University of Hawai'i Press
Abstract

In this article, we deploy two theoretical concepts—settler-colonial citizenship and transnational identities—to explore the complex facets of what we term "contemporary Moana mobilities." Drawing on the Samoan methodology su'ifefiloi, which embraces Pacific forms of storytelling as sites of knowledge production, we provide three first-person vignettes that recount the experiences of a Samoan New Zealander living in South Korea to frame settler-colonial citizenship as an intergenerational symbolic and legal privilege afforded to migrants and their descendants who settle in settler-colonial states. Further, we argue that this opens additional multinational mobility pathways into other countries for children of diasporic Pacific communities within settler colonies like New Zealand, which remain blocked off to our communities and families who reside on island. Given this, we also propose that the identities of upwardly mobile transnational Pacific Islanders are constituted through simultaneous embeddedness in the racial hierarchies of multiple nation-states and are performed for specific audiences in specific national contexts, which then shape the character and politics of these complex identity expressions. Ultimately, we gesture to the importance of better understanding the conditions and consequences of empire and settler-colonial citizenship as global processes—and how this is reshaping the landscape of contemporary Moana mobilities.

keywords

migration, mobilities, settler colonialism, citizenship, transnationalism, identity, culture

For Pacific people, descendants in the formidable Moana-Oceania genealogy of grand voyaging and wayfinding, journeys into new territories are not new—Pacific worlds have always been mobile.1 According to Vicente Diaz (2011), this voyaging tradition dates back at least four thousand years, to when Austronesian seafarers with deep maritime technologies set out to settle two-thirds of the Pacific Ocean. Through their voyages, they established the Pacific region as an assemblage of interlocking navigations, migrations, and settlements (Matsuda 2011). The advent of colonialism and settler colonialism across the region significantly altered these mobilities (Lopesi 2018), closing established mobility pathways while opening others (Salesa 2018). Thus, the term "Moana mobilities" encapsulates Pacific peoples' movements across islands and national borders both in the late nineteenth century as the Westphalian state was cemented as the dominant model of nationhood and in contemporary times.

In this article, we offer a preliminary theory of how the New Zealand settler-colonial state mediates Moana mobility pathways, and we explore some of its consequences for identity and culture. Embracing Pacific forms of storytelling as sites of knowledge generation, and guided by the Samoan methodology su'ifefiloi (Lopesi 2021a, 2021b), we provide three first-person vignettes that draw on Patrick's experiences as a New Zealand settler-colonial citizenship holder and Samoan member of Pasifika Connect, a group of Pacific Islanders in South Korea. The first vignette articulates how settler-colonial citizenship opens new mobility pathways for migrant descendants wielding New Zealand settler-colonial citizenship. The second [End Page 327] considers this mobility pathway alongside other extant mobility pathways, gesturing to the ways in which New Zealand settler-colonial citizenship grants privileged access to legal "skilled" labor migration pathways. Finally, the third vignette explores the consequences of these pathways by considering how Pacific Islander identities and cultural performances are shaped by experiences of racialized marginalization in New Zealand and in Korea. Ultimately, we offer two theoretical contributions. First, we introduce the concept of settler-colonial citizenship, which refers to the intergenerational symbolic and legal privileges that are afforded to migrants and their descendants who settle in settler-colonial states, which opens additional multinational mobility pathways into other countries. Second, we propose that these intergenerational, multinational mobility pathways produce new possibilities for transnational Pacific identities, wherein migrant identities and cultures are formulated and performed through migrants' simultaneous navigation of multiple, overlapping racial hierarchies extending across multiple national borders.

Notes on Methodology

This article employs the emergent methodology of su'ifefiloi (Ellis 1998; Figiel 2006; Refiti 2014; Tielu 2016; Fuluifaga 2017; Lopesi 2021a, 2021b). In Gāgana Sāmoa, "su'i" means "to sew" and "fefiloi" means "mixture." "Su'ifefiloi" typically refers to the flower ula (necklace of flowers) made by stringing different flowers together. Drawing inspiration from the physical object of the same name, Pacific scholars have proposed su'ifefiloi as "a research method that assembles many parts" (Refiti 2014, 26), enabling researchers to discover, analyze, and synthesize assorted data and methods so that each element of the research "can stand independently on its [own] and yet at the same time [be] connected to the others" (Figiel, quoted in Ellis 1998, 74). Thus, su'ifefiloi has generative potentials, as "the central tenet of combining is intended to generate new thinking and knowledge that always remains open to remixing and recombining" (Lopesi 2021b, 136).

Building on previous articulations of su'ifefiloi as methodology, we follow Lana Lopesi in extending it to the ula lole, or lolly (candy) lei, which replaces flowers with candies wrapped in plastic wrap and tied together with ribbon bows (2021a, 2021b). For Lopesi, this extension enables diasporic Pacific Islanders to acknowledge their place in the world, one that is simultaneously embedded in both the ancestral practices of their Pacific [End Page 328] homelands and the cosmopolitan transactions of urban life in places such as New Zealand, Australia, and the United States—transactions that often involve the exchange and circulation of plastic wrap and dollar-store ribbon. Additionally, the ula lole is an apt symbol of contemporary Moana mobilities in that it is often gifted to kinfolk as they embark on extended journeys abroad and as they return home to their families. Through the materiality of its plastic wrap—perhaps as a paradigmatic disposable commodity under late-stage capitalism—the ula lole carries the imprints of empire while creatively reconfiguring the traditional ula through the materials of cosmopolitan urban life in Western settler-colonial empires.

