Oceania Centre for Arts, Culture and Pacific Studies


Field work on Abaiang Atoll, Kiribati

In January and February of this year (2017), Strategic Research Theme team Leader, Dr. Frank Thomas (Pacific Studies, OCACPS) conducted fieldwork on Abaiang Atoll, Kiribati, along with Dr. Michelle McKeown and Dr. Eleanor John (School of Geography, Earth Science and Environment, FSTE) and Professor Stephen Gale (Department of Archaeology, Sydney University). The project was supported by USP’s Research Office, Sydney University and, the Kiribati Ministry of Environment, Lands and Agricultural Development (MELAD).
The first phase of the project entitled ‘Sustainability Archaeology’ and Landscape Transformation on Abaiang Atoll, Republic of Kiribati resulted in the collection of data that may shed light on human-environment relationships spanning 2,000 years. A key question was whether the ancestors of contemporary I-Kiribati had settled Abaiang continuously and if so, how they had achieved sustainability in light of environmental constraints characteristic of atolls. Team members also examined the geological and environmental contexts of the atoll prior to the arrival of people. Bulk sediment cores extracted from giant swamp taro pits and a former fishpond will be examined for traces of charcoal for radiocarbon dating, and pollen profiles constructed in order to determine vegetation profiles.


The excavation pits sampled from ocean to lagoon-side contained a high proportion of benthic foraminifera shells which can be reliably used for dating the initial formation of islets suitable for the establishment of vegetation and subsequently, human settlement. The excavation pits also yielded hearth features interbedded with beach sediment at a depth of around a meter below present-day surface. The stratigraphic position of these features are indicative of some antiquity. Charcoal was collected for radiocarbon dating, together with sediment samples for plant microfossil analyses to document evidence of environmental change, including anthropogenic impact.
The research team is currently seeking external funding for laboratory work. Subsequent research findings would direct additional fieldwork on Abaiang or other atolls in Kiribati.

Dance Recital. Term 1, 2017

Social Classes for dance presented its first recital for the year. Taking the stage on the 19th of April at the Japan-Pacific ICT Theatre, children as young as 4 years old to teenagers wowed their parents on a night full of creative dances.  Later in the evening, they were accompanied by some of the mums who have also taken up dancing at the Oceania Centre.


By holding the recital at the Japan-Pacific ICT Theatre, participants got the chance to experience performing in a theatre, with professional lighting, sound and a technical crew. 

The Oceania Centre offers three terms of Social Classes in dance each year. The initiative for the program is to foster creativity, technique and progress in dance in the performing arts.

The participants at the end of each term put a recital to demonstrate their progress. This social activity encourages creativity from dance moves, placements, and timing and to costumes. Apart from the social interactions of people from different ages and lifestyles, dance has a wide range of physical and mental benefits including: improved condition of the heart and lungs, increased muscular strength, endurance and   fitness, improved muscle tone and strength, coordination and many more. 

Music Recital, Term 1, 2017

he Oceania Centre is renowned for sound and movement, and what better place to host the Music recital for term one, 2017. On the evening of the 26th April, students with their parents and guardians braved the weather to come witness those who have taken up the guitar, piano or vocals classes. 

A new comer to the Guitar Beginners Level 1 program, Losalini Cokanasiga, a student of Veiuto Primary School with her debut of “I have a Maker” , carried off stage the Most Outstanding award.


Igelese Ete, Head of Performing Arts at the Oceania Centre, praised all the students and  thanked the parents for their continuous support. In his closing remarks he stated that the music recital is the culmination of hard work, dedication and perseverance.  Students not only get to learn how to play an instrument or use their voice as an instrument, but they are also taught to read music. 

In today’s world of electronic gadgets, a space is needed for those with the passion to learn new skills in the performing arts.  Such a place exists within The Oceania Centre for Arts, Culture and Pacific Studies; a space that is created specifically for nurturing those who have a passion for the arts. As one of The University’s Strategic Plan 2013 – 2018 objectives “Create inter-cultural dialogue and interaction to foster tolerance amongst its students and support the establishment of cross-cultural societies and activities. 

When one takes up music classes, there are other benefits that come with it such as the cultivation of social skills, refinement of self-discipline and patience and boosting of self-esteem.  Music introduces children to other cultures, especially here at The University of the South which is the premier provider of tertiary education in the Pacific region.

Broadway In Fiji

Broadway in Fiji was the culmination of hard work, sweat, sore muscles, perseverance and dedication. Three US-based creative artists, Mr Chris Olsen, JD Morabito and Mr. Jeremy Lucas, specialists in producing Broadway style productions brought over by the Embassy of the United States to conduct a workshop with the Oceania Centre performing artists; Pasifika Voices and Oceania Dance Theatre. The two-week workshop focussed on excerpts from Broadway musicals hits such as Hamilton, West Side Story, A chorus Line, Oklahoma and many more favourites.

Broadway in Fiji, a once only, free show to the public, kicked off on 13th of April Thursday evening at the Japan Pacific ICT Theatre. The Charge d’Affaires of the U.S. Embassy Douglas Sonnek and Dr Bruce Yeates, Associate Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Law and Education opened the evening to a packed house. In his opening remarks, Dr. Yeates said, “This workshop will take the Oceania Centre to a new level and be a triple threat. We can dance, we can sing and now we can also act”.

