We Just live our own lives here - in the Pacific

Quanchi, Max (1999) We Just live our own lives here - in the Pacific. Asia Pacific Media Educator, pp. 131-36.

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To state that the mostly rural population of Pacific Islanders spread across 22 nations and hundreds of language and cultural groups are "just living their own lives", acknowledging but not greatly affected by geo-politics and globalisation, is a reasonable assertion. This phrase is borrowed from Geua Dekure of Koiari in PNG when interviewed for the book Views from interviews: the changing role of women in Papua New Guinea. Geua acknowledged that missions, colonial rule and independence had affected her people, but she noted that "we just live our own lives here… we recognise each other's strengths and traditional knowledge. That is why we are still happy" (Turner 1993: 8-9).

Although a drift to the cities and out-migration are on the increase, the village, clan, land and community remain at the centre of custom, identity and lifestyle for most Pacific Island people. While catchy and convenient, the phrase "just living our own lives" tends to underestimate the agency and control which Island peoples exercise over their own destinies. Indeed, Island leaders reject accusations that their socio-economic and political position is irreversibly precarious and that they cannot manage, govern and plan for growth on their own terms. It is also true that leaders acknowledge problems exist at all levels of politics and society in the Pacific.

But, the agenda for the annual meetings, for example, of the Pacific Forum or the Secretariat for the Pacific Community, suggests that the prime ministers, presidents and bureaucrats of the Pacific’s independent nations are actively engaging in developing appropriate policies on economic growth, the monitoring of logging, fishing, mining and tourism, infrastructure development and the ratifying of a variety of international conventions and treaties. Mismanagement, corruption, a declining resource base and overpopulation are problems that could certainly be added to the list. However, the agenda of these meetings also indicates that there is a confidence, determination and ability to apply islander-solutions, grassroots initiatives and traditional structures and to not merely rely on guidance handed down from distant western agencies, former colonial powers and bigger neighbours.

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ID Code: 542
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
Keywords: Pacific Islands, Social Change, journalism
ISSN: 1326-365X
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY (160000) > SOCIOLOGY (160800) > Social Change (160805)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > HISTORY AND ARCHAEOLOGY (210000) > HISTORICAL STUDIES (210300) > Pacific History (excl. New Zealand and Maori) (210313)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Centre for Social Change Research
Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > QUT Carseldine - Humanities & Human Services
Copyright Owner: Copyright 1999 University of Wollongong, Graduate School of Journalism
Copyright Statement: Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher: This journal is available online.
Deposited On: 09 Nov 2004 00:00
Last Modified: 02 Feb 2012 09:44

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