The Oceania Centre for Arts and Culture was established in 1997 as a special project of the University of the South Pacific’s (USP) University Council. The Laucala campus based initiative intended to address concerns about cultural conservation and development in the USP member countries. The late Professor Epeli Hau’ofa, renown academic, writer and philosopher, was appointed as Oceania Centre’s first Director, supported by a Programme Assistant and a Cleaner.
From these humble beginnings, The Oceania Centre grew into a leading creative centre for the region, with a growing international reputation. Over the years, various Pacific-island based and international artists have contributed to the development of a unique brand of contemporary art at The Oceania Centre and resident Visual and Performing Artists have toured internationally.
In 2008, as part of the University restructure, the Pacific Studies Programme integrated in to the section to form the Oceania Centre for Arts, Culture and Pacific Studies (OCACPS). This brought together for the first time academia, research and the creative arts.
The most recent addition to the section is the Pacific Heritage Hub (PHH), which began in 2012 as a UNESCO project hosted by the University and housed at the Oceania Centre. PHH continues to emphasize its mandate to improve the implementation of the 1972 World Heritage Convention and safeguarding Pacific cultural and natural heritage in the region. PHH integration as a department of the Oceania Centre was formalized in 2018.