Half an hour before the show started, the doors had to be closed and people were being turned away.  The audience  was regaled with a feast of sounds and dances, from solos to duets, and choir. They clapped and sang their way with the performers and showed their appreciation in a standing ovation to the performers. One member of the audience, commented at the end of the evening that her cheeks were sore from the smiling she did, as she was taken back in time.

The Oceania Dance Theatre and the Pasifika Voices can now add a  new set of skills, processes and technique forms to their repertoires. Broadway in Fiji demonstrated our local talents has what it takes.

“Celebration” An Art Exhibition

The Oceania Centre  for Arts, Culture and Pacific Studies (OCACPS) hosted its last art exhibition for the year 2016 titled  “Celebration”.  On the 17th of November, a select group of artists from within the Oceania Centre and past members of the Oceania Centre   had the opportunity to interpret the theme “Celebration”,  through their artworks using different materials and mediums; our culture, traditions and today’s society in the Oceania that we call home.   The exhibition was held at the Gallery of Oceanian Art with 17 artists participating.  Artistic creations ranged from canvas, wood  and metal sculptures and   found objects to make sculptures and mixed media artworks.

The opening was heralded by the Oceania Dance Theatre and Pasifika Voices  with a procession from the Molikilagi Bure with lit bamboo torches, performers in white as they danced and sang their way to the guests under the marquee. Guests mingled on the lawn with strategically placed lights in going with the exhibition theme “Celebration”.
Professor Derrick Armstrong, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research,   Innovation and International, on behalf of   The University of the South Pacific welcomed the chief guest, the honorable  Dr Mahendra Reddy , Minister for Education, Heritage & Arts, National Archives of Fiji and guests.

 “Our arts community is not for mere entertainment and wall beautification; it is also filled with the sense of continuity with our pasts from which we find guidance and inspiration for the future” said   Professor Armstrong in his welcoming speech

 The exhibition will remain open to the public until the 22nd December, 2016.

2016 3rd Music Recital

Make your dream a reality. The Oceania Centre has advocated this sentiment since the music programme was initiated in August of 2014 and John Vaqalo, who was registered in the Piano programme, is a testament of the hard work put into learning the instrument. John joined the OCACPS music programme last year in its term three offering with absolutely no knowledge of how to play the piano and how to read music but today, he is one of the most outstanding students that came out of the programme with acquired skills that seemed like years to learn. On 2nd November 2016, the Oceania Centre organised its third and final Music recital for the year which is a culmination of the 10 weeks music programme for the final term and John wowed family and friends present on the evening with his solo performance. He left the audience flabbergasted and in a prolonged applause.

This Term’s Music recital theme colour was “Purple” which represented the OCACPS’ solidarity for a fellow colleague who is currently battling cancer. Parents and friends turned out in numbers to support their children’s performance on the night. OCACPS is proud to offer a programme that reaches out to children and adults from different walks of life united with a common goal to pick up a rare skill through Music. There were siblings who registered for the programme and performed duets at the recital like the Punivalu kids who sang a wonderful rendition of “Let it Go” from Disney’s Animation, Frozen.

The Acting Director of the Oceania Centre for Arts, Culture and Pacific Studies, Dr. David Gegeo who was Chief Guest at the Music Recital stated: “In the pacific, music is very much  part of our culture, we sing for any occasion, from  ceremonies, to fishing, to house work, to the planting of the land. Music is about telling a story, from great events to everyday life, it is how we pass on our stories and a way of keeping language, our culture alive.  And who doesn’t love music?”  At the end of the recital performance, students were presented with the certificates of participation, certificates of completion and most outstanding award according to their instructors assessment. We would also like to acknowledge the hard work of our music instructors; Dan Fox, Mereani Takape, Vilis Nuqa, Paulini Bautani, Jane Sekikorolevu and Ani Lewaniu for their hard work over the last 10 months and we look forward to receiving the new and continuing number of students in 2017. Registrations for 2017 will open mid-January and classes will begin mid-February.

Visit by primary School

On the 4th and 10th of November, 4,5, 6 and 7 year students of Marist Brothers Primary School visited the Gallery of Oceanian art at the University of the South Pacific. About 380 students with their teachers turned up and viewed the current exhibition that is on display on “Coral bleaching in relations to Climate Change” and got the opportunity to ask questions.  Teacher, Master William Daurewa mentioned that the students were really excited to visit the art gallery as most of them had never visited one before. They left the art gallery with a better understanding of climate change.

Students also got the chance to see the Oceania Dance Theatre and Pasifika Voices during their rehearsals. They learnt that perfection only comes with constant practice and that the arts can be used as a medium for education, to bring awareness to a cause, such as climate change.

Students left the centre with a better understanding that among other things art can also be used to tell a story.
The Gallery of Oceanian Art is a space that caters to ongoing exhibitions throughout the year. The Gallery will be hosting “Celebration 2016” on the 18th of November with 17 artists exhibiting artworks using various styles and mediums. The exhibition will close on the 22nd of December.

