Dr Melenaite Lolohea Taumoefolau

BA GCE (SPac), MA ESFL (Wales), PhD


  • Senior Lecturer in Pacific Studies,
  • Director of Pacific Language Studies

Melenaite holds an MProfStudies (First Class Hons) and PhD from The University of Auckland, an MA from The University of Wales (University College of North Wales, Bangor), and a BA and CGCEd from The University of the South Pacific, Suva. Melenaite was previously Principal of Tonga College and Senior Education Officer (Curriculum) in the Tongan Ministry of Education. She was the first Pasifika Woman to graduate with a PhD at The University of Auckland.

Research | Current

  • Pacific linguistics
  • Langage teaching and learning
  • Dictionary-making
  • Pacific vernacular literature.

Melenaite is researching words and lexical items in Tongan language for inclusion in a monolingual Tongan dictionary, funded by NZAID under the auspices of the Tonga Ministry of Education. Specifically, she is interested in archaic words, new words, and existing words that have developed or are developing new senses or meanings. Melenaite is also researching topics in Tongan linguistics, such as accentuation, parts of speech, and transitivity. This research will have implications for the kinds of grammatical information to be conveyed in the dictionary. Her research will also help Tongan literacy development and contribute to Pacific linguistics generally. Melenaite spends around eight weeks annually in Tonga working with Tongans on the dictionary, and also works with Tongans in Auckland.

Dr Melenaite Taumoefolau's Research

Teaching | Current

TONGAN 101 Tongan Language 1

TONGAN 201 Tongan Language 2

TONGAN 301 Tongan Language 3

PACIFIC 701 Pacific Language Studies

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

As of 29 October 2020 there will be no automatic updating of 'selected publications and creative works' from Research Outputs. Please continue to keep your Research Outputs profile up to date.
  • Taumoefolau, M. (2017). Analysis of the Tongan Democratic Party landslide. Paper presented at Pacific Critical Seminar Series, Auckland, New Zealand. 27 November - 27 November 2017.
  • Taumoefolau, M. (2017). The relational journey of Polynesian languages through time and space. In Va'ai UL, A. Casimira (Eds.) Relational Hermeneutics: Decolonising the mindset and the Pacific itulagi (pp. 151-163). Suva, Fiji: University of the South Pacific, Pacific Theological College.
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/39405
  • Taumoefolau, M. (2017). The cultural-linguistic making of the Tongan female self. In U. L. Vaai, U. Nabobo-Baba (Eds.) The relational self: Decolonising personhood in the Pacific (pp. 137-152). Suva, Fiji: University of the South Pacific Press.
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/39402
  • Reese, E., Ballard, E., Taumoepeau, M., Taumoefolau, M., Morton, S. B., Grant, C., ... Mohal, J. (2015). Estimating language skills in Samoan- and Tongan-speaking children growing up in New Zealand. First Language, 35 (4-5), 407-427. 10.1177/0142723715596099
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Susan Morton, Stuart McNaughton, Cameron Grant
  • Taumoefolau, M. (2013). Respect, solidarity, and resilience in Pacific world views: a counselling perspective. In C. O. Makasiale, P. Culbertson, M. Agee, T. McIntosh (Eds.) Pacific Identities and Well-being (pp. 131-145). Dunedin, New Zealand: Otago University Press.
  • Ballard, E. Y., Taumoefolau, M., & Charters, A. H. (2013). A Tongan adaptation of the Boston Naming test: rethinking the assessment of communication impairment in Tongan patients post-stroke. In N. Seve-Williams, M. Taumoepeau, E. Saafi (Eds.) Pacific edge : transforming knowledge into innovative practice : research papers from the fourth health research council of New Zealand Pacific Health Research Fono (pp. 88-99). New Zealand: Health Research Council of New Zealand. Related URL.
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Elaine Ballard
  • Taumoefolau, M. (2012). Tongan ways of talking. Journal of the Polynesian Society, 121 (4), 327-372. 10.15286/jps.121.4.327-372
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/41743
  • Taumoefolau, M. (2011). Decolonising Pacific Studies: Privileging Pacific Languages and Indigenous Knowledges. Talanoa Rhythms: Voices from Oceania (pp. 59-68). Auckland: Masilamea Press; Pasifika@Massey, Massey University.
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/16077

Contact details

Primary office location

Level 1, Room 102H
New Zealand