Tusiata Avia

Tusiata Avia (born 1966) is a New Zealand poet and children's author.

Tusiata Avia
Born1966 (age 5253)
Christchurch, New Zealand
OccupationPoet, performance artist, children's author
EducationUniversity of Canterbury, International Institute of Modern Letters
Notable awardsEmerging Pacific Artist, Arts Pasifka Awards (2006)


Avia was born and raised in Christchurch, New Zealand.[1] Her father is Samoan and her mother is Palangi (New Zealand European).[2] Avia graduated from the University of Canterbury and in 2002 received an MA in Creative Writing from the International Institute of Modern Letters.[1][3]


Avia's poetry explores Pasifika and cross-cultural themes, as well as the borders between traditional and contemporary life, and between place and the self.

Avia has toured both nationally and internationally performing her solo show Wild Dogs Under My Skirt which premiered at the 2002 Dunedin Fringe Festival.[4] She is a creative writing lecturer at the Manukau Institute of Technology.[5]

Published works

  • Fale Aiutu - Spirit House (Victoria University Press, 2016), poetry
  • Bloodclot (Victoria University Press, 2009), poetry
  • Wild Dogs Under My Skirt (Victoria University Press, 2004), poetry
  • Mele and the Fofo (Victoria University Press, 2004), children's book
  • The Song (Victoria University Press, 2002), children's book

Poetry by Avia has appeared in numerous literary journals such as Takahe, Sport, Turbine, and Trout.[3][2] She has been published in the Best New Zealand Poems series, including the 2004,[6] 2009,[7] 2011,[8] and 2017.[9]

Awards and residencies

In 2005, Avia was awarded the Fulbright-Creative New Zealand Pacific Writer's Residency at the University of Hawai‘i[10][3] and was the artist-in-residence at the Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies at the University of Canterbury.[11]

In 2006 she won the Emerging Pacific Artist award at the Creative New Zealand Arts Pasifika Awards.[12] and was shortlisted for the Prize in Modern Letters in 2006.[13]

Avia was the 2010 Ursula Bethell writer in residence at the University of Canterbury.[14]

In 2013, Avia received the Janet Frame Literary Trust Award.[15]

Avia's poetry collection, Fale Aiutu - Spirit House, was shortlisted for the 2017 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards.[16]


  1. "Tusiata Avia". nzpoetsonline.homestead.com. Retrieved 22 May 2018.
  2. "Tusiata Avia". Pasifika Poetry - NZEPC. Retrieved 22 May 2018.
  3. "Tusiata Avia". New Zealand Book Council. Retrieved 22 May 2018.
  4. Christian, Dionne (6 March 2018). "Behind the scenes: Poet Tusiata Avia on Wild Dogs run". NZ Herald. ISSN 1170-0777. Retrieved 22 May 2018.
  5. "Creative Writing - Manukau Institute of Technology". www.manukau.ac.nz. Retrieved 22 May 2018.
  6. "Best New Zealand Poems 2004". www.victoria.ac.nz. Retrieved 22 May 2018.
  7. "Contents of Best New Zealand Poems 2009". nzetc.victoria.ac.nz. Retrieved 22 May 2018.
  8. "Contents of Best New Zealand Poems 2011". nzetc.victoria.ac.nz. Retrieved 22 May 2018.
  9. "Best New Zealand Poems 2016 offers a transporting read". International Institute of Modern Letters | Victoria University of Wellington. Retrieved 22 May 2018.
  10. "Fulbright-Creative New Zealand Pacific Writer's Residency". www.fulbright.org.nz. Retrieved 22 May 2018.
  11. "Artists in Residence | Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies". The University of Canterbury. Retrieved 22 May 2018.
  12. "Arts Pasifika Awards". Creative New Zealand. Retrieved 1 December 2017.
  13. "Glenn Schaeffer Prize in Modern Letters". christchurchcitylibraries.com. Retrieved 22 May 2018.
  14. "Ursula Bethell Residency". The University of Canterbury. Retrieved 22 May 2018.
  15. "Awards". Janet Frame Literary Trust. Retrieved 22 May 2018.
  16. "2017 Awards Longlist". New Zealand Book Awards Trust. Retrieved 22 May 2018.
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