Fifty years ago the Polynesian Panthers Party led a revolution against the rampant racism of 1970s New Zealand. The movement shone a light on the oppressive systems and persecution of Pacific people that were accepted by mainstream New Zealand.
In this honest and personal talk, Dr Melani Anae will recount her experience as an original Polynesian Panther and the radical activism that spilled into her work as an academic, teacher and mentor. The Panthers affected change through education, liberating New Zealand from its tolerance of overt racism. The Panthers’ legacy has had a snowball effect, influencing a highly politicised generation of Pacific leaders who became politicians, university graduates, doctors, lawyers, All Blacks, academics, writers, theologians, musicians and entertainers.
As a Pacific scholar, Melani has redefined what Pacific scholarship and research should be, particularly in the context of current global challenges such as the Covid-19 pandemic, climate change and the modern and more subtle prejudice that continues today. She is determined that the Panthers’ story and legacy be passed on to the next generation, and that history does not repeat.