Posts filed under ‘News’

Tata Crocombe at Festschrift

Tata Crocombe

Tata Crocombe delivered a paper from Dr. Te’o I. J Fairbairn (University of Newcastle) on New Guinea’s First Development Plan in 1968.


September 6, 2010 at 5:19 pm Leave a comment

Academic papers honour Crocombe

Fri 13 Aug

Participants at Festschrift for Ron Crocombe

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.

Rachel Reeves

August 31, 2010 at 10:40 pm Leave a comment

Remembering a remarkable man


Portrait of Ron Crocombe by Dominic Crocombe, unveiled at the conference.

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.

Martin Tiffany

August 31, 2010 at 2:53 am Leave a comment

Conference honours Ron Crocombe

Festschrift for Ron Crocombe (1929-2009)
University of the South Pacic, Rarotonga, Cook Islands
12 – 13 August 2010

An extraordinary group of distinguished scholars will gather on Rarotonga to celebrate the life and achievements of one of the founding fathers of Pacific scholarship, known fondly to all as Papa Ron.

In a testament to the many lives Ron Crocombe has touched, speakers will travel from New Zealand, Australia, Fiji, Hawai’i, Vanuatu, Kiribati, Papua New Guinea and Japan to present papers on a wide range of topics, from land tenure and development to politics, geography, biology, health, media, filmmaking and publishing.

Writer, artist and Emeritus Professor Albert Wendt will give the keynote address from a personal perspective, looking at how Ron’s research, writing, and teaching helped shape and develop the entire eld of Pacic Studies and influenced generations of Paseka scholars, researchers, teachers, historians and artists.

Speakers include:

  • Dr. Linda Crowl – Divine Word University, Papua New Guinea
  • Professor Peggy Fairbairn-Dunlop – Foundation Professor of Pacic Studies, Auckland University of Technology
  • Professor Vilsoni Hereniko – Director of Pacic Studies & Oceania Art Centre, University of the South Pacific (USP), Fiji
  • Neti Tamarua Herman – University of Auckland
  • Dr. Elise Huffer – Human Development Programme Advisor, Secretariat of the Pacific Community, Fiji
  • Professor Jon Tikivanotau Jonassen – Brigham Young University, Laie, Hawaii
  • Dr. Kei Kawai – University of Kagoshima, Japan
  • Professor Brij Lal – Australian National University
  • Professor Hugh Laracy – University of Auckland
  • Dr. Peter Larmour – Australian National University
  • Dr. Ueantabo McKenzie – Campus Director, USP, Kiribati
  • Professor Hiroshi Moriwaki – University of Kagoshima, Japan
  • Dr. Doug Munro – Victoria University, Wellington
  • Dr. Howard Van Trease – Honorary Research Fellow, USP, Emalus Campus, Vanuatu

Local presenters include:

  • Hon. Jim Marurai, Prime Minister of the Cook Islands
  • Ross Holmes – Lawyer
  • Hon. Wilkie Rasmussen – Minister of Finance, Cook Islands Government
  • Iaveta Short – Lawyer and Businessman
  • Makiuti Tongia, Cook Islands Research Association
  • Lisa Williams-Lahari – Coordinator, International Federation of Journalists, Cook Islands

The event will also include a Pacic Artists and Writers Forum and a personal remembrance, “The Other Side of Ron,” from the Crocombe family. A book will be published to honour his many achievements.

Download the conference programme and handbook here:



July 31, 2010 at 5:41 am Leave a comment

RIP Papa Ron

Papa Ron

1929 – 2009

Ron Crocombe and I ran this blog together for 16 months. It was one of many projects he pushed in his indefatigable quest to promote Pacific scholarship and Pacific voices. He was a tireless multi-tasker who collaborated with colleagues around the globe, often without fanfare or recognition.

I volunteered my services after the first conference of the Cook Islands Research Association in February 2008, an organization founded by “Papa Ron” and a team of scholars to promote research and dialogue about our homeland.

The conference was a great success. People came from around the Pacific to present fascinating papers on critical issues like land rights, fish poisoning and nuclear exposure. A swarm of new members and distinguished patrons signed up, swelling CIRA’s nascent coffers. There was lots of local and regional media coverage.

It was a special event for my father, Dr. Joe Williams, and me. Ron and Marjorie asked us both to present papers, and they invited Dad to deliver the keynote speech on his pioneering research in tropical medicine during the early days of Cook Islands independence.

I’ve known the Crocombe family since childhood. We grew up with their kids and read all their books. Ron and Marjie are the father and mother of Pacific scholarship, always encouraging the pursuit of knowledge and ideas, generating screeds of books and papers on all aspects of Pacific history, society and cultures.