In our research, su'ifefiloi preserves the tensions of our three varied perspectives and experiences as diasporic Chamoru and Samoans living in New Zealand and the United States. Throughout the article, we sew and wrap together our distinct voices, disciplinary backgrounds, and theoretical perspectives, allowing us to collaboratively build a theory of contemporary Moana mobilities—one that demonstrates the global processes by which settler-colonial citizenship opens new legal mobility pathways for Pacific Islanders and that begins to explore its consequences for culture and identity. Much like how an ula lole comprises separately wrapped sets of candies joined through string or raffia, this article is presented via two alternating sections. Drawing from Patrick's experiences, we present three first-person vignettes, each analogous to separate bags of candies. Then, following each first-person vignette, we provide collective theoretical reflections on their implications—with each reflection analogous to the string or raffia that joins the separate bags of candies into a connective ula lole (figure 1).

Pasifika Connect, Itaewon Global Village Festival, October 2018

It was a cool early autumn evening in Seoul's foreigner district as I sat in a large crowd of onlookers, listening to the lyrics and melody of Tahitian artist Nonosina's 2012 song "Te Tama Ma'ohi" ring through the streets of my former neighborhood. Gina, a Korean dancer and friend of mine, was entrancing a live online audience with a dance solo she had learned in Pape'ete from her Tahitian instructors. Meanwhile, around the stage, I could hear Samoans, Tongans, and Niueans screaming, whistling, and cheehooing. We were celebrating our organization, Pasifika Connect,2 claiming a historic first overall prize win in the Itaewon Global Village [End Page 329]

Figure 1. Su'ifefiloi Ula Lole Adaptation, by Lana Lopesi, 2020.
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Figure 1.

Su'ifefiloi Ula Lole Adaptation, by Lana Lopesi, 2020.

[End Page 330] Festival (igvf). Hours before the closing ceremony, the organizers asked me to make sure we had prepared an encore performance in case we won. As other dancers joined Gina, I reflected on the enormity of what we had just done. The festival is attended by tens of thousands of people over two days, the biggest international cultural festival of its kind in South Korea. It is an explosion of color, food, and endless performances spread across three stages that closes the streets of Itaewon every October. With one of the most homogenous populations in the world, South Korea is not particularly renowned for its multiculturalism. Nonetheless, during the festival, embassies from all over the world set up cultural booths, ethnic food stalls, and promote the material cultures of their homelands to an increasingly cosmopolitan-hungry South Korean public.

Our igvf victory was unlikely because our entry nearly did not happen at all. I was contacted by a friend in the Papua New Guinea embassy who knew about Pasifika Connect because she had attended the annual cultural extravaganza that we, a bunch of Pacific Islanders (Samoans, Tongans, and Niueans) from New Zealand, host every year to celebrate our cultural heritage. She had heard about the festival the day after entries closed and thought that we should participate under the embassy's sponsorship (a mandatory condition for entry). She rushed our entry form to the organizers, who allowed us to participate for the very first time. But the question of home was the conundrum I found myself reflecting on in that moment of victory. In front of me were my Korean friends, floating through Tahitian and Hawaiian dance numbers; behind me were my friends from the Papua New Guinea embassy who had provided entry into the festival. None of us at Pasifika Connect were Tahitian or Hawaiian or Papua New Guinean, yet we had won a festival representing "Oceania United" as citizens of New Zealand sponsored by the Papua New Guinea embassy. It dawned on me that our affective, kinship, and genealogical ties were to islands in the middle of our great ocean, yet our citizenship rights were still bound to New Zealand. For all of us in Pasifika Connect, we could only be in Korea because of our New Zealand citizenship. I walked onto the igvf stage wearing my pink shirt purchased from the Eveni store in Apia and my black Sāmoa hat acquired from the two-dollar shop in Manurewa, and we had our group photo taken with the Yongsan-gu mayor, all of which was beamed digitally across the peninsula.

I arrived in Korea in 2008. We weren't called Pasifika Connect at the time; as a group of Pacific expatriates, mostly working as English teachers and mostly from New Zealand, we built a community based on our shared [End Page 331] Pacific identities. We looked out for each other, stayed at each other's houses on the weekends, traveled together, and became a family. Each year, new English teaching contracts would be signed while others expired, so our membership changed nearly annually. But the drive to create a Pacific 'aiga (family) never ceased. Our first official event was a fundraiser for the Sāmoa tsunami relief fund in 2009, followed by the Christchurch earthquake relief fund in 2011. When we held a charity drive to celebrate Sāmoa's fifty years of independence in 2012, donating all the proceeds to the community organization Rotoract Sāmoa, who used the funds to supply St Mary's College in my home village of Vaimoso, Sāmoa, with a new gas line for their science labs, it finally solidified in our minds that we had the talent and people power to formalize our community. Today I write from Auckland, having returned to the edges of our Moana-Oceania, reflecting on what it means to be so deeply connected to a community built in a foreign land, which meant turning my back to our Ocean and fixing my gaze beyond its edges.

Settler-Colonial Citizenship and Moana Mobilities

Through this vignette, we present the concept of settler-colonial citizenship, which serves to capture an intergenerational mechanism through which Pacific peoples gain legal access to mobility pathways across multiple national borders. Here, the symbolic and legal privileges of New Zealand settler-colonial citizenship—transmitted intergenerationally from Patrick's migrant ancestors—have opened legal skilled migration pathways into Korea. Patrick is only able to access a visa to teach and work in Korea as a consequence of his generationally derived New Zealand citizenship and an ability to activate this through holding a bachelor's degree from a New Zealand university, as required by Korean immigration law (Thomsen 2020).3 This is significant given the history of Pacific and Samoan migration to New Zealand, which is closely tied to the instrumental whims of the New Zealand settler-colonial state. The members of Pasifika Connect have been able to exploit a mobility pathway that is not open to Pacific peoples residing at the center of the Pacific region as non–New Zealand citizens, whom they represented to Korea in the Itaewon Global Village Festival. Ultimately, this vignette highlights the entanglement of Moana mobilities and empire (Lopesi 2018), charting generational moves from the center of Moana-Oceania to Teaiwa's (2001) Pacific edges and beyond. In the case of Pasifika Connect, we see how [End Page 332] New Zealand citizenship enables further opportunity to move beyond the edges, while still claiming and performing Moana-Oceania cultures and identities.

