Epeli Hau’ofa is still

alive and he’s healthy

without anything

afflicting his front

or his rear


His Oceanic imaginary

has expanded beyond

even his own expectations

and he would have invited

Between Wind & Water

to be exhibited at his Centre

and given you all a residency

so that the over one hundred

students enrolled in Jacki Leota’s

UU204 course this summer

could hear you all speak and

be provoked to ask you questions

and ask themselves questions

about what their ideal Pacific

looks like


(This is very important

because the majority of those

students are Indo-Fijian and

will be thinking about themselves

as Pacific for the first time

in their lives

and the majority of them

are studying business and

accounting and will be thinking

about how to make the Pacific

and the world a better place

for everyone

instead of just for themselves)


In my ideal Pacific

this exhibition and residency

would have been held in March

when our VUW students are back

and I could have encouraged

my PASI 101 students to focus

one of their assignments on it


But in my ideal Pacific

my Pacific Studies students

would be more like the

PNG Studies and Business Studies

students and graduates

I met at Divine Word University

In Madang, Papua New Guinea

last year

who get their degrees

not so they can get jobs

in air-conditioned offices

and drive air-conditioned cars

but so that they can walk barefoot

from village to village

finding out what people’s needs are

and helping them find alternatives

to mining, deforestation

and commercial over-fishing

in their region


In my ideal Pacific

Business Studies students

go on to do masters degrees in

Public Health like

the late Darlene Keju

from the Marshall Islands

and realize the crucial importance

of the art in empowering

young Pacific people to

have positive attitudes

towards their bodies

and their sexuality

and their environment

so they would be able to

live off their land

and the sea around them

and could participate in

the wider world’s economics

on their own terms


In my ideal Pacific

my ancestral island of Banaba

or Ocean Island in the central

Pacific would not have been

mined into a moonscape oblivion

by the British Phosphate Company


But if that never happened

New Zealand would not have

become quite such the land

of milk and honey that it did

and we all probably wouldn’t

be sitting here today

because I’d be surprised

if our sitting here today

was ever part of the dreaming

of the tangata whenua

who lived here prior to

the arrival of The Tory in 1839

or the iwi who even

preceded them


In my ideal Pacific

things wouldn’t be

perfect

but everyone would learn

deeply from their mistakes

like the sharks that WWF

has tracked diving to depths

of 1000 metres or more

on their journeys

around the Pacific


This text was included in the Between Wind and Water Summer Residency (2015) publication. It was Teresia Teaiwa’s contribution to the BWAW Futures Forum on Saturday 24 January, 2015.

Posted today, on the day we lost Teresia, because her words are gifts and my heart is heavy.

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