Dr Phyllis Sharon Herda

BA (Arizona), MA (Auckland), PhD (ANU)

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Senior Lecturer

Research | Current

  • Social anthropolgy
  • Women's studies
  • Polynesia: textiles, oral traditions as history, disease and colonialism, issues of gender, status and power

Phyllis has trained in Anthropology and Pacific History. Her research and writing has focused on gender, politics and colonialism in the Polynesian past and present.

Phyllis is currently completing two research projects:

1) A Plague on Paradise: The 1918 Influenza Pandemic in Western Polynesia.

This project is a study of the relationship between European colonialism and the spread of the 1918 influenza pandemic in western Polynesia. Archival research was undertaken on this project in the British Library and Public Records Office (United Kingdom), Mitchell Library and the Business and Labour Archives, Australian National University (Australia), Hamilton Library and the Library of Congress (United States), National Library and the National Archives (Aotearoa/New Zealand). Oral history fieldwork was conducted in Tonga and Aotearoa New Zealand;

2) The Creation of a New Tradition: Women’s Quilting in Polynesia.

This project explicates the social and aesthetic practices and values embodied in Polynesian quilting. It explores how patterns of exchange and kinship between island groups are and have been negotiated by women in the establishment of a quilting aesthetic as well as a diversely commodified art form. Research was undertaken at the American Museum in Britain, the Victoria and Albert Museum, Bowes Museum, Worthing Museum (United Kingdom) and the Shelburne Museum, New England Quilt Museum, Old Sturbridge Village, Museum of American Folk Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Library of Congress, DAR Museum, Bishop Museum, and Honolulu Academy of the Arts (United States). Fieldwork was undertaken in Tonga, Hawai’i and Aotearoa New Zealand. Fieldwork is planned for the Cook Islands and Society Islands.

Teaching | Current

ANTHRO 104 Peoples and Cultures of the Pacific

ANTHRO 204 Ethnography of Island Polynesia

ANTHRO 215 Human Sexuality

ANTHRO 358 Gender and Colonialism in the Pacific

ANTHRO 753 Practising Ethnographic Research Methods


Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

  • Herda, P., & Lythberg, B. (2014). Featherwork and divine chieftainship in Tonga. Journal of the Polynesian Society, 123 (3), 277-300. Related URL.
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Billie Lythberg
  • Herda, P. S. (2014). Introduction: Writing the lives of some extraordinary Polynesian women. Journal of the Polynesian Society, 123 (2), 107-112. 10.15286/jps.123.2.107-112
  • Futter-Puati, D., Bryder, L., Park, J. K., Littleton, J., & Herda, P. (2014). Partnerships for health: Decimating tuberculosis in the Cook Islands, 1920-1975. Health and Place, 25, 10-18. 10.1016/j.healthplace.2013.10.006
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/23238
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Julie Park, Judith Littleton, Linda Bryder
  • Herda, P. (2012). Treaty to Treaty: A History of Early New Zealand from the Treaty of Tordesillas 1494 to the Treaty of Waitingi 1840, vol 2, 1494-1799 Western Powers Reach Out to the East and Pacific Ocean. JOURNAL OF THE POLYNESIAN SOCIETY, 121 (4), 421-422.
  • Herda, P. S. (2012). Colonising TB: The Western Pacific High Commission's Response. Paper presented at Pacific History Association Conference 2012, Victoria University, Wellington. 6 December - 8 December 2012. Related URL.
  • Herda, P. S. (2011). Operation Bleacher: The American Presence in Tonga During WWII. Paper presented at 14th Tongan Research Association conference, selection process applied, Nuku'alofa, Tonga. 11 July - 16 July 2011.
  • Herda, P. S. (2011). Migrating Genders: Westernisation, Migration, and Samoan Fa'afafine. New Zealand Sociology, 26 (2), 137-138.
  • Herda, P. S. (2011). The Malaspina Expedition in Vava'u 1793. Special Issue of New Zealand and the EU: Revisiting the Malaspina Expedition: Cultural Contacts and Contexts, 6 (2), 37-57.
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/17608

Contact details

Primary location

Level 8 , Room 810
New Zealand