FWRM pays tribute to Dr. Teresia Teaiwa
It is with great sadness that the Fiji Women’s Rights Movement farewells feminist, poet, academic scholar and activist Dr. Teresia Teaiwa. Dr. Teaiwa passed away on Tuesday after a short illness.
“This is a huge loss for Fiji and the Pacific as Dr. Teaiwa inspired many as an educator, researcher, friend and a colleague,” said FWRM Executive Director Nalini Singh.
Dr. Teaiwa was a trailblazer in research, with the University of Oregon describing her as "a groundbreaking scholar in the research of the culture of the Pacific Islands.” At the time of her passing, she was the director of Va’aomanu Pasifika at Victoria University in Wellington where she taught the world’s first undergraduate major in Pacific studies in 2000.
“She was widely known and respected within the women’s movement as a fearless advocate who used her research to address issues of gender and feminism within the Pacific. Even those that may not have met her, would know of her work,” said Singh.
“Her research-informed insight, intellect and passion greatly contributed to the human rights movement. She will be sorely missed.”
Some of the organisations she was involved with include Women’s Action for Change (Fiji), the Fiji Young Women’s Christian Association, the Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific Movement and the Citizens’ Constitutional Forum (Fiji).
“She was a distinguished pioneer for women in research and for Pacific research as a whole. She has left a rich legacy in her published academic and literary works and a vacuum in the social justice movement in the Pacific and will always be remembered,” said FWRM Governance Board interim-Chair Makereta Waqavonovono.
Dr. Teaiwa was also a renowned poet, another platform she used for her advocacy, addressing Pacific issues. She was co-founder of the Niu Waves Writers Collective at the University of the South Pacific in the mid-1990s. Her poem on feminism, “How Does Change Happen?” has been used by the movement and is featured within the FWRM Herstory booklet (2012).
“FWRM expresses our heartfelt condolences to Dr. Teaiwa’s family. Just as she wrote in her poem, ‘some feminists make other feminists,’ Dr. Teaiwa was that very model who inspired and influenced others through her work and creativity,” said Waqavonovono.