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Title: Obituary: Epeli Hau'ofa (1939-2009)
Contributor(s): Ryan, John S  (author)
Publication Date: 2009
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Abstract: In January of this year there died in Suva Professor Hau'ofa, a fine scholar, and the South Pacific's most attractive and distinguished intellectual and creative thinker of his generation. For he has been deemed to be worthy to rank alongside earlier towering figures of great vision respected around the Pacific littoral, like Sir Peter Buck, from New Zealand, or Sir Thomas Davis, of Raratonga, the amazing sailor-doctor and worker in space research medicine and ambassador extraordinary, he later to become the Pacific Islander of the Century. The late Epeli Hau'ofa, a Tongan, was born to missionary parents then working in Papua New Guinea, where he would - early on in his career - do some powerful research on the impact of sudden 'civilization' on a peaceful, and hitherto very isolated, coastal village. Career-establishing further research took place, as well as in Fiji, in Australia and Canada - the latter training involving a thesis with field work in the Caribbean. And he would also do significant research work in Tonga, where he was for a brief period the 'Keeper of Palace Records', a task which fitted well with his fascination with all the Pacific's traditional lore. Yet, arguably, Australia - and his Australian-born wife, Barbara and research companion - also contributed much to his temper, from his time in residence in the University of New England, and his early studies there in English literature, as well as in the University's History Department near Russel Ward who was also a mentor in the College to which both belonged. After various duties in both historical and contemporary studies in Tonga he would join the University of the South Pacific, to serve first as a teacher, and then as Head of the Department of Sociology, Head of the School of Social and Economic Development, and Professor of Social Anthropology. And he would plan for cultural emancipation for the peoples of the great Ocean, and so see the fledgling institution spread out to embrace the Cook Islands, Fiji, the Marshall Islands, Nauru, Nieue, the Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Vanuatu and Samoa. Meanwhile, in 1997, he would found the Oceania Centre for Arts and Culture, heading it for the rest of his life, as well as developing ever-closer ties with the Center for Pacific Islands Studies at the University of Hawai'i, and the East-West Center there.
Publication Type: Journal Article
Source of Publication: Australian Folklore, v.24, p. 5-10
Publisher: Australian Folklore Association
Place of Publication: University of New England, Australia
ISSN: 0819-0852
Field of Research (FOR): 199999 Studies in Creative Arts and Writing not elsewhere classified
200505 New Zealand Literature (excl Maori Literature)
200507 Pacific Literature
Socio-Economic Outcome Codes: 950303 Conserving Collections and Movable Cultural Heritage
950599 Understanding Past Societies not elsewhere classified
950306 Conserving Pacific Peoples Heritage
HERDC Category Description: C4 Letter of Note
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