2016 3rd Dance Recital

The Japan – Pacific Multi-Purpose Theatre opened its doors to parents and friends of the Social Dance Classes on Friday the 30th of October. The Social Dance programme hosted by the Oceania Centre for Arts, Culture and Pacific Studies is an ongoing initiative by the Dean of FALE, Dr Akanisi Kedrayate. Due to its success, the classes are offered three times a year, spanning for nine weeks with three classes per week. Classes are conducted for  youngsters in the afternoon sessions and the morning ladies Polynesian workout sessions  held twice a week. These ladies are the mothers of the students.  The Kaji Dance Class for littles ones  focus on fostering creativity and self- expression. The older students focus on basic Ballet, Modern techniques, Jazz, Hip  Hop and Pacific Contemporary.

Katalina Fotofili, the Social Dance instructor with   help from dancers of the Oceania Dance Theatre worked tirelessly to put together the programme for the evening.  During the lead  up to  the recital, both children and the ladies got into the swing of rehearsals and the making of customs at the Oceania Centre. 
Chief guest, Vice President,  Dr. Paunga  opened the evening to a full house of enthusiastic audience. This recital was the first of its kind to be held at the ICT Theatre.  This was the night that students  show cased their skills in the language of body movement and expressions. Stealing the show were the Kaji kids in their contemporary tapa tutus. From Hip hop, Ballet, to the swaying of Pacific Contemporary, the show was vibrant, and you could feel the enjoyment and satisfaction  of the performers with the audiences encouraging them all the way. A  wondrous bombshell was  when the ladies  took to the floor with an outrages Jaz number.
Dance is a fun way of getting fit, its entertaining and helps develop confidence and channel energy into creativity. Classes will resume again next year

Pacific Studies launches its 1st MOOC (Massive Open Online Course)

From August 1st to September 16th, 2016, the Oceania Centre’s Pacific Studies program launched a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course), the second of its kind at USP.  This course aimed to promote the Postgraduate Program in Pacific Studies at USP’s main campus of Laucala. The target audience was ‘international’, as our region is becoming increasingly connected to the outside world. However, there is also a need to raise awareness of the importance and unique interdisciplinary character of the program to local and regional students.

Pacific indigenous knowledge was the anchoring point to critically examine various issues pertaining to the region’s cultures and societies, past, present, and future. Of the 889 online participants, 33% successfully completed the quizzes.

This seven week free course was coordinated by Dr. Thomas (Pacific Studies, OCACPS) and included academic contributions by Dr. David Gegeo, Dr. Jara Hulkenberg (Pacific Studies), Dr. Frances Koya-Vakau’ta (SOE and FALE Associate Dean for Research and internationalization), and Dr. Shailendra Singh (SLAM).

Vanua Levu Archaeological Research

In January 2016, Dr. Frank Thomas (Pacific Studies, OCACPS) took part in an archaeological project near Bua, Vanua Levu. The research was sponsored by The University of the Sunshine Coast, Sustainability Research Centre, under the direction of Professor Patrick Nunn (who is also Adjunct Professor in Pacific Studies at USP), in cooperation with SGESE and The Fiji Museum. Various sites were investigated, including the nearby hillfort (koro ni valu) of Seseleka, 500 meters above sea level thought to have been settled about 700 years ago, and described by Europeans in the 1840s.                                                                                                          

Seseleka comprised of several built walls, ditches, guard posts, and house mounds (yavu).  Also found at the site where the remains of shellfish that had been brought up from the coast during a period marked by conflict between indigenous groups. In addition, samples of edible shellfish were collected from the banks of the Bua River, to be radiocarbon-dated and taxonomically compared with shell remains identified at Seseleka. The project also resulted in the discovery of a Lapita-era (about 3000 years ago) site on the side of the Seseleka Peninsula, at a location where the fringing coral reef is widest.

‘Vueti Viti –Together We Are Stronger’ In Aid of TC Winston Concert and Auction

As part of The University of the South Pacific’s response to the terrible disaster by Tropical Cyclone Winston  in Fiji, the Oceania Centre for Arts, Culture & Pacific Studies [OCAC-PS]  a  fundraiser, ‘Vueti Viti – Together We Are Stronger’ held at the Australia Pacific Lecture Theatre on the 9th April Tropical Cyclone Winston was a Category 5 cyclone that caused widespread destruction in every stratum of the Fiji society; from Telecommunications, Infrastructure, Education, Food Security, Homes, Businesses and very sadly, the loss of human lives.  

‘Vueti Viti –Together We Are Stronger’ was an evening of  music, dance, theatre  and  auction  to raise funds for donation towards the victims of this major national disaster.  

 The Oceania Centre with its core of performers   geared itself towards this worthy course, bringing together a multitude of local talented groups, artists, designers and support from companies.

 A of minute of silence was observed in remembrance of those that have lost their lives and to those who are trying to find the strength to move forward in this difficult time.  

Close to a hundred people were part of this event in one form or another. The event was officially opened by Dr. Giulio Paunga, Vice- President Regional Campuses and Properties and Facilities, University of the South Pacific. Mistress of Ceremony, a great supporter of the Centre, Bernadette Rounds Ganilau set the mood for the evening with her renowned wit and flair and officiated the auction for the evening. 

