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Ryan JS. Epeli Hau'ofa's Polynesian Human Comedy. 1990.
Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://e-publications.une.edu.au/1959.11/11131
Epeli Hau'ofa's Polynesian Human Comedy
"All my fiction writing is very serious; the [surface] humour is there lest my anger at the tragedy should make me go mad." --Epeli Hau'ofa. Epeli Hau'ofa is by stock a Tongan, although born (1939) in Papua New Guinea to missionary parents. He told the present writer long ago that, as a little boy, he had had laid on him by his Queen a certain task of commitment and of concern for his people. Despite a career of study and work which has taken him to Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the Caribbean and elsewhere, he has remained true to that charge, even if his range of stewardship has included Fiji, Samoa, and the general life-style of island Polynesia. He attended high school in Armidale, New South Wales, where he studied much history and geography, and his B.A. at the University of New England (1961-63) included double majors in history and a minor sequence in English. This was followed by an Honours year (1964) with a dissertation entitled: "The Australian Pacific Islands Policy, 1901-1919: from a strategic point of view." Hau'ofa's research Master's at McGill University (1965-68) involved a thesis concerned with Trinidad and Tobago entitled "Channels of Communications between Rural Communities and the Agencies of the National Government." He spent 1968 to 1970 as Senior Tutor, Department of Anthropology, University of Papua and New Guinea, while also doing the field work for his Ph.D. for the Australian National University. The thesis was concerned with the impact of 'civilization' on a hitherto isolated community to the near west of Port Moresby, to which it was being connected by road. Its book version (A.N.U. Press, 1981) is entitled, 'Mekeo: Inequality and Ambivalence in a Village Society'. Meanwhile he had published in 1977 Our Crowded Islands (Suva: Institute of Pacific Studies, University of the South Pacific) while he was a Fellow at that University, at the Centre for Applied Studies in Development. He was living in Tonga from 1977 to 1983, first as Deputy Private Secretary to the King, and men (1980-83) as the (Tongan) Rural Development Centre Director for the U.S.P. In 1979 he had published - again through the A.N.U. - 'Corned Beef and Tapioca: Food Distributions Systems in Tonga'. Meanwhile he had maintained a steady stream of publications, both learned articles and essays in collections, as well as creative writing.