Epeli Hau’ofa was a wonderful man. His comedy contained profound insights of not only Tongan and Pacific life but for people worldwide. Let us mourn your passing but also celebrate in your indomitable style, the incredible life you had and the inspiration you were to many. Our sincerest condolences to all in Fiji and the world who were touched by his wisdom, love and humour, most particularly to his wife, Barbara Hau’ofa.
From: firstname.lastname@example.org [mailto:email@example.com] On
Behalf Of All-Staff/All-Student Email Distribution
Sent: Tuesday, January 13, 2009 11:58 AM
To: All USP Staff; All USP Students
Subject: From the Office of the Vice-Chancellor
PROFESSOR EPELI HAU’OFA (1939 – 2009)
It is with deep regret that I inform the University community of the death
of Professor Epeli Hau’ofa.
Professor Hau’ofa passed away on Sunday 11 January 2009 at the Suva Private
Hospital. We thank those who generously responded to the appeal for blood
Professor Hau’ofa joined USP in 1975 as a Fellow in the Centre for Applied
Studies in Development, prior to serving as Deputy Private Secretary to the
late King of Tonga, His Majesty Taufa’ahau Tupou IV between 1978 and 1981.
In 1981, he rejoined USP as Director of the Rural Development Centre in
Tonga, before he became Reader and Head of Sociology, Professor in Sociology
and eventually the founding Director of the Oceania Centre for Arts and
Culture (OCAC) – a post that he held until his untimely passing.
Apart from his long and illustrious career here at USP, Professor Hau’ofa
will also be remembered for a number of publications that made him an
insightful and sometimes irreverent but respectful critic. Who can forget
the delightfully hilarious but perceptive “Tales of the Tikongs” and “Kisses
in the Nederends”?
Professor Hau’ofa often referred to his later writings as “Project New
Oceania”. The establishment of OCAC in the early 1990’s is a testament to
the enthusiasm and commitment with which Professor Hau’ofa pursued and
explored a distinctive vision for inclusiveness in the region. His writings
in this period established an alternative paradigm with which to define “our
sea of islands” and this will continue to be a beacon for the multitudes
who, in one way or another, are connected by it.
As we reflect on Professor Hau’ofa’s immense and rich contributions to the
University and the region that we serve, his words, such as the following
quotation from his essay “We are the Ocean”, will continue to remind us of
our obligations to make Oceania a place where ALL our future generations can
continue to call home:
“.. I would like to make one point briefly. The issue of what or who is a
Pacific Islander would not arise if we considered Oceania as comprising
people – as human beings with a common heritage and commitment – rather than
as members of diverse nationalities and races. Ocean refers to a world of
people connected to each other. The term Pacific Islands Region refers to an
official world of states and nationalities. John and Mary cannot just be
Pacific Islanders; they have to be Ni-Vanuatu, or Tuvaluan, or Samoan first.
As far as I am concerned, anyone who has lived in our region and is
committed to oceania is an Oceanian. This view opens up the possibility of
expanding Oceania progressively to cover larger areas and more peoples than
is possible under the term Pacific Islands Region. In this formulation, the
concepts Pacific Islands Region and Pacific Islanders are as redundant as
South Seas and South Sea Islanders. We have to search for appropriate names
for common identifies that are more accommodating, inclusive, and flexible
than what we have today.”
(Professor Epeli Hau’ofa “The Ocean in Us”)
At this time of sadness, the University community extends its deepest
sympathy to Mrs Barbara Hau’ofa and their family and friends.
A funeral service will be held at the Oceania Centre for Arts and Culture
this Thursday 15 January 2009 at 9.30am before the cortege proceeds at
10.30am to a private burial.
Dr Esther Batiri Williams
Office of the Vice-Chancellor