Remembering Dr Majorie Crocombe: Puna

Pic: Marjorie Tuainekore Crocombe

Across the Pacific, from the smallest atolls to the busiest cities, from the sleepy silences to the never-ending online chat streams, wherever there is an educated or Pacific-facing leader, thinker or creative, there is a story, an encounter, or a journal article that tracks back to Marjorie Crocombe, says Pacific Islands Forum Secretary-General Henry Puna in memory of the late Cook Islands author and academic.

Puna said in a statement: “Her legacy as one of the first educators, published writers and academic researchers of this nation has been captured and given new life in the digital realm. Today and into the future, more generations of researchers and academics are meeting her through the online archives of her work… something she would never have imagined in the early days of typing up her papers and translating research into English to bring the first person, reo maori writings to new audiences.

“Through her lifelong devotion to education and academia — a journey which she shared so ably with her soulmate and mental match, the late Papa Ron Crocombe, her impact on people from all walks of life – including political life–has been immeasurable.

“Like the mighty tree, she has gifted a forest of educated, resilient and strong Pacific and Pacific-minded people– like many of us, they encountered Aunty Marjie if not in person, then through her writings, her lectures, her ideas. No matter what field of life they are in, we will continue to hear and see the imprint of Aunty Marjie coming through from those who will continue to be impacted and guided by her vision for a Pacific world view–a world view inspired and informed by our histories, our languages, our people, our past, our present, our future.”

Puna acknowledged the late “Islands Business Pacific Islands Woman of the Year 1990″ as part of the “first generation of Pacific academics” because of her countless contribution towards Pacific history and literature at reputable universities in Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and Fiji since the 1960s. It lead to the milestone achievement of the Cook Islands language being added to the USP curriculum in 2016/2017. 

“I was the Chancellor of USP at the time and she had invited me to speak at the Cook Islands extension centre on the importance of our native language to our culture and identity,” says Puna. “While taking questions after, she challenged me publicly to do what I can to help with the survival of our language by having it accepted as part of the USP curriculum so that it is available to our people and others who choose to learn it. The inclusion was made that same year.”

“For if there was one word which really cut to the heart of the impact Professor Majorie Crocombe, Aunty Marjie had on all those she met, it was education. She lived it, breathed it, and touched the lives of everyone she met with her passion for the power of education as the key to a better world,” he said.