On the  26th April, a  cheque of $10, 265 was officially handed over by Dr Akanisi Kedrayate, Dean of the Faculty pf Arts Law and Education  to the Vice-Chancellor and President of The University of the South Pacific (USP) Professor Rajesh Chandra. 

“I can do things you cannot; you can do things I cannot. Together we can do great things” Mother Teresa

This fund raising drive would not have been possible with the continuous support of  Fiji Times, Quality Prints, Grass Skirts, Law Hill Wines and Spirits.  Performances by Pasifika Voices, Oceania Dance Theatre

Oceania Dance Academy, Accalewas, KKU, Savuto , Students from the Oceania Centre  Social Music and Dance Classes. Designer creations by, Michael Mausio, Aisea Konrote, Samson Lee, Hupfeld Hoerder, Manchester United Jerseys by Vison Motors , Engraved Jewelry by Shell Arts Fiji. Art works by, Paula Ligairua, Ben Fong, Cristina Gonzalez, Johanna Beasley, Vouchers , Enchanted Restaurant, Hair by James

Kahawa Café and our all our  friends and family of the Centre who came on board to volunteer to  the evening a success.


Samoans Raise $25,000 tala for the Children of FIJI

The Fundraiser ‘Fiji Appeal – Save the Children’ called for the goodwill spirit of people to come together and lend a helping hand to the children of Fiji. Samoa’s Kinship ties with Fiji called for a reconnection that lends a compassionate and helping hand, especially to the children of Fiji. In collaboration with Save the Children Fiji and other Goodwill partners,The University of the South Pacific (USP-POPP OCACAPS), Tanoa Tusitala Hotel, Fiji Airways and Apollo Cinemas, a Fundraiser ‘Fiji Appeal- Save The Children’ was scheduled for Monday 21st March 2016 at the Apollo Cinema, Apia.

A highlight of the program is the launching of the film ‘Moana - The rising of the sea’ - an Oceania music-dance-drama performed by members of the Oceania Centre for Arts Culture and Pacific Studies, University of the South Pacific, which draws on a regional and global pressing issue of climate change and its adverse effects on many small Pacific Island nations. A 5 team from the Oceania Dance Theatre were flown in from Laucala campus to be the face of Fiji.  It was a night of cinematography, dance performances, auctions and pledges from guests.    

Alan Alo with the support  and  partnership between the University of the South Pacific, Fiji Airways, Tanoa Tusitala Hotel, Apollo Cinema and the people of Samoa  have opened their hearts to the Children of Fiji.


Samoan Observer

Oceania Centre hosts 3rd Music Recital

The Oceania Centre hosted its 3rd Music Recital on the 9th of Nov, 2015. These recitals are culmination  of a 10 week class and students get the opportunity to share what they have learnt to their families. What started off as a discussion with Dr Kedrayate, FALE Dean last year, is now an ongoing and full time Social Classes designed to accommodate those that wish to purse their dream in the performing Arts. This term, for the first time, drum classes were introduced as an accompaniment to our guitar, piano and vocal classes. Our instructors are members of our Pasifika Voices Ensemble with many years of experience between them and David Stevens, local drummer who studied in England.
On the night, the performances by the students of the vocals, guitar and piano were harmonious, until the drummers came on and created a rumble. So laud was these enthusiastic drummers, that unbeknown to them, their mic was switched off so the other musicians could be heard. One just has to look on the family members to see the pride radiating from them.

Our Social Classes does not only teach you to play an instrument or use your voice as an instrument but students are also taught to sight music.
 The Oceania Centre will be offering Music Social Classes again next term. Check out the Oceania Centre Facebook page and be updated on the events of the Centre.
“I would teach children music, physics, and philosophy; but most importantly music, for the patterns in music and all the arts are the keys to learning” Plato


On the 18th, November, 2015, The University of the South Pacific and the European Union -  Delegation of the European Union for the Pacific  hosted the World Premiere of “Moana Rua: the Rising of the Sea” at Damodar City. A new 56-minute film about climate change and sea-level rise in the Pacific performed by the Oceania Centre’s Oceania Dance Theatre and Pasifika Voices.  This production was produced by the extraordinary Pacific-European cooperation taking place in the climate change research project ECOPAS (European Consortium for Pacific Studies), funded by the European Union with The University of the South Pacific as the project’s main partner in Oceania.  This film is the culmination of the European Tour Earlier this year by local performing artists.

The premiere, sponsored by the European Union delegation in Suva, is also an occasion to honour and celebrate the artists and artistic directors of “Moana” and their accomplishments during a demanding European Tour. For the world premiere, the ECOPAS Scientific Coordinator (and Executive Producer of “Moana Rua”), Professor Edvard Hviding of Norway’s University of Bergen, is visiting Suva to continue the building of strong connections between Europe and the Pacific, and between the University of Bergen and  USP.  Professor Hviding  conveyed  greetings from Norway. “Never before has Europe seen such a forceful Pacific presence as during the month when Moana was on the road”.

