Toeolesulusulu Damon Salesa Elected to Royal Academy for Distinction in Research and Outstanding Contribution to Pacific Studies



Samoa’s Toeolesulusulu Damon Salesa is amongst 27 Fellows recognised by the Royal Academy Te Apārangi for their distinction in research and advancement of science, technology or the humanities.

Associate Professor of Pacific Studies and Pro Vice-Chancellor (Pacific) at the University of Auckland, Toeolesulusulu is a prizewinning scholar who specialises in the study of colonialism, empire, government and race.

With a particular interest in the Pacific Islands, he also works on education, economics and development in the Pacific region, as well as in New Zealand and Australia.

After studying at the University of Auckland, he completed his studies at Oxford University.

The award recognises exceptional leaders in the communities and their areas of research and the advancement of knowledge at the highest international standards.

Fellows can use the post-nominal ‘FRSNZ’ after their name to indicate this honour.

Chair of the Academy Executive Committee Professor Charlotte Macdonald FRSNZ says it was pleasing to see a large cohort of Fellows elected this year, all with such exceptional expertise.

“The newly-elected Fellows have made amazing contributions to knowledge in their fields and across disciplinary boundaries. Their election adds significantly to the breadth of knowledge held within the Academy; they will help support the purpose of Te Apārangi to engage with and inform New Zealanders on topics important to all.”

“On behalf of the Academy and Society, I heartily congratulate all the new Fellows. The election process is rigorous and new Fellows can be rightfully proud that their outstanding achievements have been recognised by their peers in this way.”

Toeolesulusulu Damon Salesa, Associate Professor of Pacific Studies and Pro Vice-Chancellor (Pacific), University of Auckland

Toeolesulusulu Damon Salesa is renowned for his outstanding interdisciplinary contribution to Pacific Studies.

His research examines the cultural, political and socio-economic obstacles Pacific peoples and cultures face, and he also highlights their creative and innovative responses. This has significantly contributed to interdisciplinary scholarship on the Pacific and public understanding of Pacific peoples’ issues.

Damon is at the forefront of the analytical scholarship that positions Aotearoa New Zealand as a Pacific Island nation, rather than one separated historically, socially and politically.

This work has radically challenged the idea that the Pacific is marginal rather than central to understanding New Zealand’s past, present and future. His research also contributes to different research areas that have failed to include the Pacific, such as Atlantic Studies and global history.

Throughout his work, Damon has been proactive to ensure his research is accessible to the public, especially Pacific youth audiences. His book Racial Crossings was the 2012 winner of the Ernest Scott Prize, one of the major history prizes in Australia and New Zealand.

Twenty-seven new Ngā Ahurei a Te Apārangi Fellows and Ngā Ahurei Honore a Te Apārangi Honorary Fellows have been elected to the Academy of the Royal Society Te Apārangi for their distinction in research and advancement of science, technology or the humanities. They are exceptional leaders in their communities and their areas of research and scholarship.

The new Fellows will be formally inducted at an event in Whanganui-a-Tara Wellington on 29 April.