Bellagio Publishing Network  

 BPN Newsletter Issue No 28, November 2001 


Networking in the Pacific

Linda Crowl, Robyn Bargh and Liliane Tauru
Contact email:

For a couple of centuries, publishing concerning the Pacific Islands had been developed and promoted in Europe or the US. The writers, the publishers, and even the readers were largely foreign to Oceania. Few opportunities existed for indigenous Pacific peoples to tell their own stories through their own publishing, an opportunity essential to supporting the writing and perspectives of indigenous Pacific peoples in both local and foreign languages, so that Pacific voices can be heard within and around the world.

Since 1994, Pacific Islands publishers have begun a process of strengthening linkages among book actors in the region through activities that encourage the growing literature of indigenous content and titles. They have organised book fairs of their own and in conjunction with other events such as the Australian Book Fair in 1996 and 1998, the Salon du livre d'outre-mer in Paris since 1998, and the Festival of Pacific Arts in 1996. They have also worked with international bodies such as UNESCO, which sponsored a workshop in 1998 on Creating a Reading Environment. Education officials from 13 Pacific Islands countries committed themselves to surveying book provision in their own state (the findings have been published as Book Provision in the Pacific Islands, UNESCO and Institute of Pacific Studies, 1999); fostering national book policies; and working towards regional co-operation in book matters.

In 1999, a conference of the South Pacific Association of Literature and Languages (SPACLALS) was held in Suva, Fiji. At the conference, there was a panel discussion on Pacific publishing; the panel was Robyn Rangihuia Bargh from Huia Publishers, New Zealand; Marjorie Tuainekore Crocombe from Rarotonga and Linda Crowl from the Institute of Pacific Studies in Fiji.

A year later, Robyn Bargh, Linda Crowl, Liliane Tauru, and book people from Hawaii, Samoa, New Caledonia and other island countries discussed ideas at the 8th Pacific Arts Festival in Noumea in a workshop on Pacific publishing.

The dialogue led to the creation of a network of actors to promote the development of the publishing industry in the Pacific region. The following main objectives were proposed:

1. develop successful publishing business units employing indigenous Pacific people, in each Pacific island nation;
2. strive to publish works which convey the stories, images and dreams of indigenous Pacific peoples using their own languages or the lingua franca; and
3. create a network of publishing business units which will enable indigenous Pacific peoples to share experiences, knowledge and skills.

An initial step has been taken with the creation of an email discussion list. This list is hosted by the Pacific Community ( and is open to all Pacific publishers as well as to related professions. To send a message, the address is:

The next step will be to participate in Australia's or New Zealand's book fairs in 2002, then to host a book fair in the islands in 2003. Given the small and under-educated populations of the Pacific Islands, separated as they are by vast oceanic distances as well as by 1200 indigenous and four colonial languages, book fairs are essential to foster communication among professionals and to share the joy of books with the general public. We hope to establish Pacific Islands prizes for publishing, writing, illustration, and marketing and to offer workshops on significant topics for Pacific Islands publishers. [end]  [BPN, no 28, 2001, p 3.]

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