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

MEDIA 231 Eco/media

MEDIA 332 Eco/media

SCREEN 300 Documentary Video Making

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.


Convenor of Media and Communication

School of Social Sciences Equity Liaison

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)

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.
  • Pearson, S. R., & Kothari, S. (15/10/2019). Elder Birdsong [animation], Show Me Shorts Film Festival 2019, Rialto Cinema.
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Shuchi Kothari
  • 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 researchmethod in an indigenous palliative care context. BMC Palliative Care, 1610.1186/s12904-017-0216-x
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Shuchi Kothari, Tess Moeke-Maxwell, Stella Black, Tessa Morgan, 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). 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.
  • 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.
  • Pearson, S. (2013). Persistent primitivisms: Popular and academic discourses about Pacific& Māori cinema and television. Journal of the Polynesian Society, 122 (1), 21-44. 10.15286/jps.122.1.21-44


Contact details

Office hours

Semester 2 2019 Thursdays 2-3 and by appointment

Primary office location

58 SYMONDS ST - Bldg 435
Level 5, Room 504
New Zealand

Web links