Vernice Wineera

Ngāti Toa, Ngāti Raukawa

1938 -



Vernice Wineera was born in Wellington and grew up at Takapuwahia Pa, Porirua. She was educated at Sydney Girls’ High School and Wellington Technical College. She has resided in La’ie, Hawaii, since 1960 and attended Brigham Young University, Hawaii, where she graduated B.A. (magna cum laude) in English in 1977. In 1978 the Institute for Polynesian Studies published her first book of poems, Mahanga, and in 1979 the Polynesian Cultural Centre published Ka Po’e o La’ie, an anthology of La’ie poetry which she edited. Vernice was awarded the 1980 South Pacific Festival of Arts Literature Prize for her poetry collection. She taught English and Creative Writing at BYU-Hawaii and was editorial assistant at the Institute for Polynesian Studies from She was Vice-President of the Polynesian Cultural Centre from In 1992 she was appointed coordinator of University Publications and editor of the university’s Profile magazine. In 1995 she became Director of the Institute for Polynesian Studies.

Vernice earned her M.A. (1994) and her PhD (2000) in American Studies from the University of Hawaii. Her dissertation was entitled “Selves and Others: A Study of Reflexivity and the Representation of Culture in Touristic Display at the Polynesian Cultural Centre, Laie, Hawaii”; the thesis explores issues of tourist expectations and the stereotypes of Polynesia which persist within those expectations. Polynesian culture as represented at the Polynesian Cultural Center is revealed to be a blending of creative appropriation of outside influences; subtle and not-so-subtle undermining of visitor fantasies; Latter-day Saint gospel principles; postmodern corporate demands; and the foundational forms of traditional cultural ritual, display, and entertainment. Integral to her study is an examination of how the Mormon Polynesian employees reflexively balance the demands of these several influences in their jobs and how the Polynesian Cultural Center provides a forum for their self-representation.

Vernice is a former editor of Kula Manu, the BYU-Hawaii literary journal; her poetry has appeared in Te Ao Hou, Eve, Kula Manu and Ensign (USA). She has also worked with pen and ink and woodcuts. Speaking of her art and poetry, Wineera says: “My Māoritanga and Polynesian heritage is the vital element in my work. I see the Pacific as an extended marae that is rich in culture and I try to express this in poetry and art that reveal the universals in human experience.”



Biographical sources

  • Correspondence from Wineera on 3 Feb. 1998 and 18 Nov. 2004.
  • "Vernice Wineeera Pere Wins International Acclaim." Tu Tangata 3 (1981): 30.
  • Te Kaea 5 Feb. 1981.
  • Into the World of Light: An Anthology of Māori Writing. Ed. Witi Ihimaera and D. S. Long. Auckland, N.Z.: Heinemann, 1982. 181-183.
  • New Zealand Who’s Who Aotearoa. Ed. Alister Taylor. Vol. 1. Auckland, N.Z.: New Zealand Who’s Who Aotearoa, 1992. 228.

