Pacific Languages Unit

The Pacific Languages Unit (PLU) is part of the Department of Literature and Language of the School of Humanities. It is based on the Emalus Campus in Port Vila, Vanuatu.

Mission Statement

To raise the awareness of Pacific Islanders about problems and issues relating to their own languages and other languages spoken in their country;

To provide Pacific Islanders with the skills necessary to ensure the survival and development of their languages;

To teach university credit courses in and about Pacific languages; and

To conduct research into Pacific languages and the language situation in the region.


In addition to teaching university courses, staff of the PLU can conduct or arrange workshops or other short-term training programs in areas such as :

  • Translation skills
  • Dictionary-making skills
  • Design of writing systems for unwritten languages
  • Curriculum design for national languages

The PLU is also available to advise governments and other bodies on matters including:

  • Language policy in the education system
  • Language use in the media
  • Dictionaries of national languages
  • Language policy and planning
  • Language maintenance
  • Cataloguing of dying languages

UNESCO Project

The PLU is a cooperating institution within the UNESCO Project on the Preservation of Indigenous Languages of the Melanesian Countries. The Vanuatu section of this project is coordinated by Hannah Vari-Bogiri. Work is currently being carried out on a number of threatened languages in Epi and Malakula.

People and Contacts

Academic Staff

The current staff of the PLU, with their research interests and other areas of expertise, are:

  • Robert Early, BA Victoria University of Wellington, BD, Melbourne College of Divinity, MA, Auckland, PhD Australian National University

Senior Lecturer

Descriptive studies of Pacific languages, especially Polynesian languages and the languages of central Vanuatu; translation theory and practise; linguistic typology; computer applications in language studies.

  • Hannah Vari-Bogiri, Cert. Ed. (ESL & FFL) St Mark & St John, BA, Grad. Dip. Ling., MEd Hons James Cook University

Assistant Lecturer

English and French as Second/Foreign Languages; multilingualism; Araki (Southwest Santo), Raga (Pentecost) and other languages of northern Vanuatu.

Postgraduate Students


  • Carol Aru (PG Dip. Ling.)
  • Véronique Puech (PhD): Multilingualism and Education in Vanuatu
  • Helen Tamtam (PhD): Literacy in Vanuatu
  • Hannah Vari-Bogiri (PhD): A descriptive grammar of Raga

Past Graduates

  • Jane Kanas (PG Dip Ling (1998), MA (2002)
  • John Tangalobani (PG Dip Ling (2002)
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