Back ground

The University of the South Pacific hosted the first major conference of ECOPAS in Suva in December 2013. On that occasion, the new climate change music-and-dance drama “Moana: the Rising of the Sea” was first performed, by acclaimed USP artists the Oceania Dance Theatre and Pasifika Voices, and funded by ECOPAS and the USP. With original choreography and musical score by Peter Rockford Espiritu and Igelese Ete and produced by Vilsoni Hereniko, and with an emotional and gripping story line based on true tales from the Pacific today.
In 2015, the artists and directors of “Moana” were invited to Norway by the University of Bergen (ECOPAS headquarters) to perform an expanded version of the drama (including Samoa’s Allan Alo cast in an impressive lead role) at the internationally leading Bergen International Festival, in May. The Oceania Dance Theatre and Pasifika Voices performed for audiences that included the Queen and Prime Minister of Norway, and packed theatre houses. The “Moana” drama received standing ovations and made front page media headlines which focused on both the quality of the art and the strong messages about the rising seas.

On a subsequent European Tour in June organised by ECOPAS, to the United Kingdom, Denmark and the heart of the European Union in Brussels, Belgium, the performers from the USP’s Oceania Centre triumphantly continued to win the hearts and minds of their audiences, as artists from, and climate warriors for Oceania. One of the performances in Norway, at the stately and technologically advanced Oseana Theatre located on a rocky shore by the North Sea, was filmed professionally, and the result is the new film entitled “Moana Rua” (indicating that it is the second version of the drama and the second film), produced by Vilsoni Hereniko.


Transmigration Mutton Bird

Twenty two Pacific Nations took part in Transmigration Mutton Bird project, the first-of-its-kind. This was the brain-child of Jeremy Sheehan,   Technical and Further Education (TAFE) Teacher from Coffs Harbour. The Transmigration project is part of Sculpture by the Sea, a prestigious annual event in held in Sydney at Bondi Beach.
The idea was to create a life-size frame of the mutton bird, it was sent it to artists within the Pacific region. The recipient artists used their creative talents or collaborated with others to decorate their bird and then sent it back to Jeremy in Coffs Harbour when it was completed.

Artist Jeremy Sheehan installs Trans Migration Mutton Birds for Sculpture by the Sea.Photo by James Brickwood

The Draiba Primary School students from Suva were invited to be part of our local Climate Change Community Outreach program which was part of our Beqa Island Climate Change workshop. This workshop was collaboration between the Oceania Centre Visual artists, Associate Professor Greg Downey and students from Macquarie University Sydney. The Oceania Centre artists and Macquarie University students assisted the students to decorate the bird as part of their half day climate change workshop at the Centre.
The bird was then sent back to Jeremy Sheehan in Coffs Harbour

Meet the artist John Devaraj

John Devaraj is an artists of many talents. His formal education is in Civil Engineering. He is a practicing sculptor, painter, architect, civil engineer, cinema and stage art director, musician, film maker, photographer, playwright, actor, puppeteer, taichi exponent, choreographer, facilitator and consultant for culture, and runs youth and children’s organization.

The artist with many talents is originally from Bangalore and has a formal education in civil engineering.  John is currently on a tour and decided to stop off at the Oceania Centre for Arts, Culture and Pacific Studies to meet up with fellow artists and share his life experience. From Fiji, John plans on traveling to Tuvalu and Samoa.
Speaking at a seminar at the Molikilagi Bure at The University of the South Pacific’s (USP) Laucala campus on 12 October, Mr Devaraj said the dream of an artist is to become a child again.
Mr Devaraj joined almost every social movement including the Working Class Movement and the Movement for World Peace.

Davaraji  has created numerous public monumental sculptures which involves  many people, especially children. He includes the future generation to create symbols of peace, friendship, freedom.  A testament to this endeavor  is the  world’s largest painting measuring 370 x 280 feet dedicated to the children of Pakistan.  
He was also the lead organiser of the United Games of Nations in India in which the theme was "If man can create conditions for war, he is also capable of creating conditions for peace".

Samoa Commonwealth Youth Games 2015 (SCYG15) Ceremonies

Note from the Producer, Artistic Director & Chief Choreographer

The Samoa Commonwealth Youth Games 2015 (SCYG15) Ceremonies follows the overall theme for the Games with Inspiration and Empowerment of young people at its core. The Official Cultural Program calls for a Thematic and Theatrical application to the opening and closing ceremonies. This ‘double hulled canoe’ approach gives the events overall cohesion while subjecting its organisation to the rigours of theatre.


Two sections of the Opening ceremonies are 1; Old Traditional Samoa with a solemn and more serious re-telling of the Creation Mythology of Samoa with Tagaloalagi and the creation of the nine heavens through traditional dances and songs featuring an array of ma’uluulu, Siva Ti’a and siva afi. 2; New Contemporary Samoa is a more fun setting of Samoa today from the arrival of Christianity. Here the theme of contemporary Samoa highlights “Icons” presented in a more informal and fun setting. The icons include various representations of characters. A Policeman directing traffic of people that leads to the performance of the Contemporary Ava Dance.
To achieve an articulated vision of the opening ceremonies, rigorous procedures such as the following are in effect pre-set. A detailed script to guide the ceremonies from start to finish; a musical score (similar to a movie score) from start to finish; complete choreography of not only the dances but also of all the transitions between sections and movements of all those dancing, singing and speaking; lighting design for the Opening & Closing Ceremony; A set designed for components of the ceremony; Costumes, sound and props designed according to vision and lastly positions and responsibilities such as those of an overall director, plus support personnel such as stage managers, sound engineers, lighting crew and a production manager.