Ron insisted on providing a forum for Pacific stories, no matter how small or remote. As a scholar, writer, editor and educator for six decades, he mentored generations of colleagues and students. Education and status were never barriers – he encouraged everyone to speak up and have their say.

That’s what this blog is about. Ron emailed reports, updates, papers and other information that I’d edit and post. He took no credit or by-line. It was just another aspect of his extraordinary service to the nation and the world.

Ron’s message is to tell your own story, in your own words. His enormous legacy will continue to inspire all of us, and the next generation of storytellers.

Karin Williams

August 1, 2009 at 10:12 pm 1 comment

Prize winners of Pacific 2050 essay competition


Cook Islands Herald
11 Feb 09

CIRA is delighted to announce the prize winners of the Pacific 2050 essay competition held to promote the theme of their February conference of the same title.

There were five prizes and the winners in order of merit were James Beer, Makiuti Tongia, Teina Bishop, Kate Ngatokorua and Mahariki Tangaroa as adjudicated by a panel of judges.

First prize of $1000 went to James Beer for his passionate advocacy of alternative energy in place of petrochemical fuel in his paper called ‘A practical energy transformation handbook for the Pacific today and tomorrow’.

Makiuti Tongia won $500 for his paper on ‘Cultural Evolution, the next 50 years’ which he jokingly announced would come in handy for his children’s trip to NZ soon.

Teina Bishop won $250 for his interpretation of ‘Cook Islands Tourism, prospects and potentials’ chaired by Aunty Vereara from CIANGO.

Kate Ngatokorua won $125 for her futuristic essay on ‘The lesson is learnt’ and speaks of ‘greed taking over the islands heart and core’ where ‘island ways had vanished’ and the ‘great divide’ began.

Mahariki also won $125 for her paper called ‘Carving out a future in contemporary visual art’ where our artists continue to travel internationally and that will ‘have inevitable impacts on creativity’ and ‘virtual reality sites via the internet are evolving’.

Other presenters included Nandi Glassie’s paper on ‘The evolution of leadership and governance in Atiu’; ‘Imported trees in Atiu – past disasters and future hopes’ by Papa Paiere Mokoroa; Jeane Matenga’s paper on ‘Developments and potentials for Cook Islands Communications’; Dr Jon Jonassen’s and his ‘Global, regional and national perspective’ on the Pacific in 2050 and Iaveta Short’s futuristic paper on ‘Hopes and Fears for the next 50 years’ .

Saturday papers included a paper on ‘Opening our ocean gateway prospects for the future’; ‘Possible, probable and preferred futures’ for the Cook Islands by Petero Okotai; and ‘Coke and coconut trees aka Enhancing the spirit of enterpise’ by Dr Ngamau Tou.

The panel of judges were impressed about the calibre and variety of works presented for judging adding that some of the Saturday presentations may have won a prize except the writers had not provided advance copies.

CIRA president Angie Tuara thanked all those who presented papers and noted some papers were not submitted in the essay competition in the adult category at the request of the writers.

Meitaki maata to Tata Crocombe for sponsoring the essay competitions, which has now been extended to the end of 2009 for the school students’ category.

February 24, 2009 at 3:57 am Leave a comment

Economic forum looks at key priorities


Cook Islands News
Sat 07 Feb 2009

The Cook Islands Research Association’s economic crisis forum resulted in several common suggestions for priority actions for the country.

The association says overall the forum identified the need for a larger collaborative team involving the private sector and government to work together on the details of the stimulus package for 2009/2010 budget.

The forum included opinion from the private sector including the tourism industry, retail industry, and from the chamber of commerce, government, the opposition party, banks, and economists.

Key priorities for a stimulus package from government which these sectors identified at the forum were headed by the call for extra tourism promotion.

Other suggested priorities were investment in infrastructure (using local contractors), tax cuts, increased foreign investment, lower interest rates from banks (and maybe soft loans), and investment in primary industry (such as agriculture) especially in the outer islands.

Tourism marketing in the longer haul higher yield markets and the need for extra flights and carriers for the US, Europe and Australian markets was highlighted at the forum.

Many of those who spoke at the forum suggested that efforts need to be made to reduce the cost of telecommunications. The main calls are for government to allow competition for Telecom Cook Islands, to improve regulation and negotiate with TCI to improve services and keep prices down.

Finance minister Sir Terepai Maoate told the forum government wants to hear what advice there is to help grow the economy and weather an economic crisis.

February 13, 2009 at 9:28 pm 1 comment

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