GDIA working paper series

In 2017 the then School of Government, Development, and International Affairs (SGDIA) launched an online Working Paper Series in 2017.

In conjunction with the Weekly Seminar Series, the SGDIA Working Paper Series (SGDIA WPS) is a key component of the School’s profile both locally and internationally. It acts as a publication resource to facilitate the rapid and open-access dissemination of work by SGDIA scholars, USP faculty and other scholars and practitioners working in and on the region. The SGDIA WPS publishes topical research papers on matters pertinent to the Pacific, many of which go on to finalised publication in international peer-reviewed journals.

The SGDIA Working Paper Series includes:

  • shorter ‘briefs’ (may be as short as 2-3 pages).

Working Papers and briefs will be considered by the School Editorial Committee.

SGDIA WPS publications can be downloaded from the list located on this webpage.

Editorial Committee:

Assoc. Prof. Sandra Tarte:

Dr. Wesley Morgan:

Dr. Andreea R. Torre:

If you would like to submit a working paper or a brief for consideration, please contact the editorial committee.

Copyright remains with the authors.

Working Papers

Working Paper Number 1:

The Fijian Ethos and Dawasamu Miraculous Healing Water: A study of Delakado and Natadradave Villagers’Response to God’s Gift

Authors: Vasemaca Lutu, Vijay Naidu and Kesaia Seniloli


In the immediate aftermath of the extremely destructive Tropical Cyclone Winston, miraculous healing water was discovered flowing on land belonging to Naboro mataqali in close proximity to Natadradave and Delakado villages in Dawasamu, Tailevu.  This discovery led to the arrival of thousands of people from all over Fiji and beyond at a time when the villagers of Dawasamu, Tailevu were themselves recovering from the catastrophic cyclone. A year on, visitors albeit in smaller numbers continue to bath in, drink and take away the healing water. The working paper reports on the research project and its findings on why the indigenous Fijian villagers (peasants) eschewed the unique opportunity for windfall cash income from the sale of the miracle water at a time of unprecedented hardship. This too, in the context of a lucrative bottled water industry in the country.

Working Paper Number 2:

Rethinking constitutional reform in the Pacific: What can we learn from the Indonesian experience?

Author: Paul J. Carnegie


There is a distinct difference between proposing new constitutional frameworks and the process of establishing those frameworks. The latter involves forms of renegotiation with varying legacies of the past in any particular setting. This makes transforming proposed reforms into meaningful practice that can sustain over time less than straightforward. In fact, the outcomes of reform processes are often ambiguous mixtures of trade-off and compromise. By anatomizing the constitutional reform process that occurred in Indonesia from 1999-2002, the following paper identifies potential challenges Pacific Island Countries (PICs) face along what are invariably fraught and uncertain paths. Yet, the comparative insight from Indonesia suggests that a gradualist approach to constitution-making that takes advantage of opportunity, timing and momentum can provide a path to accepted constitutional reform.

Working Paper Number 10:

Winds of Change: Pacific Islands and the Shifting Balance of Power in the Pacific Ocean

Author: Wesley Morgan


As China becomes more powerful, it is challenging American regional military predominance in Asia, but also in the western Pacific and increasingly in the Indian Ocean. In response to this challenge, the US and its allies are investing in ‘offshore balancing’ strategies, which entail greater security cooperation amongst maritime democracies in both the Indian and Pacific Oceans. As a corollary to these strategies, new mental maps of the region have been drawn up. Increasingly, America and its allies are replacing the concept of Asia-Pacific with that of the Indo-Pacific. More than a simple change in nomenclature, this shift is part of an intensifying ‘hearts and minds’ contest for influence, the likes of which has not been seen since the end of the Cold War. This paper is concerned with the implications of this shift in strategic thinking for Pacific island states.

Working Paper Number 11:

Assessing Indonesian Diplomacy in the Pacific Islands

Author: Abitara Takinana


This paper considers Indonesia’s role in Pacific regional politics. During the last decade, Indonesia has intensified engagement with the South Pacific countries. Indonesia’s integration into regional and sub-regional groupings in the Pacific has enabled the country to manoeuvre within the region and to exert political influence on a growing number of South Pacific countries. Some Pacific leaders consider Indonesia as a ‘new friend’, a term used to label nontraditional partners that have a minor role and stay for a short-term in the Pacific region (Maclellan, 2015). However, Indonesia’s partnerships with South Pacific countries could change its role to a greater one in the Pacific region in future.

Working Paper Number 13:

Australia’s Pacific ‘Step-Up’: A Legitimate Engagement?

Author: Oliver Lilford


Since the 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper (FPWP), a new set of discursive frames have emerged from within the Australian government and mainstream media regarding Australia’s relationship with Oceania. Catapulted into prominence by sensationalised fears of a proposed Chinese naval base in the Pacific, such framings have manifested themselves in a growing body of high-profile public commentary and government rhetoric on the importance of a ‘step-up’ in Australia’s engagement with Pacific island states. Emerging from think tanks, academic blogs and opinion pieces, the mainstream media, and ministerial addresses, this growing discussion of Australia’s place in the Pacific is dominated by iterative articulations of the need for, and importance of, a renewed commitment to the region. Striking in its homogeneity, this ‘step-up’ discourse constructs a series of ideas about Australia and the Pacific to sell a (supposedly) new approach to engaging with the region, ideas that also establish the need for a specific set of actions.

Working Paper Number 14

Reconciling Regional Security Narratives in the South Pacific

Author: Sandra Tarte


The emergence of China as a regional power in the South Pacific has led to a new era of geopolitical rivalry in the region, with the US, Australia, Japan and New Zealand, among others, launching major policy initiatives for the Pacific islands. The security narrative that underpinned this enhanced engagement reflected a traditional geo-strategic view of security. These shifts in regional geopolitics coincided with the emergence of a more assertive, independent and innovative diplomacy by Pacific island states. This paradigm shift in Pacific diplomacy positioned the region to advance a quite different regional security narrative focused on climate change. The aim of this article is to explore areas of convergence and divergence in these contending security narratives. It asks whether, within the context of a contested regional order, there is potential for Pacific island states to leverage the security interests of major external powers to drive their own security agenda. While focusing on the area of climate security, the analysis draws on past examples of security cooperation that ‘succeeded’ despite divergent security perspectives of the major players.

In Briefs

Working Paper Number 3:

From Locally Managed Marine Areas to Indigenous and Community Conserved Oceans

Author: Hugh Govan

Working Paper Number 4:

The Rotuma Bill No. 6 of 2015: What is at stake for Rotuma?

Authors: Lee-Anne Sackett, Romitesh Kant and Jason Titifanue

Working Paper Number 5:

Back on the map: Pacific Islands in a new era of strategic competition.

Author: Wesley Morgan

Working Paper Number 6:

Friend or Foe: Australia, Climate Change and the Pacific

Author: Simon Bradshaw

Working Paper Number 7:

Citizen Journalism, Social Media & the Media in Fiji

Authors: Eliki Drugunalevu and Jope Tarai

Working Paper Number 8:

Perceptions of Women’s Representation in Pacific Parliaments: The case of Niue

Author: Esther Pavihi

Working Paper Number 9:

The Rush for Oceania: Critical Perspectives on Contemporary Oceans Governance and Stewardship

Author: Reclaiming Oceania Collective

Working Paper Number 12

The Social and Political Effects of Tropical Cyclone Winston in Fiji: Recent Research Perspectives

Author: John Cox

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