The Cultural Program is a platform to highlight the value and the need for continued development of the Arts in School curriculum in Samoa - Primary, Secondary and Tertiary. 
Gratitude must be highlighted of the Prime Minister Hon. Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielgaoi and Chair of SCYG15 Organising committee for the invitation of Allan Alo, Pacific Outreach Coordinator – Polynesia and Igelese Ete, Head of Performing Arts from the Oceania Centre for Arts Culture and Pacific Studies to deliver the ceremonies. The University of the South Pacific’s Vice Chancellor, Professor Rajesh Chandra for his support in allowing the expert assistance of the two Directors. The support from the Faculty of Arts Law and Education, and its  Dean, Dr.  Akanisi Kedrayate and the Oceania Centre for Arts Culture and Pacific Studies.
Essentially, the support and encouragement of the CEO Ministry of Education Sports & Culture(MESC) and chair of Ceremonies Sub Committee – Matafeo Tanielu Aiafi, Mr Vito Lui CEO of the SCYG15 main office, and assistance of officers such as Visesio Ah Yek and the MESC taskforce has enabled this monumental event to flourish.
I would like to thank my creative team, Music Director extraordinaire Tuilagi Igelese Ete for his genius, Andrea Torres (Aerial Samadhi Hawaii), Inipene Simanu and the Samoa Teachers Cultural group (Traditional), Eterei Salele, Albert Wilson, Nessa Tavai and the USP Outreach Dance Theatre team (Contemporary) and Leua Latai and the National University of Samoa Art Agency (Props) and many others.

Finally the talents and determination of more than 2,000 cast of young students and teachers from 13 different High schools selected from Government, Church and Private schools has made working on this Production an enjoyable and rewarding experience.  I hope that the Cultural, Artistic and Educational program is as inspiring and empowering for them as it is for me.
With heartfelt thanks and appreciation,
Tuilagi Seiuli Allan Alo Va’ai.

Producer, Artistic Director & Chief Choreographer
Samoa Commonwealth Youth Games Ceremonies 2015.

Training Workshop - “Planning for the Conservation and Development of the Historic Towns and Urban Areas”.

A 2-week training on the “Planning for the Conservation and Development of Historic Towns and Urban Areas” brought together, about 20 senior government officials, specialists advisors, architects, town planners and municipality administrators involved in the area of historic environment, planning architecture, urban design, heritage management, landscape and other conservation projects and initiatives.
The training workshop was conducted by the Department of Heritage and Arts in cooperation with the Pacific Heritage Hub; technical/consultancy assistance from the World Heritage Institute of Training and Research for Asia and the Pacific Region (WHITRAP) and funded jointly by Netherlands Funds-in-Trust (UNESCO), UNESCO World Heritage Centre Office (Paris) and Department of Heritage and Arts of the Ministry of Education, Heritage and Arts.

This training is a follow-up to the inscription of the Historical Port Town of Levuka in 2013 as a World Heritage Site, Fiji’s first and also the first built heritage site in the Pacific region.  In his opening remarks, Mr. Robin Yarrow, Chairman of the National Trust of Fiji Council said that built heritage is important because it represents tangible history and adds so much character to urban areas and towns as the structures are unique to the location and are direct links to the past generations, such as the Sacred Heart Cathedral, Grand Pacific Hotel (GPH) and Mercury House to name a few.  
The general aim of the 2-week training was to advance the education of professionals and administrators in the protection and preservation of buildings and structures and their settings which are of architectural, urban, landscape or historical value.  The following modules and practical field work was undertaken to address the above priority needs;
i.    Fundamentals of Heritage Conservation;
ii.    Urban Conservation Planning and Management;
iii.    Development and Design for Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas.
The co-moderator for the workshop Ms. Temalesi Waqainabete of the Pacific Heritage Hub; a UNESCO facility by and for Pacific State Parties hosted at the University of the South Pacific said that this training workshop is one of the key regional achievement by a Pacific State Party in addressing the 5-Training Priorities identified in the Pacific World Heritage Action Plan (2010-2015) which are; Conservation, Education, Risk Preparedness, Visitor Management and Community Outreach.
The training workshop was facilitated by Dr. Cristina Iamandi, International Expert in Heritage Conservation, Architect, Urban Planner and UNESCO/WHITRAP Facilitator.


University of Auckland Students Visits the Oceania Centre

On September 7th, 2015, a group of students from the University of Auckland visited OCACPS as part of an inaugural Pacific Studies Field School. Led by Associate Professor Damon Salesa (Director of Pacific Strategy and Engagement and Co-Head of Te Wānanga o Waipapa), a dozen postgraduate and undergraduate Pasifika students from diverse backgrounds, such as anthropology, archaeology, creative arts, law, theology, and engineering spent the day  talanoa on various topics related to Pacific cultures and societies, past and present. The discussions were well attended by OCACPS Pacific Studies postgraduate students, as well as staff. The Oceania Dance Theatre, Pasifika Voices, and the Visual Arts also showcased their talents. The Auckland team expressed keen interest in hosting OCACPS students and staff in the near future.