Over time, New Zealand has adopted fluctuating stances on Samoan migration and Pacific Islander migration more generally. But, at least since the turn of the twentieth century, it has played a persistent, long-standing role in both enabling and constraining Moana mobilities. Consider its role in shaping Samoan migration—the empirical phenomenon we highlight in this article. Between 1918 and 1962, New Zealand administered Western Sāmoa—a half-century-long colonial relationship that would establish a migration pipeline between the two countries. Indeed, despite Samoans not being offered immediate citizenship rights in New Zealand, Samoan migration to New Zealand has steadily increased since the 1950s (Gibson 1983) and surged after Sāmoa's independence in 1962 (Vaa 1992), not least because of several formal state mechanisms. These include the 1949 New Zealand Citizenship Act, which provided the legal basis for Western Samoans born before 1949 to acquire New Zealand Citizenship (even though this would be later contested by the anti-immigrant, conservative Muldoon administration of the mid-1970s to mid-1980s); the 1962 quota-based Treaty of Friendship, which provided Samoans with employment-based visas; a Privy Council Court compromise settlement surrounding the implementation of the 1964 Immigration Act, which granted permanent residency to hundreds of Samoans; a range of formal and informal temporary work schemes, which were initiated to recruit Pacific Islander migrants into the growing agricultural sector (Brosnan 1988; Gibson 1983; Miles and Spoonley 1985); and the Samoan Quota of 1970, which permitted 1,100 Samoans to migrate per year. Pacific peoples have since formed multigenerational communities in New Zealand that today make up 7.4 percent of the national population, with 60 percent born in New Zealand and holding jus soli citizenship.

As the first vignette implies, Patrick's family moved from Sāmoa to New Zealand, where Patrick was born and claimed New Zealand citizenship by birthright. Then, after being raised in New Zealand and receiving a university degree, Patrick moved from New Zealand to Korea. Within both the Western paradigm of migration studies and the Pacific paradigm of Pacific studies, scholars have not yet addressed the specificity of this mobility pathway. Within Pacific studies, scholars largely adopt one of two lenses on migration. First, drawing from Pacific Indigenous knowledge and histories, [End Page 333] some scholars emphasize Pacific conceptions of mobility through narratives of seafaring and voyaging (Diaz and Kauanui 2001; Suliman and others 2019; Irwin 2008; Perez 2015; Na'puti 2019). Second, many draw from transnational migration studies to articulate the ways in which Pacific Islander migrants and their descendants continue to engage with their edges of the Moana-Oceania region from afar (Lee and Francis 2009). This has often meant a disproportionate focus on transnationalism through the lens of the home/host binary, limiting analyses to the dyadic study of the relationship between migrants in host (migrant-receiving) countries and their social networks in home (migrant-sending) countries—something Helen Lee recognized to be an important theoretical and empirical gap in the literature on Pacific Islander transnationalism (2009). However, by (often implicitly) conceiving transnationalism in these dyadic terms for single generations of migrants, there remains much room to engage with questions about Pacific mobilities across multiple (ie, more than two) national borders and across multiple generations. More recently, however, increased scholarly attention has been paid to more complex mobilities (such as those discussed in this article), including Ruth Faleolo's exploration of trans-Tasman Pacific labor migrations and Lana Lopesi's conceptualization of Moana Cosmopolitanism (Faleolo 2019; Lopesi 2021a).

In the broader Western paradigm of migration studies, mobility pathways across multiple national borders have been studied under several names—including "stepwise migration," "serial migration," and "transit migration," among others—but more recently, they have been characterized by the umbrella term "multinational migrations" (Paul and Yeoh 2021). This broad conception of mobility across multiple national borders is profoundly shaped by what Anju Mary Paul and Brenda S A Yeoh (2021)—drawing on the work of Biao Xiang and Johan Lindquist (2014)—termed "multinational migration infrastructures," which comprise (1) commercial infrastructure (ie, migrant labor brokers and intermediaries); (2) regulatory infrastructure (ie, immigration and employment policy regimes); (3) technological infrastructure (ie, transportation, information, and communication technology); (4) humanitarian infrastructure (ie, civil society organizations operating at the local, regional, transnational, and global scales); and (5) social infrastructure (ie, migrant kinship ties and social networks). However, while the framework of multinational migration is enormously useful, it does not account for how countries are socially constructed within overlapping global hierarchies, which do not always echo old world-systems hierarchies but rather are shaped by a range of macrostructural [End Page 334] factors (eg, economic opportunity) and micro-level factors (eg, migrant priorities and goals).4

Yet, it is precisely New Zealand's position in the global hierarchy that affords Patrick intergenerational symbolic and legal privileges as a settler-colonial citizenship holder. The global premium placed on New Zealand settler-colonial citizenship has multiple distinct, measurable implications. First, and most notably, New Zealand citizens—alongside citizens of other settler-colonial states—have access to a range of legal migration pathways to Korea that are exclusive to them. Korea actively recruits English teachers from what have been termed "3W" (Western, wealthy, and white) countries—including Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, the United States, Ireland, and South Africa—due to their proximity to global power, while blocking access to these visas by English speakers from former British and US colonies like India, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Singapore (Thomsen 2018, 2020). Incho Lee argued that this hierarchy of nations able to access English teaching visas is driven by globalization: many Koreans wish to position themselves close to symbols of global leadership, and white people have become a global representation of power (2011). English speakers, as part of this "global" Korea, are then afforded socioeconomic opportunities in Korea's domestic labor market, reflecting Korea's demand for the English language as a symbol of cosmopolitan credentials that allow upward class and social mobility for Koreans (Abelmann, Park, and Kim 2013; Park 2011), a structural condition that benefits New Zealand citizenship holders (Thomsen 2020).

