Panther Party links to the Polynesian Panthers. One of our members Tigilau Ness will be performing at The Black Panther USA 50th Anniversary later this year.

Fourthly, a new generation of more politicised Pacific youth are now seeking new images and role models, and new NZ-born and bred models and are seeking redress for new forms of racism today. For example the ‘I too am Auckland’ campaign in 2015, was instigated by a group of Law students who took my PACIFIC 300 ‘Growing up ethnic in New Zealand’ course and became inspired by a workshop on the Polynesian Panthers by Will Ilolahia, , Tigilau Ness, Alec Toleafoa and myself.

Which writers inspire you?
Noam Chomsky, Marshall Sahlins, Tui Atua Tamasese Tupuola Efi and Albert Wendt.

What was the hardest thing about writing Polynesian Panthers?
Obtaining Panther stories, and working with the huge amount of diverse historical data/information on the Polynesian Panthers over the years.

What would be your superpower?
META-SAMOA

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