Pacific Studies hosts archaeologist Dr. Basil Reid


From August 2nd to the 21st, 2015, Pacific Studies hosted archaeologist Dr. Basil Reid of the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine Campus, Trinidad and Tobago. Dr. Reid traveled to Fiji on a Caribbean-Pacific Mobility Scholarship (CARPIMS) to gather information on early (Pre-Colonial) food production in the Pacific region to compare with data from the Caribbean. He interacted with staff from the Fiji Museum and Dr. Frank Thomas (OCACPS), who is also interested in documenting the range of cultivars associated with early farming communities in the Pacific, as well as farming techniques and the socio-political organizations that underpinned early farming communities in the Pacific vis-à-vis those in the Caribbean. Drs. Reid and Thomas plan to publish together and consolidate ties between USP and UWI.



Students visit from the Taiwan National University

From July 24th to August 6th, OCACPS hosted a dozen students and their lecturers from Taiwan National University as part of Pacific Studies International Program. The students, all members of Austronesian-speaking communities, arrived on campus in their traditional costume and performed songs and dances at the welcome ceremony hosted by Dr. Frank Thomas.



The students interacted with the Centre’s staff and students to learn more about Fijian culture and Pacific epistemology, governance, art, early settlement, and contemporary issues. They also visited various government and regional organizations, as well as villages.

Cli-mat: Weaving climate awareness through art.

The Oceania Centre for Arts, Culture and Pacific Studies of the University of the South Pacific is pleased to announce the launch of a new exhibition: Cli-mat: Weaving climate awareness through art. Cli-mat is a collaboration of Pacific artists, USP staff, primary school students, and a group from Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia.

The exhibition of original works includes sculptures, assemblages, and woven mat-based art that uses recycled rubbish, and other found materials, as well as photography and multimedia. The works explore the effects of climate change and environmental challenges faced by Fiji and other Pacific nations. The students, staff and artists, including master carver Paula Ligairua, travelled to Beqa Island for the project.

Visual Arts Coordinator Johanna Beasley explained:
The island environment on Beqa gives artists a unique opportunity to find inspiration. Leaving the urban environment produces a positive atmosphere that encourages, not just new work, but innovative techniques. With the students from Macquarie documenting the creative process, the artists can focus on their work – the students will take care of the online exhibition. Our artists can also learn from our visitors, especially IT and video production.

The exhibition includes art projects with school children on Beqa Island, who participated in an outreach program. These projects are a model curriculum that uses art to raise awareness of environmental issues, including rubbish disposal and sea level change.

The exhibition presents visual art and multi-media by students of Macquarie University, who are participating in the class, ‘Field school in anthropology: Fiji.’ The course is new to Macquarie’s ‘Professionalisation and Community Engagement’ (MQ-PACE) program. MQ-PACE encourages students to apply what they learn at university while working with diverse partners.

The ‘field school’ class is made possible by a grant from the Australian government under the New Colombo scheme. Macquarie and the Australian government want students to gain experience in Asia and the Pacific, so that Australia can better cooperate with the region in the future.

The ‘field school’ coordinator, Associate Professor Greg Downey, together with colleague Dr. Frank Siciliano, sought the collaboration with USP, the first of its kind for MQ-PACE. As Downey describes the ‘field school’:
Bringing together art with anthropology is a wonderful opportunity. Anthropologists study other cultures, trying to share insights into the way people live. Artists do the same — they communicate how they see the world and the concerns of their communities. This is true in both traditional and contemporary art. Producing videos and an online exhibition allows my students to use their anthropological skills to help the artists communicate broadly, even to a global audience. And these media make sure that the exhibition lives on, even after all the works are taken down from the gallery and replaced with something new.

The exhibition opened on the 22nd of July and remain on display until September. The online exhibition will be launched at the same time, at the site pacificecoarts.com

In Search of Amelia Earhart

From June 18th to July 2nd, Dr. Frank Thomas (Pacific Studies) took part in a research trip to Nikumaroro Atoll in the Phoenix Group of Kiribati on board the Fiji Princess. He presented on several topics related to Pacific Island environments and societies to a group of about 70 passengers. The group was the first official visit by cruise ship visitors to this remote atoll in the central Pacific. Passengers joined scientists and volunteers of TIGHAR (The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery) on the eighth expedition to Nikumaroro since 1989 in search of the famed aviator, Amelia Earhart, who disappeared along with her navigator on July 2nd, 1937, on what was intended to be the first circumnavigation of the globe by air. It was long assumed that Earhart lost her way from Lae, New Guinea, to Howland Island, ran out of fuel, and crashed into the ocean. An alternate scenario has her making a successful landing on what was then known as Gardner Island (Nikumaroro) where she became a castaway. 



        Scientists and volunteers of TIGHAR                            Nikumaroro Atoll in the Phoenix Group of Kiribati


The atoll was uninhabited when the British Government established the Phoenix Islands Settlement Scheme in 1938, until the colony was abandoned in 1963. Stories related to the discovery of human remains and plane parts were subsequently recorded by TIGHAR, culminating in the first systematic search of the atoll for the lost aviators. Over the years, more clues, both on land and underwater, have come to light giving support to this alternate hypothesis. The Fiji Princess also made stopovers on Rotuma and Funafuti.

