“Exploring, Celebrating and Deepening Oceanic Relationalities”
Victoria University of Wellington, Aotearoa New Zealand
19th – 22nd November
Over 130 researchers, educators and practitioners from 25 countries gathered from 19th –22nd November at Victoria University of Wellington for the 46th OCIES conference. The conference theme Exploring, celebrating and deepening Oceanic relationalities encouraged reflection on the gains, challenges, and possibilities of strengthening people-relationalities in our changing times. Presentations reflected our shared commitment to post-coloniality, deimperalisation, the recognition of Indigenous rights, social justice, sustainability and people-enablement.
Conference delegates were welcomed onto the Victoria University of Wellington with a powhiri at Te Herenga Waka Marae. Delegates experienced a traditional karanga (call onto the marae), whaikōrero (speeches) and waiata (song). Following the formalities, Paul Meredith, the Executive Officer from the Office of the Deputy VC Maori, at the Victoria University of Wellington shared the rich history and stories of prominent Māori ancestors told in the poupou (carved figures) and tukutuku panels (woven panels). We were then treated to a hakari (afternoon feast) at the wharekai (dining hall).
Throughout the conference, over 100 papers, panel presentations, talanoa and tok stories took place. These papers prompted rich engagement and invigorating discussion around key ideas and the conference theme. We were treated to three outstanding keynote speakers. Professor Vilsoni Hereniko encouraged us to engage in ‘relational flexibility’ by embracing multiple knowledge systems. Associate Professor Joanna Kidman gave a stirring keynote that challenged us to engage in intellectual soul searching within our field. Finally, Dr Michelle Johannson used spoken word, music and dance to demonstrate the power of ‘re-storying’ through embodied literacies.
The conference dinner was held at the stunning Te wharewaka function centre and proved to be a highly memorable night. We enjoyed a Māori-style buffet and were entertained with performances by students from the Whitireia (Polytechnic) Performing Arts School who treated us to music and dance from the Pacific. Much to our delight, they even invited OCIES members to join in!
The evening acknowledged and honoured the work of OCIES elders and past Executive Committee members – Larry Saha, David Small, Helen Hill, Robin Burns, Brian Denman, Eve Coxon, Ritesh Shah and Alex McCormick. We also said farewell to Matthew Thomas who concluded his role as OCIES Secretary. What a wonderful way to recognise the great work of those who have contributed to the Society over the past 46 years!
Our heartfelt thanks to conference organisers Dr Martyn Reynolds (programme co-convener), Dr Stephanie Doyle (programme co-convener), Dr Adreanne Ormond, Ali Glasgow, Maggie Flavell (doctoral candidate), Louise Falepau (doctoral candidate), Jianfeng Cheng (doctoral candidate), Stella Watta (conference manager), and Kabini Sanga (conference convener). This team has worked tirelessly to provide an engaging, hospitable and well-organised conference. We appreciate all of the work that you put into making this conference so memorable. Ngā mihi nui ki a koutou.