Immigration Office, Seoul, May 2014

"Here goes nothing," I muttered to myself as the train pulled into its stop on the purple line. In Korea, you must visit an immigration office in the city where your "registered" address or job is located to renew your work visa. As a result, Seoul, the gargantuan supercity that houses over ten million residents is served by a single immigration office in Mapo-gu. The closest station is Omokyo, and I was heading there armed with a whole lot of documents that I had sourced from my mother in New Zealand to prove my Kiwi citizenship and university education, and even more from my employer, all to renew my e-1 (colloquially known as the "professor at a university" visa).

As I arrived in the check-in area, I had the number 137 spat out at me by the automated check-in kiosk, which was issuing us dockets as we entered—the big screen in the waiting area said they were only up to [End Page 335] number 58. It was 10 am, and the office had only been open since 9 am. This was going to be a long day. Right behind me was a Pālagi woman talking on her phone. It sounded like she was sporting a Midwestern American accent. Behind her was a Pilipina who was accompanied by a man who seemed to be her boss: he barked orders to his workers on his phone, saying he had come to get her visa so she could start working immediately.5 I caught myself before eavesdropping too much and put my headphones on to enlist the help of my music library to pass the time.

Two hours and three Mariah Carey albums later, it was finally my turn. I went up to the immigration officer who had my number flashing noisily above her head. She was concentrating on her computer and silently took my Alien Registration Card without even glancing up. I started explaining to her in English that I was there to renew my visa and that I had brought all the necessary forms. Again, she said nothing. I gathered the forms into a document pile, and she kept staring at her computer as she pulled the forms over to her side. After what seemed like thirty minutes of her reviewing my documents, she eventually asked very slowly, "Where is the business registration form?" It clicked that it was still in my folder in my backpack, so I responded in polite Korean, "죄송합니다.문서가제가방에있습니다" (Apologies, the document is in my bag).

The immigration officer responded in English, "Your Korean is good; can you give me the document?" I duly complied. More silence. Finally, she replied, "OK, go wait over there, and we will call you when your card is ready." From my previous trips to the immigration office, I knew this meant that my visa extension was done and I just needed to have the back of my alien registration card stamped to update the expiration date of my e-1 visa.

Meanwhile, the Pilipina had gone to the booth next to mine, and a man who appeared to be her irate boss was standing over her and speaking loudly to the immigration officer. I recognized the officer serving them, as he had processed my visa renewal the previous year. I remembered that he spoke good English. The boss was arguing with the immigration officer in Korean, also acting as an interpreter for the Pilipina, who was speaking perfectly good English from what I could tell. It was a peculiar interaction, I thought to myself. Why wouldn't the immigration officer speak directly to the Pilipina woman? Then I realized that he was trying to get his worker an e-9 visa registration, more commonly known as the "factory worker" or "unskilled" visa in Korea.

Suddenly, another officer appeared beside the row of booths I had been told to sit in front of. He was staring at the pictures on the alien registration [End Page 336] cards in his hand, trying to see which one belonged to whom—I was the only one sitting in the area. Ever since the immigration office had switched to black-and-white photos, it had become even more difficult to make out my skin tone on the card. My nationality was listed as "New Zealand," and I wondered whether he realized that I was not in fact white. It took a few more moments before he finally asked, "패트릭톰슨님—" "여기있습니다" (I'm over here), I cut in to save the painful butchering of my Pālagi-Samoan name that I was sure was coming. The guy had a confused look on his face."톰슨 입니까?" (You're Thomsen?) He sounded very surprised. "네, 맞습니다" (Yes, that's correct), I shot back, annoyed.

Multiple Mobility Pathways Converge

New Zealand settler-colonial citizenship holders face limited barriers to long-term legal migration; long-term migration and settlement are, in fact, rewarded by multiple incentives. During their stay in Korea, Patrick was afforded easy opportunities for long-term settlement, mirroring the orientation Korea has toward 3W and settler-colonial states more broadly. However, in the immigration office, the uneasy coexistence of multiple kinds of mobility pathways came into view. The interaction illustrates the racialized assumptions placed on Patrick's mobility pathway, as well as Patrick's relative privilege in relation to the Pilipina worker because of their New Zealand citizenship.

Together, Patrick's and Pasifika Connect's experiences in Korea make up just one illustrative case of how settler-colonial citizenship shapes Moana mobilities across multiple generations and multiple national borders. As outlined earlier, the New Zealand settler-colonial state comprises a complex patchwork of immigration and employment policy regimes that promote a wildly uneven incorporation of Pacific Islander migrants across generations. Indeed, the first vignette is, in many ways, an atypical case of a "high-skilled," highly educated, multilingual Samoan strategically leveraging the global premium of their settler-colonial citizenship to gain access to social and economic opportunity.