    Poetry

  • "Christmas Wish." Te Ao Hou 76 (1975): 26. Rpt. in Mahanga: Pacific Poems. Vernice Wineera Pere. Laie, HI: Institute for Polynesian Studies, Brigham Young U-Hawaii Campus, 1978. 30.
  • An old man buying Christmas cake reminds the speaker of her own grandfather who came to Christmas with a flood of gifts to atone for his drunkenness.
  • "Toa Rangātira." Te Ao Hou 76 (1975): 26. Rpt. in Mahanga: Pacific Poems. Vernice Wineera Pere. Laie, HI: Institute for Polynesian Studies, Brigham Young U-Hawaii Campus, 1978. 18. Rpt. in Te Ao Mārama: Contemporary Māori Writing. Comp. and ed. Witi Ihimaera. Contributing ed. Haare Williams, Irihapeti Ramsden and D. S. Long. Vol. 3: Te Puāwaitanga o Te Kōrero: The Flowering. Auckland, N.Z.: Reed, 1993. 178-179.
  • The poet recalls the time when she returned to a marae where the tekoteko had once seemed huge in her memories only to find ‘peeling paint/Weathered wood/ Blind-eyed dusty panes’ and the tekoteko ‘gave no sign / Save that carved out/ Of defiance.’
  • "My Father." Te Ao Hou 76 (1975): 26-27.
  • The poet writes of the awkwardness in some families at expressing and receiving love.
  • "Mahanga." ibid. 27. Rpt. in Mahanga: Pacific Poems. Vernice Wineera Pere. Laie, HI: Institute for Polynesian Studies, Brigham Young U-Hawaii Campus, 1978. 1.
  • In this poem, named after her son and his grandfather, the poet recognises the younger generation growing up in a world separated from the tribal traditions and language.
  • "The Most Honest Realist." Mahanga: Pacific Poems. Vernice Wineera Pere. Laie, HI: Institute for Polynesian Studies, Brigham Young U-Hawaii Campus, 1978. 2.
  • The poet writes of the difficulties of writing poetry and the dilemma of marrying ‘the metaphor/of idealism/ with that of mortality.’
  • "Poet." Mahanga: Pacific Poems. Vernice Wineera Pere. Laie, HI: Institute for Polynesian Studies, Brigham Young U-Hawaii Campus, 1978. 3.
  • The poet likens the process of writing poetry and receiving brief moments of critical acclaim to Icarus’s journey to the sun and his ignominious fall to earth.
  • "Jig Saw Puzzle." Mahanga: Pacific Poems. Vernice Wineera Pere. Laie, HI: Institute for Polynesian Studies, Brigham Young U-Hawaii Campus, 1978. 4.
  • This poem contrasts the reality of attempting to bring order and beauty out of the perplexities of life with the artificial ‘visions of reality’ depicted in ‘mass-produced [jigsaw] puzzles’.
  • "Negative View." Mahanga: Pacific Poems. Vernice Wineera Pere. Laie, HI: Institute for Polynesian Studies, Brigham Young U-Hawaii Campus, 1978. 5.
  • In looking at an old negative of herself the speaker recognises an aspect of herself that has an insatiable desire to ask questions and an equally persistent ambition not to accept ‘impossible answers.’ She concludes that while a questioning mind is praised, the refusal to accept answers is deemed ‘just plain rebellious.’
  • "The Cherry Tree." Mahanga: Pacific Poems. Vernice Wineera Pere. Laie, HI: Institute for Polynesian Studies, Brigham Young U-Hawaii Campus, 1978. 6.
  • The poet writes of how her perception of a ‘stunted’ cherry tree in blossom amidst ‘the grey and grimy air’ changes when she observes an old lady from an institution gain new strength after a few moments of examining ‘its tiny button blossoms’.
  • "The Farm-Boy Rides A Yamaha." Mahanga: Pacific Poems. Vernice Wineera Pere. Laie, HI: Institute for Polynesian Studies, Brigham Young U-Hawaii Campus, 1978. 7.
  • The imaginary world of a ten-year-old farm boy transports him far beyond the simple task of gathering the cows together for milking
  • "Weeping Willows." Mahanga: Pacific Poems. Vernice Wineera Pere. Laie, HI: Institute for Polynesian Studies, Brigham Young U-Hawaii Campus, 1978. 8.
  • The poet remembers her childhood days and mourns the loss of them in the process of growing up.
  • "Still Life." Mahanga: Pacific Poems. Vernice Wineera Pere. Laie, HI: Institute for Polynesian Studies, Brigham Young U-Hawaii Campus, 1978. 9.
