UBC Department of English Language and Literatures Welcomes Dr. Alice Te Punga Somerville


Professor Alice Te Punga Somerville comes to the UBC Department of English Language and Literatures from the University of Waikato in New Zealand.

The UBC Department of English Language and Literatures is pleased to welcome Dr. Alice Te Punga Somerville as the newest member of our faculty. She will have a joint appointment with the UBC Institute for Critical Indigenous Studies.

Professor Te Punga Somerville (Māori – Te Āti Awa, Taranaki) is a scholar, poet and irredentist. At its heart, her research and teaching engage texts to de-centre colonialism by centering Indigenous expansiveness. Her MA (Auckland) and PhD (Cornell) focused on Māori written literatures. As she sought broader contexts for thinking about the writing of her own community, she developed a twin interest and expertise in Indigenous studies and Pacific studies. 

Dr. Te Punga Somerville’s current research project focuses on published writing by Indigenous people from New Zealand, Australia, Hawai’i, and Fiji between 1900-1975. She is completing a book about this research called Writing the New World. She also produced a podcast of the same name, which profiles researchers and ideas connected to the project. 

She is the author of Once Were Pacific: Maori connections to Oceania (2012) and 250 Ways to Write an Essay about Captain Cook (2020), the former of which won Best First Book from the Native American & Indigenous Studies Association. Her forthcoming collection of poetry is called Always Italicise: how to write while colonised (Auckland University Press)

Dr. Te Punga Somerville serves on the editorial boards of several academic journals and is the editor of the Journal of New Zealand Literature. She comes to UBC from the University of Waikato in New Zealand, and has previously taught in Australia, Hawai’i and elsewhere in New Zealand.