This moment in the migration office helps to remind us that while the upward mobility demonstrated by Pasifika Connect is a new kind of mobility acquired by the beneficiaries of intergenerational settler-colonial citizenship, the Pacific mobility pathway of the "low-skilled" migrant is still active. In fact, New Zealand has continuously implemented policies to sustain such Pacific Islander labor migration pathways, with the most recent [End Page 337] effort being the Recognised Seasonal Employer (rse) Policy initiated in 2007. The scheme allows up to five thousand workers annually from all Pacific Islands Forum nations, with formal agreements held with Vanuatu, Tonga, Sāmoa, Kiribati, Tuvalu, and Solomon Islands (Māhina-Tuai 2012, 174). Similar to the early waves of Pacific labor migration, such labor migrations bear the economic promise of remittances, which offer vital contributions to families back in the islands. Amid New Zealand's border closures in 2020 and 2021, the rse scheme gained renewed attention, with agricultural sector leaders publicly commenting on the importance of rse migrant workers to New Zealand's agricultural industry and successfully advocating for border exemptions for rse workers (Nagar 2020). Many members of Pacific diasporic communities have multiple interactions with migrants who provide pastoral care; for others, these mobility pathways can be casually relegated to memories of the past.

Migration to Korea is part of a wider inter-Asian movement that took place as the four Asian Tiger economies (Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, and Hong Kong) emerged in the 1980s, leading to many Pilipina migrant workers viewing the countries as "stepping up" locations accessed through traversing multiple national borders (Choo 2016). Hae Yeon Choo explained that this migration pattern is also heavily gendered: Pilipina pursue upward class mobility through multiple labor migrations but are systematically discouraged from long-term settlement, while being entrapped in domestic work and sex work via well-documented processes of occupational segregation, without any rights of citizenship (2016). Patrick's observation of the Pilipina in the second vignette is significant in that it highlights an instance of two people—each embedded in a distinct mobility pathway—colliding in the physical space of the immigration office. This collision makes visible how the privileges of settler-colonial citizenship are distributed unevenly across different mobility pathways. Patrick, as a Pacific person with settler-colonial citizenship, inverted the regional hierarchy of power in the Asia-Pacific—in which the Pacific is often erased by Asia—by asserting their cosmopolitan credentials. Their status as a highly educated, cisgender-presenting man gave them access to patriarchal privileges that allowed them to simply go to the immigration office alone. In contrast, the Pilipina was accompanied by, and spoken for, by her Korean boss.

While forces of globalization have certainly intensified transnational migrant practices and diversified the kinds of transnational actors mediating such practices, the "transnational" writ large is not a new phenomenon. For instance, cities like Auckland have long been framed as [End Page 338] pitonu'u, or subvillages—direct extensions of the villages in the islands (Macpherson and Macpherson 2009, 83). Although their physical and social distance from the islands' villages has meant that the pitonu'u do not always exert great influence over everyday life in the islands, they are nonetheless a testament to how diasporic Moana populations are often part of the same transnational village (Levitt 2001)—that is, embedded in social networks that span multiple communities across national borders. As such, the growing Moana diaspora in New Zealand and elsewhere should not be interpreted as population "loss" for the home islands but rather as population expansion and relocation and as a decidedly cultural act that maintains social and cultural ties across national borders (Macpherson and Macpherson 2009, 82; Lilomaiava-Doktor 2009). In this way, we take our cues from Michael Peter Smith, who argued that the "transnational" should be understood as a theoretical optic—a lens with which to understand migration beyond reified methodological nationalism (2005; see also Sager 2016).

The moment in the immigration office is a reminder of the mobility pathways that Pacific people in New Zealand can now legally access as beneficiaries of settler-colonial citizenship. In October 2020, spurred by New Zealand's response to COVID-19, the Passport Index ranked the New Zealand passport the world's most powerful form of citizenship (Coffey 2020). While this ranking is not definitive, exhaustive, or absolute, it offers yet another indicator of the global premium placed on New Zealand citizenship. Further, the New Zealand passport also offers a mode of racial ambiguity in these kinds of settings, much like Patrick's racially ambiguous surname, which is tied to Germany's old empire in the Pacific. This reflects an important tension wherein Pacific people in diaspora can both benefit from and resist their settler-colonial national identity—a tension that we explore further in our next section on the transnational performativity of Pacific culture.

Pasifika Connect, Cultural Night, July 2018

"KaoTalk, KaoTalk," my phone shouted at me. It had been flickering, buzzing, and screaming incessantly the whole day while I was in the middle of trying to give lectures. I knew it was probably important. My friend Tara and I were frantically trying to find enough performers to fill the Pasifika Connect lineup for 2018. I checked the name next to all the yellow icons, and I was right, it was Tara. "Dave's not gonna be able to perform." [End Page 339] "Shit," I mumbled under my breath. Dave was our resident Cook Islander performer from New Zealand, and without him we would have next to no men performing in the show. "So, who's gonna do the Cook Island number?" I replied. "I can do a slow one with candles. I'll get Jo to do it with me," she said. I giggled when I thought about how Tara, a Samoan, and Jo, a Fijian-Pālagi, would be doing a Cook Island dance. I wondered what my Cook Islander friends at home might have thought about this mishmash, this remix.

"KaoTalk, KaoTalk." This time it was Jerah, a Tongan woman from Wellington whom I had met randomly at the Pasifika Connect event the previous year, messaging me in the group chat with the Samoan and Tongan girls living in Suwon (a satellite city of Seoul). "All the girls are coming up for rehearsal from 10 am. We meeting near Hakdong station?" "Yup, exit 3, outside the Maccas, and we'll go use Brian's office for practice."

