April Henderson

Acting Director Va'aomanu Pasifika


Teaching in 2017

Dr April Henderson profile picture


BA (Anthropology) Pitzer College,  MA (Pacific Islands Studies) University of Hawai'i at Manoa, PhD (History of Consciousness) University of California, Santa Cruz

Administrative responsibilities

  • Programme Director, Pacific Studies
  • Postgraduate Coordinator, Pacific Studies

Current postgraduate supervisees

Vicky Shandil, Ph.D. Pacific Studies, “Toying with the “Other”: Analysing Gender Subversion in Indo-Fijian Performance”, primary supervisor.

Emily Fatu, MA Pacific Studies, "The Bitter Sweetness of the Space Between: Creative Reflections of Pasifika Mixedness", sole supervisor.

Moira Fortin Cornejo, Ph.D. Theatre, “Tensions and Possibilities: The Interplay of ‘Traditional’ Cultural Elements and the Creation of ‘Contemporary’ Māori, Samoan diasporic and Rapanui Theatre” (alternative titles: “He Moto, He Koa: Te Hakapiri o te Haka Ara e te Api ki te Aŋa o te A‘amu Api ki Māori, Sāmoa e ko Rapa Nui”;“Tensiones y Posibilidades: La Integración de Elementos Culturales ‘Tradicionales’ en la Creación ‘Contemporánea’ de Teatro Māori, diasporico Samoano y Rapanui”).

Completed supervisions

Jodi Meadows, MDI Culture and Context, “Pacific Design: Visualizing Theory,” secondary supervisor.

Anabel Lusk, MENVST, “Pursuing self-determined outcomes for climate change in the Cook Islands: Exploring the interface between government institutional directive and local community engagement in climate change decision-making,” third supervisor.

Tupe Lualua, BA Honours Pacific Studies, PASI 489 Comparative Research Essay, “DANCES OF DEFIANCE: How choreography and vocalisation were used in Pacific protest.”

Jenny Taotua, BA Honours Pacific Studies, PASI 489 Comparative Research Essay, “The influences of African American and other Afrodiasporic music on Korean popular music (K-pop) in Korea and Pacific popular music in Aotearoa, 1980 to present.”

Emily Fatu, BA Honours Pacific Studies, PASI 489 Comparative Research Essay, “Creating the vā: A comparative review of artists Lily Laita and Niki Hastings-McFall’s reflections of Pacific mixedness.”

Holly Mansfield, MA Pacific Studies, “Discourses of Vulnerability: I-Kiribati Women, Forced Migration and Climate Change,” sole supervisor.

Lizzie Werry, BA Honours Pacific Studies, PASI 489 Comparative Research Essay, “Pacific Possibilities for Culturally Relevant Curricula: A comparative review and critique of the secondary literature surrounding the Vanuatu and Aotearoa/New Zealand primary school curricula.”

Jodi Devine, BA Honours Pacific Studies, PASI 489 Comparative Research Essay, “Finding the Music in Regionalism: A Comparative Review of the Literature on Pacific Regional Imaginaries.”

Courtney Wilson, MA English, “That’s My Stuff: Pasifika Identities and Pasifika Literature,” secondary supervisor.

Paula Faiva, MA Pacific Studies, “The Voices of Tokelau Youth in New Zealand: Na mafialeo ona Tupulaga Tokelau I Niu Hila,” secondary supervisor.

Suliana Vea, BA Honours Pacific Studies, PASI 489 Comparative Research Essay, “A Comparative Analysis of the Role and Impact of Original Lyrical Composition in Pacific Societies.”

Scott Mackay, BA Honours Pacific Studies, PASI 489 Comparative Research Essay, “At the Confluence of Poetry and Politics: Comparing the Lives and Works of Oodgeroo Noonuccal and Hone Tuwhare.”

Rodrigo Gomez-Segura, BA Honours Pacific Studies, PASI 489 Comparative Research Essay, “The Case for the Political Decolonisation of Rapa Nui.”

Current research

“Kernels of Hope: Following Coconut Commodities from the Pacific to the West.” This multi-sited ethnographic research project follows one significant coconut commodity, virgin coconut oil, from points of production in two Pacific nations, though sites of circulation and consumption in the United States and New Zealand, investigating: how coconut commodities become invested with people's beliefs, hopes, and aspirations at each stage of the commodity chain; what they reveal about older histories of trade and new regimes of consumption, and; how Pacific indigenous knowledge might offer both alternatives to and pathways into the global economy.

Ongoing research and publication on Pacific participation in hip hop dance, music, and visual art, and the constitution of multi-ethnic “communities of sentiment” through shared participation in popular cultural forms.

Selected external activities

Subeditor (Pacific), Asia Pacific Viewpoint

Editorial Board, Popular Communication: The International Journal of Media and Culture.

