Poet Vaine Rasmussen reads a poem from the anthology, to the left is a portrait of Dr. Marjorie Crocombe in the USP Cook Islands art collection.
A new book, an anthology of Cook Islands short stories and poems, published by USP Press, was launched at USP Cook Islands on 22 October 2018 before a packed audience.
The new book entitled ‘MANA – 50 years of Cook Islands Creative writing in English and Cook Islands Māori’ celebrates the role of Dr Marjorie Crocombe in the ‘first wave of post-colonial writing in the Pacific’.
It also celebrates the 50th Anniversary of USP and the University’s role in supporting Pacific writing and publishing.
Part one of the anthology comprises writings by Cook Islanders published by USP in the period 1974 – 2010 while part two comprises new Cook Islands writing from 2010 - 2018.
The introduction by Cook Islands scholar Emma Emily Ngakuravaru Powell provides a survey of Cook Islands writing from 1968 - 2018. The book is extensively illustrated with 35 watercolours by Joan Gragg. Editors were Joan Gragg, Ngavaevae Papatua, Patricia Thompson and Rod Dixon.
The book launch included reading from the anthology by Makiuti Tongia, Florence Syme-Buchanan, Jon Jonassen, Vaine Rasmussen-Wichman, Mike Tavioni and Marianna Powell, who read her poem 'Sonde', verses written in Palmerston-English. Author Lynnsay Francis launched the book.
In reply Dr. Marjorie Crocombe recounted her efforts, following the establishment of the new University in 1968 to create its ‘soul’ through Pacific writing.
With a number of other writers, she established the South Pacific Creative Arts Society (SPACS) and its journal ‘Mana’. Those who received encouragement and support from SPACS included the noted poet Alistair Te Ariki Campbell, born in Tongareva and the renowned Samoan author Albert Wendt.
In a message sent during the launch, Mr Wendt thanked Dr Crocombe for all the dedicated and magnificent work done all these years for the “development of our arts and cultures”.
“Congratulations on this great honour. Alolofa atu Al and Reina,” he said.
His Excellency Mr Peter Marshall, New Zealand High Commissioner provided the vote of thanks noting that the book brought together a body of Cook Islands literature that will be a source of inspiration to, and a suitable subject of study for generations of Cook Islands school and University students.
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