About six weeks prior, we sat around a table in Gangnam on a Saturday afternoon discussing who would do the closing number for the show. Usually, the taualuga (finale) is performed by one of the girls, but I was the eldest and the chairperson of the organization, as well as the choreographer of all the Samoan numbers. The team resolved that I would do the closing number. I protested that this was something I shouldn't do, being the eldest and only male in an all-girls dance troupe. The Suwon girls, who were Samoan and Tongan, said they weren't "dancers" per se; only one of them was used to dancing in groups back in New Zealand. I reminded them that as Pacific people, we are all performers, forced into dance items for church, school, family gatherings, and community events. "We know how to put on shows," I rallied them. The girls and I then spoke about how we felt it vital for us to represent our cultural identities despite not being professional dancers, as we had all felt and spoken about the weird way those identities had collapsed into our New Zealand citizenship while living in South Korea. It was something we felt a duty to remedy having grown up in New Zealand, where we are literally reminded each day that we are different from other New Zealanders. It was also important to us knowing that while our history in New Zealand is tied to our perpetual marginalization, in South Korea, we're suddenly ambassadors for a country that hasn't always treated us and our kinfolk well.

So I dutifully sent for some siapo (bark cloth), a pale fuiono (headpiece), a kiki fulumoa (wraparound Samoan feather belt used for dancing), and a sei fulumoa (feathers for hair adornment) from New Zealand, which my [End Page 340] mum prepared. Meanwhile, I asked my cousin to source and send over a nifo oti (ceremonial war weapon used in dances) from Apia, which got held up in Hong Kong and then at Incheon International Airport for days before Korean customs released it to me. I had barely had an opportunity to reflect on the transnational nature of how I had assembled my costume when I had to begin practicing faithfully in my room, learning to twist, twirl, flip, and rip the wallpaper in my apartment, with the nifo oti reminding me that I was practicing, performing, and displaying my culture for two audiences. I did so for my fellow Pacific Islanders as a way to build an inherently pan-Pacific solidarity and for a Korean audience who had few reference points for our cultures beyond the success of Disney's Moana. Both audiences, I realized, were people who weren't all too familiar with what an "authentic" Samoan performance is supposed to look like. Actually, when I think about it, I don't know that I knew then, or even now, what an "authentic" Samoan performance is.

Nonetheless, the following week, with the New Zealand and Papua New Guinea ambassadors in attendance, the show was a huge success. FIJI Water, represented by a hot dude from some European country, ran a social media competition and gave away bottles of water to the crowd. The New Zealand embassy sponsored our professional photographer; the Papua New Guinea embassy donated some Papua New Guinea arts and crafts, as well as some beer; and local Itaewon businesses and the New Zealand Chamber of Commerce provided sponsorship and additional giveaways for the event. And after playing master of ceremonies for the whole night, I quickly ducked backstage and changed into my dance costume. Korean 1,000 won bills flew in the air, accompanied by the unmistakable sound of the Samoan fa'aumu (a cheer heard during celebrations) being screamed by Samoans and non-Samoans alike into the oppressive Seoul summer night.

Transnational Identities Through Cultural Performances

Transnational migration scholars have long theorized the phenomenon of "transnational identities"—a concept hitherto used to refer to the hybridized, multifaceted identities held by migrants and their descendants—and how these identities are simultaneously shaped by territorial attachment to and sociopolitical membership in both their home countries and their host countries (Haller and Landolt 2005; Vertovec 2001). In our analysis of this vignette, we build on and complicate this concept of transnational [End Page 341] identities by proposing that such transnational identities are also (1) constituted through simultaneous embeddedness in the racial hierarchies of multiple (ie, two or more) nation-states in ways that go beyond the home/host binary of mainstream transnational migration studies and (2) performed for specific audiences in specific national contexts, which then shape the character and politics of these complex identity expressions. In their cultural performances, Pasifika Connect members navigate, express, and perform three distinct identities—their national identities as New Zealand citizens; their ancestral identities as Samoan, Niuean, or Tongan; and their regional identities as Pasifika/Pacific Islander/Moana peoples. But for whom are they performing these identities, and how are these performances shaped by their connectedness to multiple countries (ie, Korea, New Zealand, and their ancestral homes)?

A compelling case could be made for terminologies and groupings such as Pacific, Pasifika, and Moana as uniquely diasporic concepts in that they are formed precisely through Pacific peoples' dislocation from their homelands. Maualaivao Albert Wendt once famously joked that it is only when he walks through the international terminal at Auckland Airport that he becomes Pacific. Elsewhere, he is simply Samoan (Mila-Schaaf 2010, 22). This refers to how regional identities are perhaps embraced in response to dislocation, allowing for different Pacific peoples to form panethnic collectives built on panethnic solidarity and their shared connection to Oceania. While social categories such as Pacific and Pasifika, and the panethnic solidarity that they attempt to cultivate, are widely studied by scholarship that emerges from New Zealand and out of Pacific Studies more broadly, we know less about how this regional identity is constituted, articulated, and performed when migrant descendants move beyond their host countries to other countries and beyond.

Pasifika Connect offers an empirical case that begins to address this knowledge gap, while also demonstrating how the affirmation of a panethnic Pacific identity can be an act of resistance. Pasifika Connect's Pacific performance seems to have two primary functions: it allows members to affirm their Pacific identity and shared Oceanic roots, and, through this, it enables each person to resist being reduced to just another English teacher from New Zealand. Indeed, a Foucauldian lens might suggest the following: as inheritors of legacies of colonialism and imperialism, and facing the ongoing threats of erasure and capitalist oppression beyond their (first) host country, Pacific peoples are compelled, perhaps by existential necessity, to proclaim to the world our identities and cultures. When we fail [End Page 342] to proclaim our identities—and when we fail to resist the universalizing tendencies of national citizenships—then we risk erasure. In claiming and privileging their regional panethnic identity as Pacific people rather than their national identity as New Zealanders, members of Pasifika Connect thus engage in an act of defiance, a performed response to the threats posed by historical colonialism and ongoing settler colonialism. Permitting interethnic appropriation is an instrumental strategy to enact this response, to address the threat, and to reject erasure.

