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Davis, Karen

Karen Davis is a linguist with a PhD from the University of Auckland, New Zealand. She did research in the Western Solomons in 1987-88 and 1990 on the languages of Hoava and Kusaghe, living in the village of Tamaneke. Her PhD thesis is a grammar of the Hoava language, and she has also produced a collection of custom stories in Hoava. Her work on language and oral traditions is a valuable resource for the Western Solomons in terms of cultural heritage and education. Karen Davis speaks the Hoava language.

Independent, New Zealand
Linguistics: Hoava language, North New Georgia

Current affiliation, academic qualifications and contact details

Karen Davis is currently working for Kotare Research and education for Social change in Aotearoa (see www.kotare.org.nz), a community development / community education centre based on popular education methodologies; and as information Officer with the Sustainable Business Network (www.sustainable.org.nz). 

Solomon Islands research was done while she was at University of Auckland. Completed PhD Linguistics.

Contact: kdavis@ihug.co.nz; 115 Glendale Road, Glen Eden, Waitakere City,
Aotearoa/New Zealand; 64 9 813 4101; mobile 6421 178 3950


My PhD thesis (a Grammar of the Hoava language) was based on two periods of
fieldwork in Solomon Islands, around 6 months in Tamaneke, New Georgia in 1987-1988 and a further three months in 1990, half in Tamaneke and half in Paradise. I recorded the grammar, core vocabulary and a number of stories and oral histories in Hoava, and some additional material in the closely related Kusaghe language.

With the help of the Cultural Affairs Office of Western province, I produced a Children’s story book in Hoava and English, to provide local schoolchildren with reading material in their own language.

I think my research has minimal use for the problems the Western Solomons face.  I do not address the issues of multinational exploitation of the natural resources, the unscrupulous practices of the overseas owned logging or fishing companies.  In Tamaneke, I saw the strength of a group of people owning and controlling their own land and resources and working within the Marovo Lagoon Resource Management Project to maintain and record their knowledge of their environment.  My own contribution to this was very small, but I hope I helped affirm the value of the Hoava traditions and their language. Positive development will be made more effective by acknowledging and enabling the recognition of local wisdom, of both men and women.

Key publications/reports/ materials

Davis, Karen (2003) A grammar of the Hoava language, Western Solomons. Canberra : Pacific Linguistics, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, Australian National University. xvi + 332 pp

Davis, Karen (1991) Vivinei Ruruhu pa Hoava / Custom Stories from Hoava. Collected and translated by Karen Davis. Gizo: Western Province Government, Cultural Affairs Office. 57p.

Davis, Karen (n.d.) Hoava-English Dictionary


Western Solomons
Updated 7 April, 2011