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
  • Asian New Zealand representation and industry participation
  • Ecocriticism
  • Documentary production and criticism
  • Digital storytelling

I am interested in how cultural production reflects dynamics of power, affect and subjectivity. I am currently working on two 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 explores digital storytelling in Pacific communities and in ageing and palliative care. In addition to my academic research I have also produced short films, television documentaries, a television sketch comedy series and short animation.

Teaching | Current

SCREEN 300 - Documentary Videomaking

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 sound, food media and multilculturalism, ecocriticism and science fiction and facebook and identity.  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


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. (2014). Hollywood Westerns and the Pacific: John Kneubuhl and The Wild Wild West. Transformations (24) Related URL.
  • Pearson, S. R. (2014). Televisual transgender: hybridizing the mainstream in Pasifika New Zealand. In N. Besnier, K. Alexeyeff (Eds.) Gender on the Edge: Transgender, Gay, and Other Pacific Islanders (pp. 241-266). Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press.


Contact details

Office hours

Semester 2 2019 Thursdays 2-3 and by appointment

Primary office location

Level 5, Room 523
New Zealand

Web links