Pacific performances also offer a range of spatial realities predicated on Indigenous Moana ways of being. Kanaka Maoli geographers Renee Pualani Louis and Moana Kahele wrote that a Kanaka cartographic understanding is based on a "compilation of intimate, interactive, and integrative processes that expresses Kanaka Hawai'i spatial realities through specific perspectives, protocols, and performances" (2017, xvii). These specific performances include mele and mo'olelo, which evidence an Indigenous, culturally rooted understanding of space (Chang 2016). Elsewhere, Sonja Stanley Niaah looked at the performance of Black Atlantic performance geographies, which trace the local self-articulations of "physical, mental, emotional and spiritual" activities. Dancehall and blues music are examples of these performances, which act as hidden transcripts to transgress hegemonic discourses as "transnational/cosmopolitan performance" (Stanley Niaah 2007, 32). Understanding spatiality in this way acknowledges how social geography can be an act of placemaking firmly outside of dominant (colonial) modes of spatial conquest, in which cartography (naming and mapping) has functioned as a tool of imperialism. Through maps, the various colonial nations authored, adopted, and adapted a type of political biographical narrative. Coloring one's colonies on a map became a significant practice and way of understanding global spatiality, laying foundations for contemporary understandings of globality. This, however, is firmly at odds with Indigenous Pacific ways of understanding and relating to the natural world, wherein different islands are connected through seafaring practices and Pacific cosmologies rather than separated via Westphalian national borders. For Pasifika Connect, this performative act of placemaking does not quite create a space beyond colonial modes of spatiality, but it certainly does gesture to alternative ways of placemaking and alternative spatial realities.

While this article has already elaborated on the role of settler-colonial citizenship for Pacific peoples as a key mechanism that enables upward mobility through multinational migrations, it is important to acknowledge [End Page 343] the role Pacific performances play in New Zealand and how the specificity of those performances becomes upwardly mobile as well. These performances in New Zealand Pacific festivals, church events, and family gatherings offer a prehistory to the flavor of the kind of Pacific performed in places like Seoul, as they are themselves a local articulation of Pacific culture in New Zealand, developed over the past fifty to seventy years of diaspora formation, that is now being exported globally through upward mobility, as exemplified by Pasifika Connect.

To further complicate the discussion, it is important to acknowledge the tensions that arise in this upward mobility and the transnational performativity of Pacific culture. The articulation of Pacific-ness being performed is uniquely local to the panethnic Pacific identity formation in New Zealand and is thus inscribed with representations of the settler-colonial state. This is nowhere more apparent than in the way the New Zealand settler-colonial state has appropriated symbols of Māori culture as part of its global branding, as seen with the haka (ceremonial Māori dance traditionally performed in preparation for battles) of the All Blacks, New Zealand's national rugby team. However, within these global spaces, the role of the nation-state in the formation of a Pacific identity becomes invisibilized: the performances of these identities are falsely accepted as "authentic" performances of traditional, pure ancestral cultures from Pacific homelands, despite the ways in which they are thoroughly shaped by multiple racial hierarchies across multiple nation-states.

There are real stakes in the invisibilization of the role that multiple nation-states play in the formation and articulation of identity and culture. First, the enactment of panethnic Pacific cultural performance—in this case a specifically New Zealand diasporic articulation of an ostensibly coherent and bounded Pacific culture—has the potential to erase the true heterogeneity and complexity of Pacific cultures. Second, the specific articulation of Pacific culture is performed by a specific group of Pacific people who benefit from settler-colonial citizenship and who have access to teaching and performance opportunities in a country like Korea. Indeed, the uneven mobility pathways afforded to Moana peoples allow only certain Pacific cultures and identities to travel and only certain Pacific peoples to perform them. The teaching and performance opportunities afforded to the members of Pasifika Connect may not be available to the many other Pacific people who remain in the Pacific Islands for one reason or another.

Additionally, we see Pasifika Connect perform Moana cultures for consumption in Korea, where there is no critical mass of Pacific Islanders. [End Page 344] Absent this critical mass, Pasifika Connect liberally borrows from and flagrantly transgresses the cultural norms of different Pacific dances, permitting Koreans and other Pacific Islanders to perform them in ways that may not otherwise be permitted in the cultural context of New Zealand. In the vignette, Patrick did not feel like he was the appropriate person to perform the taualuga because he was carrying cultural norms from New Zealand, where there is a critical mass of Samoans and where young women are the designated performers of this Samoan dance. However, the scarcity of Pacific Islanders in Korea results in different performance needs (eg, having Pacific people pulled into roles they would not usually fill) and the personal need to affirm a Pacific identity above and beyond one's national identity.

As diasporic Pacific Islanders, we understand our cultures as malleable and living. In our contexts, there is a need to continue to resist the dominance of the colonial imagination and its desire to assimilate us. While we should look at Pacific performativity critically against notions of self-essentialization, we also leave room for living cultures to innovate as they interact with colonialism and settler colonialism and are reconfigured in various ways. There is still much work to be done in thinking through Pacific performances in moves of upward mobility, but we argue that asking these questions opens the possibilities of fraying the edges of culture, mobility, citizenship, and identity in generative ways.

