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Telesia Kalavite imagePhD MEd PGDipEDL (Waikato), PGCertEd BA (USP), DipEd TchgCerts (Tonga)
Nukuleka, Tonga

Pacific Island Studies Programme Co-ordinator


Office 4S6 Richardson Building, South Tower
Tel +64 3 479 3974


Telesia has a wide range of research capabilities and interests in the disciplines of: Education Studies; Pacific Studies; Social Science; Linguistics; Cultural Studies; and Development Studies.

In particular her interests lie in: Pacific educational development; Pacific students' educational achievement; Education for sustainable development; Educational achievement for migrant communities; Pacific culture; Pacific culture and education for sustainability; Culture and educational achievement; Culture and sustainable development in the Pacific.

Other research interests include: Time-Space Theory of Reality and academic achievement for Pacific peoples; Christianity and educational development; Indigenous development; Language and educational development; Tongan-English translations; Climate change and indigenous development; and Social justice and educational development for migrants.

Teaching for 2023

  • PACI 103 Languages and Cultures of the Pacific: An Introduction
  • PACI 210 Special Topic: Pacific Education
  • PACI 405 Indigenous Leadership in the Pacific

Guest Lecture



  • Eirenei Taua'i, MIndS
  • Fara Iati, MIndS
  • Tarn Felton, MIndS
  • Jekope Maiono, PhD


  • Tofilau Nina Kirifi-Alai, MIndS (2021). The Development of the Pacific Islands Centre at the University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand: A Personal Reflection
  • Pauline-Jean Henrietta Luyten, MIndS (2021) COVID-19 Talanoa: The Voices of Tongan Kāinga in South Canterbury

Research grants

  • University of Otago Research Grant (2023). Project Titled: The implications of changing cultural practices in Tongan wedding celebrations in New Zealand


  • 2010–2012: University of Waikato Postdoctoral Fellow
  • 2010: University of Waikato Tertiary Achievement in Pacific Ako (TAPA) Award
  • 2009: University of Waikato TAPA Award
  • 2008: University of Waikato TAPA Award
  • 2006: University of Waikato Pacific Excellence Award
  • 2006: Waikato Institute of Technology (Wintec) Employee Award
  • 2006–2005: New Zealand Ministry of Education Pacific Postgraduate Study Award
  • 2000: University of Waikato Certificate of Achievement Award
  • 1998–1999: Australian Aid (AUSAID) Scholarship Award for a Masters' degree
  • 1990–1991: AUSAID Scholarship Award to study for a Bachelor's degree
  • 1987–1988: Tonga Government Study Award to study for a Diploma in Education


Kalavite, T. (2024). Indigenous intergenerational relational rhythms: Sustaining Tongan language and culture across time (Tā) and space (Vā). Art/Research International, 8(2), 636-662. doi: 10.18432/ari29742 Journal - Research Article

Schaaf, R., Kalavite, T., Lei-Mata'afa, S., Nafatali, K., Alai, G., & Anderson, V. (2023, November). Teu le vā Tauhivā: Pacific relationality as a model for ethical practice in academia. Verbal presentation at the 51st Annual Conference of the Oceania Comparative & International Education Society (OCIES), Apia, Samoa. Conference Contribution - Verbal presentation and other Conference outputs

Kalavite, T. (2023). Creating harmonies in the translations of Alice in Wonderland and The Little Prince into Tongan. Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Translators & Interpreters (NZSTI) Conference. Retrieved from Conference Contribution - Published proceedings: Abstract

Kalāvite, T., & Uele, Ί. M. (2023). Ko e Fie'iló mo hono Ako'i 'o e Lēsoni Tongá 'i he 'Univēsiti 'o 'Ōtakó. Tokoni Faiako / Tonga Journal of Education, 4, 115-138. Journal - Research Article

Kalavite, T. (2022). 'Otua [Translation and translation commentary]. Literature as Translation IV: Translating Anne Enright, European Federation of Associations and Centres of Irish Studies (EFACIS). Retrieved from Other Research Output

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