Strategic/Artistic Assessor, Pacific Arts Committee, Creative New Zealand

Member, International Association for the Study of Popular Music

Member, Pacific History Association

Member, P.A.C.I.F.I.C.A. Inc (Wellington Central Branch), a non-profit organisation set up to support and help create opportunities for Pacific Island women within New Zealand

Selected book chapters

'Dancing Between Islands: Hip Hop and Samoan Diaspora' in Dipannita Basu and Sidney J. Lemelle, eds, The Vinyl Ain't Final: Hip Hop and the Globalization of Black Popular Culture. (foreword by Robin DG Kelley). London: Pluto Press, 2006: 180-199.

Selected journal articles

Henderson, April K. “The I and the We: Individuality, Collectivity, and Samoan Artistic Response to Cultural Change.” The Contemporary Pacific volume 28 number 2 (forthcoming August 2016)

Henderson, April K. "Maori Boys, Michael Jackson Dance Moves, and that 1984 Structure of Feeling."New Zealand Journal of Media Studies volume 13 number 1 (October 2012): 79-96. This article can be freely downloaded, please follow the link http://www.nzmediastudies.org.nz/issues.php?issue=9&title=Volume+13+No.1

Henderson, April K. “Fleeting Substantiality: The Samoan Giant in US Popular Discourse.” The Contemporary Pacific volume 23 number 2 (August 2011): 269-302

Henderson, April K. 'Gifted Flows: Making Space for a Brand New Beat" in Flying Fox Excursions, a special issue of The Contemporary Pacific volume 22 number 2, (August 2010): 293-315

Teaiwa, Teresia K., and April K. Henderson. 'Humanities and Communities: A Dialogue in Pacific Studies,' Pacific Studies, volume 32 number 4, 2009/2010: 421-438

Contributor to Peter Brunt, ed. “Roundtable: Thinking Through Oceania Now.” The Reading Room: A Journal of Art and Culture. Issue 4 2010: 83-104

Selected reviews in journals

Review Forum Editor, “The Orator/O Le Tulafale” for The Contemporary Pacific vol 24 no, 2, (August) 2012: 434–446.

Review of Alexeyeff, Kalissa. Dancing From the Heart: Movement, Gender, and Cook Islands Globalization for The Australian Journal of Anthropology vol 23, issue 2, 2012: 259–260

Review of Bakari Kitwana, Why White Kids Love Hip Hop: Wankstas, Wiggas, Wannabes and the New Reality of Race in America, for Perfect Beat 8:4 (January 2006): 87-89

Review of Chadwick Allen, Blood Narrative: Indigenous Identity in American Indian and Maori Literary and Activist Texts for Asia Pacific Viewpoint volume 44, number 2 (August) 2003: 197-199.

Other selected publications

As part of making my research more widely accessible to Pacific and creative communities, I occasionally write pieces for creative industry publications and popular press outlets.

‘FUNK is FUN (with a K): Suga Pop Workshops.’ DANZ Quarterly Issue 31 (March) 2013: 2-3.

April K. Henderson, Radamez Smith and Sara Tamati. 'The Professional Development of 'B Boying in Aotearoa.' DANZ Quarterly Issue 19, April/May/June 2010: 20-21

April K. Henderson, Radamez Smith, Sara Tamati, and Sen Thong. 'B boying - the cultural dance of hip hop.' DANZ Quarterly Issue 18, Jan/Feb/March 2010: 10-11

'Suga Pop Vs. David Dallas.' Back2Basics December 2008/January 2009

'Rich and Tone Talauega: Rize of the Revolution.' Spasifik Magazine 28 (September/October 2008): 20-24

'Art and Science: An Interview with Chris Graham.' Disrupt issue 4 October 2004.

'SugaPop: True Child of the Funk.' Back2Basics volume 2 issue 2 August/September 2004: 30-34.

'Footsouljahs.' Back2Basics volume 2 issue 1 June/July 2004: 27-29.

'Locking, Popping, and Breaking.' DANZ Quarterly Issue 15 October 2002: 2-5

Awards and achievements

Royal Society of New Zealand Marsden Fund FastStart grant for "Kernals of Hope: Following Coconut Commodities from the Pacific to the West," 2015-2017

Foundation for Research, Science and Technology grant for 'Youth Voices, Youth Choices,' a collaborative project between researchers at Va'aomanu Pasifika and the Centre for Applied Cross-Cultural Research, 2008-2010

Honorable Mention, Gertrude Lippincott Award for Best Dance Article in English, awarded by the Society of Dance History Scholars, 2007

University of California Pacific Rim Research Program Research Grant 2002

University of California Pacific Rim Research Program Mini-Grant, 2001

University of California, Santa Cruz Cota-Robles Fellowship, 1999-2001

East West Center Degree Fellow 1996-1998

Recommended sites