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NZ poet takes on perfect role at University of Auckland

Joseph Guenzler -

Selina Tusitala Marsh, a distinguished Samoan, Tuvalan, Scottish and French poet and scholar, has assumed the position of co-director at the University of Auckland's Centre for Arts and Social Transformation.

The University of Auckland's Centre for Arts and Social Transformation (CAST), committed to supporting equity through the arts, is pleased to welcome Professor Selina Tusitala Marsh join as co-director at Waipapa Taumata Rau.

Professor Marsh, an expert in Pacific literature and creative writing within the Faculty of Arts, where she holds a position in English and Drama, is set to collaborate with director Professor Peter O'Connor in leading the Centre.

The centre aims to addres concerns such as homelessness, post-disaster recovery, school disengagement, and youth mental health.

Accepting the co-directorship at CAST holds special significance for Professor Marsh, as it aligns seamlessly with her community-based critical and creative contributions over the years.

She looks forward to extending the centre's reach, especially within Pacific and diasporic communities.

"I'm thrilled to be able to bring my background in the humanities, English literature and performance poetry into creative synergy with CAST and the Faculty of Education and Social Work to enrich our world," she said.

Professor O'Connor is also delighted with the appointment and notees Professor Marsh's new role is a major milestone for the centre.

"Selina began working with the centre nearly four years ago when we started our work with the Sir John Kirwan Foundation in primary schools, using the arts to teach about mental health," he said.

"We are expanding our work nationally and internationally and having Selina help lead that growth will be fantastic."

"Like most of us in the centre, Selina is an artist*academic who uses the power of her art and research to bring about social transformation."

In addition to ongoing research initiatives, including the expansion of Te Rito Toi resources to encompass early childhood, CAST's plans for the year involve hosting the International Teaching Artist Collaborative Conference, where they anticipate over 250 teaching artists will participate.

Formerly the New Zealand Poet Laureate from 2017 to 2019, Professor Marsh's poetry collection, Tightrope, achieved recognition by earning a place on the longlist for the Ockham New Zealand Book Award for Best Book of Poetry.

In the 2019 New Year's Honours, Professor Marsh was appointed an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit in acknowledgment of her contributions to poetry, literature, and the Pacific community.

Furthermore, she was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand.

Securing its future for an additional five years, CAST has received a substantial commitment from the Chartwell Trust.

This pledge, mirroring a previous donation in 2019, reaffirms the trust's role as the principal and founding donor of the centre.

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