Dr Benita Kumar Simati

Doctor of Philosophy

Dr Benita Simati

Benita Sharon Simati Kumar, of Samoan and Fijian-Indian descent, conducted her postgraduate research on blended backgrounds.

With a background in spatial design, she graduated with a Master of Art and Design (First Class) in July 2012. She explored the potential of Vā: an investigation of how ‘Ie Tōga activate the spatial relationships of the Vā, for a Samoan diaspora community.

"I have Samoan and Fijian-Indian heritage, so for me it was interesting as a spatial designer to look at the diasporic community: people who have come to New Zealand from the islands to prosper," says Benita.

Benita competed a PhD in 2016 with AUT's Te Ara Poutama, focusing on Pacific communities and identities: How does the next generation of pacific diaspora from blended backgrounds construct and maintain their identities through the spaces they inhabit?

Benita looked at how people of ‘blended ethnicities’ construct and maintain identities in the diaspora.

She asked, what do their identities look like? And from this, what design concepts present themselves?

Benita's identity drives her research. As well as the idea of creating research that hasn't been conducted before.

"I want to be able to say that I have contributed to my community and to something I'm passionate about," she says.

“I'm always forced to question how I can contribute my skills to sustaining indigenous knowledge."

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