Dr Sarina Riye Pearson

MAVA (USC), PhD (Auckland)


I joined Media, Film and Television in 2003 after completing my PhD at the University of Auckland. I have a Masters in Visual Anthropology from the University of Southern California and a BA in Anthropology from the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Research | Current

  • Postcolonial popular screen culture in the Pacific
  • South seas cinema
  • Short film production and criticism
  • Documentary production and criticism
  • Visual anthropology
  • Digital storytelling

I am interested in how cultural production reflects dynamics of power, affect and subjectivity. I am currently working on three research projects. The first examines Hollywood cinema in the Pacific. I am particularly interested in the production of South Seas films and television, the distribution of Hollywood film throughout Pacific islands and the cultural and creative responses that these films engendered. My second project examines short film production as a creative and cultural practice and my third project explores digital storytelling in the Pacific as a mode of grassroots documentary. In addition to my academic research I have also produced short films, television documentaries and a television sketch comedy series.

Teaching | Current

MEDIA 231 Eco/media

MEDIA 332 Eco/media

Postgraduate supervision

I supervise postgraduate academic dissertations and theses as well as creative research projects. Some of my students have undertaken research projects in television studies, documentary, food and cinema, and media and multilculturalism. I have also supervised the production of dramatic short films and short documentaries.


Undergraduate Studies Teaching and Learning Coordinator for Media, Film and Television

Areas of expertise

Postcolonial Popular Screen Culture in the Pacific

South Seas Cinema

Short Film Production and Criticism

Documentary Production and Criticism

Visual Anthropology

Digital Storytelling

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

  • Williams, L., Gott, M., Moeke-Maxwell, T., Black, S., Kothari, S., Pearson, S., ... Hansen, W. W. (2017). Can digital stories go where palliative care research has never gone before? A descriptive qualitative study exploring the application of an emerging public health research method in an indigenous palliative care context. BMC Palliative Care, 1610.1186/s12904-017-0216-x
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/44468
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Shuchi Kothari, Tess Moeke-Maxwell, Lisa Williams, Merryn Gott
  • Pearson, S. (2017). Reel to real: Mimesis, playing Indian, and touring with The Vanishing Race in New Zealand 1927. In J. Mageo, E. Hermann (Eds.) Mimesis and Pacific transcultural encounters: Making likenesses in time, trade, and ritual reconfigurations (pp. 79-107). New York, USA: Berghahn.
  • Kothari, S., & Pearson, S. (29/6/2016). Farewell: Haere Atu Ra [Digital video], Premiere Future Landscapes Palliative Care Conference, School of Nursing, University of Auckland: School of Nursing.
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Shuchi Kothari
  • Pearson, S. R. (2016). Possum: A postcolonial feral allegory. Short Film Studies, 6 (1), 61-65. 10.1386/sfs.6.1.61_1
  • Pearson, S. R. (2016). New Zealand reality television: Hostile or hospitable?. In S. Rust, S. Monani, S. Cubitt (Eds.) Ecomedia: Key issues (pp. 118-140). Abingdon, UK: Taylor and Francis.
  • Williams, L., Moeke-Maxwell, T., Kothari, S., Pearson, S., Gott, M., Black S, ... Hansen, W. (2015). Is digital storytelling ka pai for New Zealand Māori? Using digital storytelling as a method to explore whanau end of life caregiving experiences: A pilot study. Paper presented at 4th International Public Health and Palliative Care Conference, Bristol, UK. 11 May - 16 May 2015. BMJ Supportive & Palliative Care. 10.1136/bmjspcare-2015-000906.72
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/36602
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Shuchi Kothari, Rosemary Frey, Merryn Gott, Lisa Williams, Tess Moeke-Maxwell
  • Pearson, S. R. (2015). Romanticism and reality on the G.C.: Transnational Maori on the Gold Coast. Pacific Studies, 38 (1-2), 253-271.
  • Pearson, S. R. (2014). Hollywood Westerns and the Pacific: John Kneubuhl and The Wild Wild West. Transformations (24) Related URL.


Contact details

Office hours

Semester 1 2017 Tuesday 3:00-4:15 and by appointment

Primary office location

Level 5, Room 523
New Zealand

Web links