Professor Richard Moyle

JP(ret), LTCL, MA, PhD


Richard Moyle, former Director of the Centre for Pacific Studies, is a graduate of The University of Auckland. He held teaching positions at Indiana University and the University of Hawaii at Manoa, and for eight years was a Research Fellow at the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies in Canberra. He came to Pacific Studies after 22 years in the Department of Anthropology. For 17 years Richard was also Director of the Archive of Maori and Pacific Music.

Richard's research career spans 50 years, including 10 years of fieldwork in Samoa, Tonga, Fiji, Niue, the Northern Cook Islands, Central Australia, and Takū. His many books include landmark volumes on the musics of Samoa, Tonga, Takū, the Pintupi, Alyawarra and Kukatja Aboriginal tribes, and also bilingual collections of oral tradition from Samoa, Tonga and Takū. He was the first ethnomusicologist to receive a Marsden Grant. He has judged more than 100 church choir competitions in Auckland and Wellington, and is the only palagi to be a Chief Judge for choirs at Teuila, Samoa's national competition event. Richard’s 2011 bilingual ethnographic dictionary of Takū sold out within a year of publication, and his fourth monograph on the culture of this remote Polynesian atoll, a study of Takū ritual and belief in practice, was published in 2018.

Richard’s time is divided between New Zealand and Australian universities, where he lectures and mentors graduate research students. He is also Adjunct Professor at the Queensland Conseratorium of Music Research Centre.

Research | Current

  • Creation of web platforms to enhance the learning of Samoan and Tongan languages

In late 2015 Richard's audio collection of more than 800 Samoan items recorded in the 1960s was made available from a web platform hosted by the Archive of Maorti and Pacific Music. His extensive Tongan audio collection is currently being prepared for public access.


Adjunct Professor, Queensland Conservatorium of Music Research Centre

Guest Speaker, Sounds of Samoana ethnomusicology forum, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017.


For more than two decades Richard has been an Expert Assessor for the Australian Research Council on funding applications relating to ethnomusicology.

Areas of expertise

  • Polynesian music, especially Samoa, Tonga, Takū
  • Australian Aboriginal music, especially Central Australia
  • Biingual editions of Polynesian oral tradition
  • Web-based learning of Samoan language
  • Convenor of graduate workshops on interviewing, and fieldwork ethics

Committees/Professional groups/Services

Member, editorial board, Pacific Studies, Journal of Samoan Studies.

Member, Australian Institute for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islands Studies

Perennial Expert Assessor, Australian Research Council

Life Member, Auckland Institute and Museum, International Council for World Music, Society for Ethnomusicology.

Honorary Life Member, The Polynesian Society

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

  • MOYLE, R. (2016). RITUAL AND BELIEF ON TAKU Polynesian Religion in Practice.
  • Moyle, R. (2009). Islands archiving. International Association of Audiovisual Archiving (IASA) Journal, 32, 64-68. Related URL.
  • Moyle, R. (2009). An island within: Performance and function of lluu songs on Takuu Atoll. In E. Mackinlay, B.-L. Bartleet, K. Barney (Eds.) Musical Islands: Exploring connections between music, place and research (pp. 58-69). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Scholars.
  • Moyle, R. (2007). Introduction. In R. M. Moyle (Ed.) Oceanic music encounters : The print resource and the human resource : Essays in honour of Mervyn McLean (pp. vii-ix). Auckland, NZ: Anthropology Department, University of Auckland.
  • Moyle, R. (2007). Taking five: Quintuple metre in Taku tuki songs. In R. M. Moyle (Ed.) Oceanic music encounters: The print resource and the human resource: Essays in honour of Mervyn McLean (pp. 123-132). Auckland, NZ: Anthropology Department, University of Auckland.
  • Moyle, R. (2007). Mervyn Evan McLean, a biography. In R. M. Moyle (Ed.) Oceanic music encounters: The print resource and the human resource: Essays in honour of Mervyn McLean (pp. ix-xii). Auckland, NZ: Anthropology Department, University of Auckland.
  • Moyle, R. M. (2007). Songs from the second float: A musical ethnography of Taku Atoll, Papua New Guinea. Honolulu, Hawaii: Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawaii Press. Pages: 321.
  • Moyle, R. M. (2003). Nä kkai Takü: Takü's musical fables. Boroko, Papua New Guinea: Institute of Papua New Guinea Studies.

Contact details

Alternative contact

07 8684561

Primary office location

New Zealand

Web links