We Are the Ocean is a collection of essays, fiction, and poetry by Epeli Hau‘ofa, whose writing over the past three decades has consistently challenged prevailing notions about Oceania and prescriptions for its development. He highlights major problems confronted by the region and suggests alternative perspectives and ways in which its people might reorganize to relate effectively to the changing world.
Hau‘ofa’s essays criss-cross Oceania, creating a navigator’s star chart of discussion and debate. Spurning the arcana of the intellectual establishments where he was schooled, Hau‘ofa has crafted a distinctive―often lyrical, at times angry―voice that speaks directly to the people of the region and the general reader. He conveys his thoughts from diverse standpoints: university-based analyst, essayist, satirist and humorist, and practical catalyst for creativity. According to Hau‘ofa, only through creative originality in all fields of endeavor can the people of Oceania hope to strengthen their capacity to engage the forces of globalization.
“Our Sea of Islands,” “The Ocean in Us,” “Pasts to Remember,” and “Our Place Within,” all of which are included in this collection, outline some of Hau‘ofa’s ideas for the emergence of a stronger and freer Oceania. Throughout he expresses his concern with the environment and suggests that the most important role that the “people of the sea” can assume is as custodians of the Pacific, the vast area of the world’s largest body of water.