Nature in Culture: Casting Climate in a ‘Niue’ Light

The Pacific has been at the forefront of climate change’s most immediate impacts over the years, with rising sea levels threatening communities, their livelihoods and their culture. Dr Jessica Pasisi, of Niuean descent, critiques the current colonial representations of climate change in the Pacific and demonstrates how they obscure Pacific voices and fail to recognise the importance of Indigenous knowledge in the fight against the changing climate. Of particular interest in her research has been the experiences and perceptions of climate change of Niuean women.

While undertaking her doctoral research, she developed her own research methodology that moved her from a position of researching what she thought she wanted to know to one in which she was guided by the women participants. Consequently, she was able to gather the experiences and perceptions of climate change from Niuean women, and attend to the role that Indigenous knowledge, language and cultural practice can have in fighting climate change.

In this discussion, she shares insights into her methodology and some of her findings including the women’s resistance to western framings of climate change, the marketing of climate change as they see it, and their fearless leadership as they navigate their own paths to protect their lives, livelihoods and community.

Episode 4 of The Re-(E)mergence of Nature in Culture series convened by Dr Christine Winter and Michelle St Anne.

The Re-(E)mergence of Nature in Culture podcast series originated from a two-day symposium, the second of its kind. It’s an opportunity for Indigenous scholars and people working with Indigenous scholars and Indigenous peoples to come together, discuss the ways in which culture and nature are entwined in the philosophies, lives and strengths of indigenous peoples. Importantly, we reflect on the leadership these perspectives offer as the world faces multiple challenges such as climate change, pollution and associated biocultural destruction.


00:11   Introduction – Christine Winter
01:35   Research Informed by a Sense of Space
07:20   Expelling Colonialism from Research Methodology
13:50   What is Climate Change to Niue?
16:40   The Marketing of Climate Change
22:40   The Stories of the Women
25:00   Taking the Research Back to Niue


Dr Jessica Pasisi is a researcher at the University of Waikato who has recently completed her PhD thesis on the Niue women’s perspectives and experiences of climate change. Her research seeks to better understand the mental health and wellbeing of Niuean people in Aotearoa and strives to give voice to the Pacific’s Indigenous knowledge in the fight against climate change.