Central Europe and the South Pacific


A study of the German connection with New Zealand and by extension the South Pacific, with special reference to the arts and sciences, German-speaking settlements in the nineteenth century and German and Austrian refugees in the twentieth century. This course will be broken down into three key sections:

  1. German and Austrian migration to New Zealand and the South Pacific both past and present, with a specific focus on selected biographies. We will consider these biographies and autobiographies under the interdisciplinary study of life writing to reflect on the impact of these migrants to the South Pacific.
  2. German works of fiction set in the South Pacific. We will read and analyse the work Imperium by the contemporary "Wunderkind" Christian Kracht. Set in the early 20th Century, his text retraces the footsteps of August Engelhardt, a disillusioned German, who left Germany for the South Pacific in order to form a "coconut cult". The award winning book has not been without controversy- can it be considered racist?
  3. New Zealand and the South Pacific in Germany- reframed and reclaimed? From the Peoples Shows in the 19th Century to contemporary theatre and film, this section will look at how the Pacific has claimed their space in Germany. Excepts from "From Samoa with Love? Samoan Travellers in Germany 1895-1911: Retracing the Footsteps" as well as other texts and guest lectures will be used to consider the dynamics of the German and South Pacific connection.

Course outcomes:

With successful completion of this course you will have the opportunity to:

  • acquire knowledge of German speakers in the South Pacific from a historical perspective and apply it to contemporary migratory situations
  • understand and carry out close readings and critical analyses of texts and contexts
  • acquire skills in critical thinking, academic literacy, oral presentation, academic writing

Availability 2023

Not taught in 2023


Coordinator(s) Dr Nicole Perry


Christian Kracht, Imperium, 2013 (Links to an external site.)

James Bade ed., Eine Welt für sich: Deutschsprachige Siedler und Reisende in Neuseeland im 19. Jahrhundert, (1998) - Contact the course convenor.

James Bade ed., Im Schatten zweier Kriege: Deutsche und Österreicher in Neuseeland im 20. Jahrhundert, (2005) - Contact the course convenor.

Excerpts from: From Samoa with Love? Samoa- Völkerschauen im Deutschen Kaiserreich - eine Spurensuche (2014)

Te Rua, 1991 film: available on the library website TV and Radio through Mäori Television

Recommended Reading

See Talis for course readings.


Coursework only


GERMAN 391: 15 points