Research Cluster

From January 15th to February 9th 2015, a team comprising of Dr. Frank Thomas (Oceania Centre for Arts, Culture & Pacific Studies), Dr. Keith Morrison, and Mrs. Nenenteiti Abeta (Pacific Centre for Environment & Sustainable Development), conducted a series of consultations with several Government ministries, Local Government, NGOs, and communities. USP’s Research Office provided the funding to allow the team to travel to Tarawa and Abaiang to seek the views of stakeholders with the aim of including their ideas in the final draft of a research proposal, entitled ‘Environment and Society Interaction in Kiribati: From First Settlement to European Contact’. This proposal is part of OCACPS Research Cluster headed by Dr. David Gegeo.

The project aims to examine the interaction of people and environment in Kiribati from initial settlement by indigenous Micronesians to Western contact from an interdisciplinary perspective. Although it focuses on Abaiang Atoll, it is hoped that certain generalizations could be made regarding cultural resilience across Kiribati and in other low coral islands of the Pacific.

It is hypothesized that despite environmental challenges or perhaps because of them, communities living on the atolls and table reefs of Kiribati achieved sustainability during the last 2,000 years through the interaction of low human population densities, low impact technologies, optimal use of resources, and the application of intentional and unintentional conservation practices. The project comprises several sub-themes, each led by a specialist in a particular area of study, to produce an integrated understanding of human ecology on Abaiang.

This four-year interdisciplinary project is guided by the concept of sustainability that also takes into account present-day needs and is not narrowly confined to climate change issues. The research thus aims to link past, present, and future within the context of successful indigenous knowledge and practice.

Photographs courtesy of Naoki Takyo. Copyright © Naoki Takyo All Rights Reserved 2011.

Fine Dancing Opens at the Oceania Centre

A new play titled ‘Fine Dancing’ will open at the Visual and Performing Arts Pavilion, Oceania Centre for Arts, Culture and Pacific Studies (OCACPS) at the University of the South Pacific on 1st December, 2011.

Written and directed by Professor Vilsoni Hereniko, Director of OCACPS, this fantasy for adults explores a month in the life of a tired wife in Honolulu, Hawaii, who abandons her children for a rendezvous with the Polynesian Moon Goddess who teaches her how to ‘fine dance’ with her abusive husband and his lover. 

Starring Allan Alo, Ateca Ravuvu, Glen Lord and Sadrishan Velaidan, this strictly adults only play will take audiences on an emotional journey into the world of domestic violence and of course dance as a metaphor for life itself.  It is not all dark, however, and like life itself, there are plenty of lighter moments which are sure to see audiences laughing even as the tears roll down their faces. 

With a cast made up of professional dancers, it is not surprising that dance is a powerful element in Fine Dancing and Peter Espiritu, the new Artistic Director for the Oceania Dance Theatre, has done a superb job of choreography with the actors and supporting dancers quite literally scaling new heights.

Opening with a Gala Cocktail function on Thursday, 1st December, the show will also run on December 2nd, 3rd, 8th, 9th and 10th, with a special half price for university students only show on Wednesday, 7th December.

Tickets are on sale from the Oceania Centre, USP Book Centre, Kahawa Cafe, Guava Cafe and Holiday Inn.  Tickets for regular shows are $20 each, while the university students night is $10 with a valid university student ID. The tickets for the Gala Opening Night Cocktail are $50 per person.

USP Council Dinner at the Oceania Centre Friday 4th November 2011

Opening of the Visual and Performing Arts Pavilion

On Saturday evening, 15th October, the Director of the Oceania Centre Professor Vilsoni Hereniko, staff & creative artists welcomed guests to the celebration of the launching of their new Oceania Centre for Arts and Culture. An impressive new performance space extension to what was the original Oceania dance building, now called the Visual and Performing Arts Pavilion.

This is exciting news for the arts community, as this will mean a definite increase in creative initiatives from Director Prof Hereniko and his highly renowned staff/artists, newest staff member arriving just two days prior, highly respected Hawaiian choreographer Peter Espiritu ‘hit the ground running’ by taking up his new role as Artistic Director instantly.

Professor Hereniko thanked all those who contributed to the renovation & extension, namely Vice-Chancellor Professor Rajesh Chandra, staff, architects and building contractors.

The guests were then presented a wonderful mini-production, created by Peter Espiritu, Prof Hereniko & Composer/Conductor Igelese Ete, and performed by their talented resident performing ensembles - Oceania Dance Theatre and Pasifika Voices.

It was a moving performance, performing arts with meaning & passion, proudly signifying the unity & creativity of pacific contemporary, traditional, fusion, operatic, gospel. Boldly claiming their solidarity under the initial vision of the Late Professor Epeli Hau’ofa  & literally showing how the torch has being passed on to Professor Hereniko. A sign of the exciting wonderful things to come from the Oceania Centre for Arts Culture & Pacific Studies at USP.

Images (top to bottom): Igelese Ete conducting Pasifika Voices; Oceania Dance Theatre choreographed by Peter Espiritu; Dr Akanisi Kedrayate (Dean FAL) with Professor Vilsoni Hereniko (Director OCACPS) and Professor Rajesh Chandra (Vice-Chancellor USP).

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