  • Preparing for children returning home from school.
  • "Teaching." Mahanga: Pacific Poems. Vernice Wineera Pere. Laie, HI: Institute for Polynesian Studies, Brigham Young U-Hawaii Campus, 1978. 10.
  • A reflection on the true nature of teaching as opposed to simply ‘telling’.
  • "Why Do We Smile?" Mahanga: Pacific Poems. Vernice Wineera Pere. Laie, HI: Institute for Polynesian Studies, Brigham Young U-Hawaii Campus, 1978. 12.
  • A reflection on the superficialities of social greetings.
  • "Reflections." Mahanga: Pacific Poems. Vernice Wineera Pere. Laie, HI: Institute for Polynesian Studies, Brigham Young U-Hawaii Campus, 1978. 13.
  • The poet treasures a small, transitory gift from her three small children.
  • "Boy In A Sleeping Bag." Mahanga: Pacific Poems. Vernice Wineera Pere. Laie, HI: Institute for Polynesian Studies, Brigham Young U-Hawaii Campus, 1978. 14.
  • A portrait of a young boy’s careful preparations for bed.
  • "Daily Dose." Mahanga: Pacific Poems. Vernice Wineera Pere. Laie, HI: Institute for Polynesian Studies, Brigham Young U-Hawaii Campus, 1978. 15.
  • A litany of pain which heightens the speaker’s tenacity to hold onto the elusive thread of life.
  • "Waiting Room." Mahanga: Pacific Poems. Vernice Wineera Pere. Laie, HI: Institute for Polynesian Studies, Brigham Young U-Hawaii Campus, 1978. 16.
  • A study on the dislocated relationship of strangers sitting in a waiting room and how this relationship might change if these were the last people on earth.
  • "Transcendental Thought." Mahanga: Pacific Poems. Vernice Wineera Pere. Laie, HI: Institute for Polynesian Studies, Brigham Young U-Hawaii Campus, 1978. 17.
  • The poet writes of the confluence of island living and the 20th century pace of life.
  • "At Porirua." Mahanga: Pacific Poems. Vernice Wineera Pere. Laie, HI: Institute for Polynesian Studies, Brigham Young U-Hawaii Campus, 1978. 20. Rpt. in Into the World of Light: An Anthology of Māori Writing. Ed. Witi Ihimaera and D. S. Long. Auckland, N.Z.: Heinemann, 1982. 181.
  • The speaker recalls an accident in her childhood that cut across an idyllic day at the beach digging up ‘fat pipis’.
  • "Split Personalities." Mahanga: Pacific Poems. Vernice Wineera Pere. Laie, HI: Institute for Polynesian Studies, Brigham Young U-Hawaii Campus, 1978. 21.
  • The conflicts of dual Māori-Pakeha descent.
  • "Acculturation." Mahanga: Pacific Poems. Vernice Wineera Pere. Laie, HI: Institute for Polynesian Studies, Brigham Young U-Hawaii Campus, 1978. 22.
  • A poem highlighting the inherent connections between two of the same culture.
  • "Pake Cake and Prayer." Mahanga: Pacific Poems. Vernice Wineera Pere. Laie, HI: Institute for Polynesian Studies, Brigham Young U-Hawaii Campus, 1978. 23.
  • A consideration of the little rituals in life.
  • "Big Surf." Mahanga: Pacific Poems. Vernice Wineera Pere. Laie, HI: Institute for Polynesian Studies, Brigham Young U-Hawaii Campus, 1978. 24.
  • A poem highlighting the fragile security of island living when high tides pound against shorefront houses.
  • "Laie." .” Mahanga: Pacific Poems. Vernice Wineera Pere. Laie, HI: Institute for Polynesian Studies, Brigham Young U-Hawaii Campus, 1978. 25.
  • This haiku portrays a seaside village at night.
  • "Premonition." Mahanga: Pacific Poems. Vernice Wineera Pere. Laie, HI: Institute for Polynesian Studies, Brigham Young U-Hawaii Campus, 1978. 25.
  • In this haiko a black shag flying across the ‘pale morning sky’ resonates with significance.
  • "Hokule’a." Mahanga: Pacific Poems. Vernice Wineera Pere. Laie, HI: Institute for Polynesian Studies, Brigham Young U-Hawaii Campus, 1978. 26-27.
  • A poem describing the launching of Hokule’a, which, the poet writes in the glossary, is a ‘canoe of the Polynesian Voyaging Society that sailed from Hawaii to Tahiti.’
  • "Watching The Limu-pickers." Mahanga: Pacific Poems. Vernice Wineera Pere. Laie, HI: Institute for Polynesian Studies, Brigham Young U-Hawaii Campus, 1978. 28.
