Quick chat with Dr Emalani Case

After four years at Victoria University of Wellington Dr Emalani Case is getting ready to take her experience back home to Hawai'i.

In January 2017 she will take up an appointment as Assistant Professor in Hawaiian and Pacific Studies at the University of Hawai’i–West O’ahu.

Emalani arrived in Wellington in June 2012 to start her PhD in Pacific Studies. While the move from a Hawaiian summer to winter in Wellington left her feeling cold, she did feel warmly welcomed by the Pasifika community at Victoria.  

Emalani’s thesis looked at the idea of ‘Kahiki’, a Hawaiian concept that refers to an ancestral homeland. After submitting her PhD Emalani was employed by Victoria to teach in the Pacific Studies department, an experience Emalani describes as invaluable.

“It’s been amazing because I’ve not only been able to get back into teaching, which I love to do, but I’ve also been able to be mentored by people like Dr Teresia Teaiwa and Dr April Henderson…so I’m so thankful to those women in Pacific Studies for providing that opportunity for me.”

While at Victoria Emalani has enjoyed sharing her Hawaiian culture with her Kiwi colleagues. Emalani is a trained hula practitioner and teacher and shared her passion for Hula Kahiko, a traditional form of hula, by running classes to give others a taste of the art form.

While she’s happy about her choice to return to Hawaii at the end of the year, Emalani says she’s fallen in love with New Zealand and knows it will be tough to leave behind the country and the people she’s met here. “It’ll be like leaving home all over again.”

But she is looking forward being closer to her family, the warm weather and getting back to regular hula dancing and teaching.

We had a quick chat with Emalani in between her teaching schedule. Hear her talk about what she loves about teaching, hula, Hawai’i and Victoria.