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Michael Reilly image

MA (Well) PhD (ANU)


Office 4S4 Richardson Building, South Tower
Tel +64 3 479 8676

Currently on research study leave, returning 1 June 2022.


Professor Reilly's research is motivated by his belief that peoples of the Pacific are connected by a common set of ideas about the past which remain important today. This idea of a shared inheritance is expressed by the Māori people of Aotearoa as “ngā taonga tuku iho” – the treasures passed down.

He is interested in a range of research topics, such as the study of historical language texts from Mangaia (Cook Islands) and Aotearoa/New Zealand; the activities and ambiguities in the work and lives of European collectors of Māori and other Pacific tradition, especially John White (Aotearoa) and William Wyatt Gill (Cook Islands); and, the contribution of indigenous collectors and scholars of traditions, such as Mamae of Mangaia.

Other topics in ancient Polynesian history include forms of leadership, the language of emotions, the narrative style of oral traditions and cultural landscapes. A key theme in his research is understanding the cultural metaphors and values presented in vernacular texts.


  • MAOR 207Ngā Kōrero Nehe – Tribal Histories
  • MAOR 407 Presenting Pacific Histories

Guest lectures in various papers including:



  • Louise Kewene-Doig, PhD, He Kohinga Pao (Future Convergence): Creating an Interactive Archive of New Zealand Māori Popular Music starting with Māori Showband history, 1960–1970 (with Karyn Paringatai)
  • Shona Kapea-Maslin,PhD, Kākahu: The Threads that Bind them all (with Michelle Schaaf and Anaru Eketone)
  • Raphaël Richter-Gravier, PhD, Manu narratives of Polynesia: A Comparative Study of Birds in Maori and other Polynesian Traditions (with Michelle Schaaf and Bruno Saura, co-tutelle with Université de la Polynésie Française)
  • Byron Rangiwai,PhD, A critical analysis of syncretism in Māori theology (with Murray Rae)
  • Jenni Tupu, PhD, Being Adopted: The lifelong search for Self (with Karyn Paringatai and Lyn Carter)
  • Justine Camp, PhD, Binaries and Trialectics: An Argument for Transformation of Māori Diabetes Management (with Anne-Marie Jackson)
  • Rua McCallum, PhD, Beyond the Boundaries of Southern … Creation Mythology: An Inclusive Paradigm of Indigenous Knowledge, Quantum Science and Metaphysics (with Karyn Paringatai and Hilary Halba)
  • Tania Bell, MA, The histories of Māori artefacts and Museums


  • Tangiwai Rewi, PhD, Examining Traditional Maaori Knowledge Framewords and Intergenerational Knowledge Transmission (2018)
  • Erica Newman, PhD, Colonial Intervention on Guardianship and 'Adoption' Practices in Fiji, 1874–1970 (2018) (Advisory Committee)
  • Erica Anderson, PhD, Domestic violence and Society's Response in the Cook Islands: the Psychological Impacts on Victims in “Paradise” (2015)
  • Marsa Dodson, PhD, Mixed Blessings: Oral Histories of the War Children Born to US Servicemen and Indigenous Cook Islanders (2014)
  • Karyn Paringatai, PhD,Kua riro ki wīwī, ki wāwā: The causes and effects of Māori migration to Southland (2013)
  • Vaughan Bidois, PhD, Destabilising the Binary: Reframing Cultural Identity: Postcolonial Reflections in Aotearoa New Zealand (2012)
  • Michelle Schaaf, PhD, Pacific Participation in Aotearoa / Niu Sila Netball: Body Image, Family, Church, Culture, Education and Physical Education (2011)
  • Erica Newman, MA, Who am I? The Identity of Māori Adoptees (2011)
  • Paerau Warbrick, PhD, The Māori Land Court, 1960-1980 (2010)
  • Malia Lameta, MA, The changing role of Samoan women in Samoan society (2010)
  • Marsa Dodson, PhD, Practising Tamariki 'Angai: Mangaia's Informal Island Adoption (2009)
  • Moira Fortin, MA, The Development of Theatre in Easter Island (2009)
  • Nathan Matthews, PhD, He Kura Maori, he Kura Hahi, he Kura Katorika, he Kura Motuhake Mo te iwi: Hato Paora College: a model of Maori-Catholic education (2007)
  • Poia Rewi, PhD, Te Ao o te whaikōrero: the world of Māori oratory (2005)
  • Rawinia Higgins, PhD, He Tānga Ngutu, He Tūhoetanga – Te Mana Motuhake o te ta moko wahine: the identity politics of moko kauae (2004)
  • Lachlan Paterson, PhD, Ngā Reo o ngā Perehi: Māori language newspapers 1855–1863 (2004)
  • Karyn Paringatai, MA, Poia mai taku poi: unearthing the knowledge of the past: a critical review of written literature on the poi in New Zealand and the Pacific (2004)
  • Peter Clayworth, PhD, An indolent and chilly folk: the development of the idea of the 'Moriori Myth' (2001)
  • Vernon Wybrow, MA, Constructing the Savage: Western intellectual responses to the Māori and Aborigine, first contact to 1850 (2001)
  • Ilka Kottmann, MA, Te Waka! Life histories of two contemporary Polynesian voyaging canoes (2000)
  • Danny Tuato'o, MA, Te Tahi o Pipiri”: Literacy and missionary pedagogy as mechanisms in change: The reactions of three rangatira from the Bay of Islands, 1814-1834 (1999)
  • Rāwinia Higgins, MA, He Kupu Tuku Iho Mo Tēnei Reanga: Te Āhua o te tuku kōrero (1999)
  • Jane Morgan, MA, A Social History of Drug Use in New Zealand and the “Manufacture of Consent”: A Dunedin Case Study, 1960-1989 (1997)
  • Jim Williams, MA, Ko Te Kohika Turuturu (The Enduring Collection) (1996)
  • Donella Bellett, MA, Contradictions in Culture, 8 Case Studies of Māori Identity (1996)
  • Emma Stevens, MA, The Kaati Mamoe Hapuu of Mahitahi: A Question of Mana? (1994)


Reilly, M. (2023). Māui, Polynesian culture hero: A nineteenth century tradition from Ruapuke Island. Journal of New Zealand Studies, 35, 7-21. doi: 10.26686/jnzs.iNS35.8112 Journal - Research Article

Reilly, M. (2022). Manuscript XXXIX: Mamae of Mangaia: Nineteenth century pastor and tribal historian. Journal of Pacific History, 57(2-3), 304-336. doi: 10.1080/00223344.2021.1998764 Journal - Research Article

Reilly, M. P. J. (2022). Emotions in the Pacific. In K. Barclay & P. N. Stearns (Eds.), The Routledge history of emotions in the modern world. (pp. 204-219). Abingdon, UK: Routledge. doi: 10.4324/9781003023326-16 Chapter in Book - Research

Reilly, M. P. J. (2020). Talking traditions: Orality, ecology, and spirituality in Mangaia's textual culture. In T. Ballantyne, L. Paterson & A. Wanhalla (Eds.), Indigenous textual cultures: Reading and writing in the age of global empire. (pp. 131-153). Durham, NC: Duke University Press. doi: 10.2307/j.ctv153k5kj.9 Chapter in Book - Research

Mokaraka-Harris, J. J., Thompson-Fawcett, M., Reilly, M. P. J., & Kawharu, M. (2019, August). Sprouts of knowledge: Weaving new knowledge with the resonance of ancient rhythms. Verbal presentation at the School of Geography Postgraduate Symposium, Dunedin, New Zealand. Conference Contribution - Verbal presentation and other Conference outputs

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