- The New Oceania: A Selected Bibliography
This selection of essays, addresses, and related material by Albert Wendt concentrates on the major themes associated with the new Oceania, an enormously influential concept most fully developed in the 1976 essay “Towards a New Oceania”(hereafter “New Oceania”). Aspects of that essay are further discussed in my article “A Search for the New Oceania” in this issue of The Contemporary Pacific. A full Wendt bibliography to January 2003 by Paul Sharrad and Karen M Peacock, to which I am indebted, appeared in The Contemporary Pacific 15:378–420. A small number of my identifications of editions differ from those of Sharrad and Peacock.
1974 Inside “Outsider” Wendt. New Zealand Book World [Wellington] 8 (February/March): 6–8.
The “teaser” line for this article reads: “All his writing evolves out of a position as a ‘mongrel’ of two cultures.” Here emerge the themes of the richness of oral tradition; the influence of his storyteller grandmother, Mele Tuaopepe; his bonds with other Polynesian/Pacific artists, among whom are included Pākehā New Zealanders; the loneliness and power of being a “mongrel”; the evils of racism and the impositions of outsiders; pālagi fantasies about the Pacific that reveal more about their own hangups than about the region; the Pacific artistic renaissance with its new beginnings; and the creative writer as historian.
1975 A Sermon on National Development, Education, and the Rot in the South Pacific. In Education in Melanesia, edited by J Brammall [End Page 389] and Ronald J May, 373–380. Canberra: Research School in Pacific Studies, the Australian National University; Port Moresby: University of Papua New Guinea.
Delivered at the Eighth Waigani Seminar, held in Port Moresby from 5 to 10 May 1974, this paper contains substantial segments on education and architecture that would appear almost verbatim in “New Oceania.” Its trenchant critique of the Church and its support for organized labor, however, do not carry over to the later publication. Themes that do recur later include a critique of the preservation of culture; colonial mimicry; corruption and the betrayal of independence by elites, experts, and meddling outsiders; and educational colonization and pacification. In this paper, Wendt ascribed to his grandmother the expression “heavy body odour” to describe postindependence stagnation; this phrase reappears in “New Oceania.”
1976a Towards a New Oceania. Mana Review: A South Pacific Journal of Language and Literature 1 (1)(January): 49–60. Reprinted in Writers in East-West Encounter: New Cultural Bearings, edited by Guy Amirthanayagam, 202–215. London: Macmillan, 1982; in A Pacific Islands Collection: Cook Islands, Fiji, New Zealand, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Vanuatu, Western Samoa, edited by Richard Hamasaki. Seaweeds and Constructions 7:71–85. Printed by Elepaio Press. Honolulu: Richard Hamasaki, 1983; in Readings in Pacific Literature, edited by Paul Sharrad, 9–19. Wollongong: New Literatures Research Centre, 1993; and in The Arnold Anthology of Post-colonial Literatures in English, edited by John Thieme, 641–651, London: Edward Arnold, 1996.
Note: At page 77, line 16, Hamasaki 1983 converts the Mana phrasing “choke in its own body odour, juices, and excreta” (page 53, lines 47–48) to “choke in its own bloody odour, juices and excreta”; the other anthologies follow the wording in Mana.
The complexity of “Towards a New Oceania” does not yield easily to brief summary. However, its major themes and those appearing elsewhere include the imperative of a return to Oceania by way of the ancestors and the artists, but a return to a renewed Oceania; the vital importance of oral tradition; the “chill” of colonialism and racism and the malign influence of “whitefication”; the romantic distortions of “outsiders”; the predatory character of elites; illusory quests for tradition and authenticity, preservation [End Page 390] and purity, and revival of and return to the past; the determination of “authenticity” by usage, not appeal to tradition; the diversity and vitality of real culture and real cultures; the importance of life in the present, not the past; and the immensity and creativity of the Pacific as expressed in the artistic renaissance of the 1960s.
1976b In a Stone Castle in the South Seas. Mana Review: A South Pacific Journal...