A Pacific Studies lecturer says an award for teaching excellence will boost the subject's academic credibility.
Teresia Teaiwa, from Victoria University in Wellington, has received an Ako Aotearoa award from the New Zealand Government for her work in developing the world's first Pacific Studies undergraduate major.
Dr Teaiwa says she still meets people who need to be convinced about the value of Pacific Studies.
"When I first started here I got really strong vibes that people thought, 'this won't be academically rigorous', and students even come in and say 'I thought this was going to be an easy pass'."
Teresia Teaiwa says she uses Pacific concepts such as Akamai to change opinions about the intellectual aspect of subjects such as art and dance.
Dr Teaiwa is the second Pasifika recipient of the award since it started in 2002.