Archive for August, 2010
Professor Vilsoni Hereniko delivered a paper on cultural translation and contemporary filmmaking in Oceania at the Festschrift for Ron Crocombe, August 12-13 in Rarotonga.
Professor Hereniko is Director of the Oceania Centre for Arts, Culture and Pacific Studies at the University of the South Pacific in Suva, Fiji.
The session was chaired by Emeritus Professor Albert Wendt of the University of Auckland.
COOK ISLANDS NEWS
Fri 13 Aug
A number of academics presented their papers in honour of the late Professor Ron Crocombe at a festschrift yesterday.
Professor Peter Larmour of Australian National University talked about Crocombe’s research into the problem of corruption throughout the Pacific. “Ron was a pioneer in the study of corruption in the region, and he paid increasing attention to it in his writing,” the paper reads. The paper explores Crocombe’s argument that Pacific leaders are under increasing pressure from Asian countries, and that the future of their countries will depend on their integrity as people.
Instead of selling out or giving over to corruption, governments have a choice – to save their countries or to save themselves. Crocombe said that ethics shouldn’t be about rules and consequences but about virtue – the integrity of ‘quality’ individuals. “Virtue ethics may be particularly relevant to leaders, who are in a position to make their own rules, and may not have to suffer the consequences of their corrupt behaviour,” Larmour’s paper reads.
Professor Peggy Fairbairn-Dunlop of AUT shared her research, which makes a link between Pacific students in New Zealand joining Poly clubs and their success in school. She concluded that membership in Pacific clubs “built youth sense of self-esteem, identity and belonging” and positively influenced students’ marks in school. The paper is relevant given that by 2021, the Pacific population is expected to form 9 per cent of New Zealand’s total population.
Of particular interest to local scholars was Professor Hiroshi Moriwaki’s talk on the geology of Rarotonga. Moriwaki collaborated with Gerald McCormack of the local organisation Natural Heritage Trust, local George Cowan and Paul Maoate of the ministry of infrastructure and planning and Toshiro Nagasako and Mitsuru Okuno of Fukuoka University, Kei Kawai of Kagoshima University, to do his research.
To those who are not familiar with geological terminology, the paper is a bit daunting, but it makes some interesting points. Since 4000 BP, the southern shoreline has been advancing seaward, but in Matavera and Tupapa, the shoreline has remained nearly the same, probably due to blockage by certain limestone ridges. Beach ridge plains are higher on the eastern coasts because when the reefs vary, so too does wave movement, and wave movement determines sand distribution.
A number of other scholars and writers presented their papers and research yesterday, and more will do so today, the final day of the conference.
COOK ISLANDS NEWS
FRI 13 AUG
Once in a while remarkable people walk into our lives and they never leave – even when they die. Those were the words of Pacific author and academic Professor Albert Wendt talking at yesterday’s festschrift for Professor Ron Crocombe.
Wendt first got to know Papa Ron, as he was fondly known, and his wife Marjorie in the early 1970s when they convinced him to move from Samoa to the University of the South Pacific’s Laucala Bay campus in Suva in 1973. He said looking back it was one of the best moves he and his family ever made and he will be forever grateful to the Crocombes.
Wendt was a keynote speaker at the two-day ‘Conference for Festschrift for Ron Crocombe’ which began at the USP, Rarotonga yesterday. The gathering is to celebrate the life of the well-respected academic who championed the Pacific and Pacific academics. The gathering was attended by around 100 colleagues, friends and families.
In academia, a festschrift is a book honouring a respected person, especially an academic. Wendt said many academics had voyaged on the Crocombe vaka and while some wanted to “jump ship” because the captain was too demanding, those on the journey gained immensely.
Papa Ron’s son Tata said his father always loved such Pacific gatherings as the festschrift but would have never accepted the invitation if he had known it was about him. “He would probably be waving placards outside in protest,” he said as the audience smiled and nodded in agreement.
Attendees were yesterday welcomed into the festschrift with a traditional turou before a hymn and a prayer began proceedings.
Papa Ron died last year in Auckland on his way back home to Rarotonga after a trip to Tonga. Makiuti Tongia, the president of the Cook Islands Research Association, said the wind and rain on Wednesday night indicated Papa Ron’s presence at the gathering.
Prime Minister Jim Marurai, who welcomed guests, said Papa Ron had made “an enormous impact on us all”. Marurai said Papa Ron was a man who held up a mirror so people could see and learn about themselves, even if that image was harsh. “He was one of our favourite sons,” Marurai said.
The conference for the late Prof Crocombe, an Emeritus Professor of Pacific Studies, continues today and will feature a number of papers presented by people who had worked with him or whose lives he had touched as well as tributes and personal recollections from his family.
A portrait of Papa Ron by Dominic Crocombe was also unveiled at the conference yesterday.
The memories to be shared at the conference go back to the early days in Papua New Guinea, his time at the Australian National University, and his time at the USP in Fiji, but also include some more recent recollections from two Japanese academics who worked with Prof. Crocombe on surveying the Holocene geomorphic development of Rarotonga. Or most simply put, determining how old Rarotonga is.
Prof. Crocombe has been described as many things a great scholar, historian, commentator and distinguished academic. But, perhaps more than that, he will always be remembered as someone who recognised the potential in everyone regardless of their station in life.