  • The poet writes of her early morning vision of limu pickers working along the shoreline and covered with ‘[t]he water’s luminescence’.
  • "Pacific Note." Mahanga: Pacific Poems. Vernice Wineera Pere. Laie, HI: Institute for Polynesian Studies, Brigham Young U-Hawaii Campus, 1978. 31.
  • In this poem the poet meditates on her lifelong closeness to the sea and contemplates the claustrophobia she would feel if separated from the shoreline.
  • "The Urewera’s." Mahanga: Pacific Poems. Vernice Wineera Pere. Laie, HI: Institute for Polynesian Studies, Brigham Young U-Hawaii Campus, 1978. 32.
  • The poet writes of driving up the winding roads of the Ureweras and on reaching a summit contemplating the fragility of life.
  • "Song From Kapiti." Mahanga: Pacific Poems. Vernice Wineera Pere. Laie, HI: Institute for Polynesian Studies, Brigham Young U-Hawaii Campus, 1978. 34. Rpt. in Into the World of Light: An Anthology of Māori Writing. Ed. Witi Ihimaera and D. S. Long. Auckland, N.Z.: Heinemann, 1982. 179. Rpt. in Countless Signs: The New Zealand Landscape in Literature. Comp. Trudie McNaughton. Auckland, N.Z.: Reed Methuen, 1986. 66.
  • The speaker likens herself to ‘a lone sea-bird’ in limbo seeking her place ‘in a mainland society’.
  • "Taaniko." Mahanga: Pacific Poems. Vernice Wineera Pere. Laie, HI: Institute for Polynesian Studies, Brigham Young U-Hawaii Campus, 1978. 35.
  • The poet acknowledges the interweaving aspects of her life, woven together like taaniko.
  • "Lesson." Mahanga: Pacific Poems. Vernice Wineera Pere. Laie, HI: Institute for Polynesian Studies, Brigham Young U-Hawaii Campus, 1978. 36.
  • The poet writes of the elusive quality of inspired writing that cannot be induced at will but often comes at least expected moments.
  • "To A Childhood Teacher." Mahanga: Pacific Poems. Vernice Wineera Pere. Laie, HI: Institute for Polynesian Studies, Brigham Young U-Hawaii Campus, 1978. 37.
  • The poet reflects on the beneficial impact of a teacher from her childhood.
  • "A Taste of Learning." Mahanga: Pacific Poems. Vernice Wineera Pere. Laie, HI: Institute for Polynesian Studies, Brigham Young U-Hawaii Campus, 1978. 38-39.
  • The speaker mourns the ending of a class.
  • Mahanga: Pacific Poems. Vernice Wineera Pere. Laie, HI: Institute for Polynesian Studies, Brigham Young U-Hawaii Campus, 1978.
  • In this first collection of poems published by a Māori woman, Wineera Pere writes in her Introduction that the book is ‘an attempt to give voice to the heritage of twin cultures with which [she] identif[ies].’ The collection is composed of thirty-eight poems and a glossary in which Pere writes of the craft of the poet and the profession of teaching. She explores identity and culture and describes separation from her home country and ambivalence with turangawaewae. Other themes include the artificialities of human society, the innocent pursuits of childhood, domestic views, and the cohabitation of humankind with the natural elements of sea, wind and air.
  • "Walking on Water." Mana Review 4. 2 (1979): 30-31.
  • This is Part 18 of the 1979 South Pacific Festival of Arts prize-winning poem of the same title.
  • "Mama-san." Ka Po’e o La’ie. Ed. Vernice Wineera Pere. La’ie, HI: Polynesian Cultural Centre, 1979. Rpt. in Te Ao Mārama: Contemporary Māori Writing. Comp. and ed. Witi Ihimaera. Contributing ed. Haare Williams, Irihapeti Ramsden and D. S. Long. Vol. 3: Te Puāwaitanga o Te Kōrero: The Flowering. Auckland, N.Z.: Reed, 1993. 180.
  • A portrait of a fruit-seller.
  • "At La’ieloa." Ka Po’e o La’ie. Ed. Vernice Wineera Pere. La’ie, HI: Polynesian Cultural Centre, 1979. Rpt. in Te Ao Mārama: Contemporary Māori Writing. Comp. and ed. Witi Ihimaera. Contributing ed. Haare Williams, Irihapeti Ramsden and D. S. Long. Vol. 3: Te Puāwaitanga o Te Kōrero: The Flowering. Auckland, N.Z.: Reed, 1993. 181.
  • The poet writes of the ravages of pollution on a turtle.