Conclusion

Settler colonialism is often conceived narrowly as the legal relationship between a settler state and a displaced Indigenous minority group, which is bolstered and reinforced through social, cultural, political, and economic processes at the scale of the nation-state. However, following Setsu Shigematsu and Keith L Camacho's landmark anthology Militarized Currents (2010), we instead start from the premise that contemporary settler colonialism is also fundamentally about the global configuration of power relations between multiple, overlapping empires. Such power relations simultaneously perpetuate the displacement and dispossession of Indigenous peoples and facilitate the accumulation of privilege among settler populations. In this article, we observe that the global premium placed on certain national citizenships is a primary mechanism through which the symbolic and legal privileges of the settler-colonial state are transmitted to Pacific settlers and their descendants, who—over generations—gain access [End Page 345] to additional legal mobility pathways to other countries. This multinational, intergenerational frame is critical in capturing not only how settler-colonial citizenship operates to shape Moana mobilities but also the implications for Pacific transnational identities. As the above vignettes reveal, identity, culture, and performance are all transnationally constituted through Pacific peoples' simultaneous embeddedness in multiple, overlapping racial hierarchies in multiple nations.

Future research could build on this article in numerous ways. First, much can be done to elaborate on settler-colonial citizenship: what are the specific institutions, mechanisms, and third-party actors through which global premiums and penalties are placed on legal citizenship from different nations—what Yossi Harpaz has termed a "global hierarchy of citizenship value" (2019b, 898)? There are questions of uniqueness, too: To what extent is settler-colonial citizenship within Oceania different from settler-colonial citizenship elsewhere, and to what extent are the consequences of settler-colonial citizenship mediated by the race or ethnicity of its beneficiaries?

Second, our expanded conception of transnational identities—which captures how identity is performed and simultaneously embedded in the racial hierarchies of multiple nation-states—brings performance studies to bear on mainstream syntheses of transnational migration studies and ethnic studies, raising additional questions about how different national, social, and cultural contexts shape the character, meanings, and politics of identity performances. In this regard, performance studies has much to contribute to existing scholarship on transnational identities. Returning empirically to the transnational identities of Pacific Islanders, future research might study how Pacific people navigate the essentialist tropes of Pacific Islanders as hula-dancing, indomitably happy natives and the ways in which they conform to, subvert, or repurpose these tropes in their transnational navigation of identity, culture, and citizenship. As Gloria Anzaldúa wrote, "Living on borders and in margins, keeping intact one's shifting and multiple identity and integrity, is like trying to swim in a new element, an 'alien' element" (1987, 19). Highly mobile Pacific peoples bestowed with the privileges of settler-colonial citizenship are not only swimming in new alien environments but also performing in alien environments that have limited understandings of what the Pacific is and who Pacific Islanders are. By highlighting performances of transnational identities, we take one step toward better understanding the conditions and consequences of empire and settler-colonial citizenship as global processes—and how this is reshaping the landscape of contemporary Moana mobilities. [End Page 346]

Patrick Saulmatino Thomsen

patrick saulmatino thomsen (Sāmoa) is a senior lecturer in global studies at the University of Auckland. He is the principal investigator for the Manalagi Project (manalagi.org), as well as the producer and codirector of the Manalagi tv series funded by New Zealand On Air. His transdisciplinary research interests straddle the intersections of transnational Pacific studies, queer studies, international studies, and Korean studies. His monograph, titled From Sleepless in Seattle to I Seoul You: Korean Gay Men and Cross-cultural Encounters in Transnational Times, is due for release in March 2023.

Lana Lopesi

lana lopesi (Sāmoa) has been newly appointed as assistant professor in Pacific Islander studies in the Department of Indigenous, Race, and Ethnic Studies at the University of Oregon. She is also author of False Divides (2018) and Bloody Woman (2021) and coeditor of the edited volumes Towards a Grammar of Race: In Aotearoa New Zealand (2022) and Pacific Spaces: Translations and Mutations (2022). Additionally, she is coeditor of Marinade: Aotearoa Journal of Moana Art.

Kevin Lujan Lee

kevin lujan lee (familian Capili) is a Chamoru researcher with ancestral roots in Låguas yan Gåni (the Mariånas archipelago). A PhD candidate in urban planning and sociology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he is broadly interested in the role of state-society relations in comparative and global perspective, with a substantive focus on low-wage work and Indigenous politics. He is coprincipal investigator of the 2021 Guåhan Survey (guamstudy.org), the largest-scale survey of Chamoru political attitudes toward decolonization, and his dissertation is a cross-national study of Pacific Islander community organizing in the United States and Aotearoa New Zealand.

Patrick, Lana, and Kevin would like to thank all their elders, ancestors, relatives and communities, whose bravery, adaptability, and innovation embody the possibilities of Moana mobilities that we all benefit from, and navigate, today.

Notes

1. We use Pacific, Pasifika, Moana, and Moana-Oceania interchangeably throughout this article to acknowledge the diffuse terms that Pacific Islanders use to refer to our ocean, nations, region, and part of the world. In doing so, we also acknowledge the diversity of realities that exist within our region without intending to collapse this under one label.

2. Officially founded by Theresa Nive Tupuola (Sāmoa) and a group of English teachers from New Zealand, Pasifika Connect began as an annual celebration of Pacific culture among Pacific expats between 2012 and 2014 and expanded to include pastoral care elements and representation activities. Its membership fluctuated regularly, with a heavy Samoan presence, and during Patrick's time as chair, the core group numbered roughly twenty, with the majority of members being Tongan, Samoan, or both. All but two of the core members carried New Zealand citizenship, and one member was of Pilipinx ancestry by way of Hawai'i and carried US citizenship.

3. Patrick uses both he/him/his and they/them/their pronouns, as demonstrated throughout this article.

4. This is an observation that is only beginning to gain more traction within migration studies; most prominently, however, it has shaped recent scholarship on new trends in dual citizenship holders. See Harpaz 2019a.

5. We use Pilipina instead of the conventional term Filipina to refer to women (and women-identifying individuals) with ancestral roots in the Philippines, because Tagalog––the native language of ethnic Pilipinos––does not have "F" in its alphabet. For references to all individuals with ancestral roots in the Philippines, we use the queer-inclusive variant Pilipinx.

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