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

Department: Department of Anthropology,


Course Title Availability in 2012
ANTHRO 204 Ethnography of Island Polynesia Semester 2
ANTHRO 358 Gender and Colonialism in the Pacific Not offered in 2012.
ANTHRO 744 Special Topic Not offered in 2012.

Dr Phyllis Herda's Teaching


Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

  • 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. 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.
  • 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
  • Herda, P. S. (2011). Operation Bleacher: Gender Relations in Tonga During WWII. Paper presented at Militarization During War and Peace in Oceania Symposium, University of Otago, Dunedin. 3 November - 4 November 2011.
  • Herda, P. S. (2011). The Malaspina Expedition in Vava'u, 1793. Paper presented at Revisiting the Malaspina expedition in the South Pacific: Cultural Contacts and contexts, roundtable colloquium by invitation only, University of Auckland, Auckland. 13 April - 13 April 2011.
  • Herda, P. S. (2011). Tivaevae: Women's Quilting in the Cook Islands. Paper presented at American Quilt Study Group conference, competitive selection process, Cherry Hill, New Jersey, USA. September - September 2011.

Contact details

Primary location

Level 8 , Room 810
New Zealand