  • "Essay." Ka Po’e o La’ie. Ed. Vernice Wineera Pere. La’ie, HI: Polynesian Cultural Centre, 1979. Rpt. in Te Ao Mārama: Contemporary Māori Writing. Comp. and ed. Witi Ihimaera. Contributing ed. Haare Williams, Irihapeti Ramsden and D. S. Long. Vol. 3: Te Puāwaitanga o Te Kōrero: The Flowering. Auckland, N.Z.: Reed, 1993.182.
  • The sentiments of a student learning English.
  • Ka Po’e o La’ie. Ed. Vernice Wineera Pere. Laie, HI: Polynesian Cultural Centre, 1979.
  • "Cultural Shock." Mana: Hawaii Edition: A South Pacific Journal of Language and Literature 6.1 (1981): 60.
  • A short poem in which the poet contrasts the seductiveness of ‘[t]he haole girl in short shorts’ with the ‘white-toothed innocence of lusty Tongan males / holding hands.’
  • "Color Conscious." Mana: Hawaii Edition: A South Pacific Journal of Language and Literature 6.1 (1981): 61.
  • The poet writes of a highly elaborate wedding between her friend and a ‘pink palagi’.
  • "The Representatives Gather In Council." [first line] Te Kaea: The Māori Magazine 5 (Feb. 1981): 26.
  • The poet writes of the contemporary issues that face today’s ‘new chiefs’.
  • "Take The Sharpened Pipi Shell... [first line]." Tu Tangata 3 (Nov./Dec. 1981): 30.
  • The speaker calls for a clear articulation of her Māori identity like the inscribing of the moko, which would ‘erase doubt / as to who / [she is] and enable all to see that she is part of ‘this vast marae / that is the Pacific / we call home.’
  • "Bitter-Sweet." ibid. 11. Rpt. in Into the World of Light: An Anthology of Māori Writing. Ed. Witi Ihimaera and D. S. Long. Auckland, N.Z.: Heinemann, 1982. 181-182.
  • While searching for her childhood home in a street of old houses the speaker suddenly realises that she would rather forget the memories of that house.
  • "The Boy Named Pita." ibid. 29. Rpt. in Into the World of Light: An Anthology of Māori Writing. Ed. Witi Ihimaera and D.S.Long. Auckland, N.Z.: Heinemann, 1982. 180.
  • An evocative picture of an isolated boy attacked on the streets and his old Polynesian grandmother watching TV distractedly as she waits for his return.
  • "Wellington, Circa 1950." Into the World of Light: An Anthology of Māori Writing. Ed. Witi Ihimaera and D. S. Long. Auckland, N.Z.: Heinemann, 1982. 182-183.
  • A bleak picture of a poverty-stricken household in Wellington.
  • "Whakarewarewa." ibid. 33. Rpt. in Countless Signs: The New Zealand Landscape in Literature. Comp. Trudie McNaughton. Auckland, N.Z.: Reed Methuen, 1986. 244.
  • The poet writes of her conflicting emotions and elusive sense of belonging when she returns to her ancestral home at Whakarewarewa.
  • "Ao Tea Roa." ibid. 19. Rpt. in Te Ao Mārama: Contemporary Māori Writing. Comp. and ed. Witi Ihimaera. Contributing ed. Haare Williams, Irihapeti Ramsden and D. S. Long. Vol. 3: Te Puāwaitanga o Te Kōrero: The Flowering. Auckland, N.Z.: Reed, 1993. 179
  • Noting the ‘civilising’ work of the early European settlers in felling the forests and clearing the land, the poet contends that she would prefer the land’s former untamed state ‘which offer[s] sanctuary / to the lost and tangled thoughts / of [her] mind.’

    Other

  • "Vernice Wineera Pere Wins International Acclaim." Tu Tangata 3 (Nov./Dec. 1981): 30.
  • A biographical account of Pere and description of her poetry on the occasion of her winning first prize in the South Pacific Festival of Arts’ Poetry Section in 1980.
  • Erai, Michelle, Fuli, Everdina, Irwin, Kathie and Wilcox, Lenaire. Māori Women: An Annotated Bibliography. [Wellington, N.Z.]: Michelle Erai, Everdina Fuli, Kathie Irwin and Lenaire Wilcox, 1991. 25.
  • McNaughton, Trudie. "Biographical Notes and Selected Bibliography." Countless Signs: The New Zealand Landscape in Literature. Comp. Trudie McNaughton. Auckland, N.Z.: Reed Methuen, 1986. 378.
  • Reviews

    Mahanga
  • Kora, Robin M. "Sensitive to her Mauri." Pacific Moana Quarterly 6.2 (1981): 237-238.