The Political Science Program at Texas A&M University-Kingsville, with the assistance of the University’s Division of International Studies & Programs, is pleased to introduce its Pacific Studies Program - a pioneering collaborative initiative between A&M-Kingsville and the University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand.

The Pacific Studies Program (PSP) is being co-directed by Dr. Nirmal Goswami, Professor of Political Science, A&M-Kingsville and Dr. Elaine Webster, Director, Summer School and Continuing Education, University of Otago. The PSP will include graduate and undergraduate students traveling to and staying in New Zealand from July 5th, 2012, through July 22nd, 2012, attending classes at the University of Otago, and visiting multiple sites through field trips in the greater Otago region. Areas of focus include history, politics, economics, culture, sustainability and environmental policies, etc., with reference to both the greater Pacific region and New Zealand.

Dr. Christine Reiser-Robbins, Anthropology Program, Texas A&M-Kingsville, is directing a Service Learning Project, a special component of the PSP. The PSP will facilitate interaction between middle and high school students from Bishop School District, Texas, and Logan Park High School, Dunedin, Otago, through the application of Internet-enabled technologies.

You are all invited to cyber travel with us as we learn about the uniqueness of New Zealand and the surrounding region. This blog will document our experience. You are welcome to post comments.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Love and War

Tuesday, July 10

After having a group breakfast we headed to class. Our seminar was titled “United States Servicemen in New Zealand and the Pacific during WWII” and was taught by Dr. Angela Wanhalla. Dr. Wanhalla briefly touched on Maori  history and culture. I found it very interesting that Maori names  differed by tribes and backgrounds;  the Maori also had a special name for descendants for European settlers: Pakeha.
Dr. Wanhalla focused on the 100,000 U.S. service members stationed in New Zealand between 1942 and 1944. She and her colleagues are currently working on a study of these American military men and their interactions with New Zealand women. This study,  to be later turned into a documentary, is centered on the families formed and broken by those servicemen, which is immensely interesting from a historical and social perspective.  One of Dr. Wanhalla's primary  goals is re-connecting children/descendants living in New Zealand with their fathers' families in the United States. She has had both successes and failures in this endeavor. In many cases, the mothers of these children take the identity of their illegitimate children’s fathers to their deathbeds. However, there are  also instances where American fathers retained connection with their New Zealand families. Some moved to New Zealand while others kept in touch by mail. In one case, family ties were maintained by both sides  though the two individuals involved in the relationship went on to new and separate lives when they chose to remain in their own countries and start new families.   Still, the New Zealand link was preserved by both families!
Overall, it was a very interesting and informative lecture. We felt fortunate to have heard it.

--Cassandra W.

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