Yes, you heard that right, there is no such thing as Polynesia. There are no distinct borders or landmarks that say you are now in Polynesia. The terms Polynesia, Melanesia and Micronesia are colonial terminology to group Pacific islanders into what colonists believe makes sense to them.
Polynesia means many islands and refers to a 'group' that share several similar cultural aspects. Melanesia is a racist term that refers to the dark skin of people within that specific region. Micronesia refers to the smaller sized islands in that area. Do they mean anything about who we are as people? Does it draw upon our distinct cultures? No, they do not.
New Zealand has also coined the term Pasifika, which Australia is beginning to use, to again put us into a box so that it is easier for them to talk to the 20 plus different island countries. Each country with their own government. Each country with their own language. Each country with their own distinct cultures. Each country with their own needs, issues, and resources.
Why then should we be put into a box that does nothing for us but add extra labels to our lives? Why do we continue to allow other people to give us labels that serve their agendas?
While we are all distinct, we all have one thing that tethers us together. This is our link to the Pacific Ocean. We are all surrounded by the ocean. We all rely on the ocean for sustenance. We all fear that the ocean will one day engulf our island homes. That our island homes will not be there for our future generations to fall in love with.
Why then as warriors of the ocean should we not be able to put the rest of the world in boxes that help us to see who our allies are and who just want the world to think they care for our island homes?
For example, instead of continents we can classify each country according to their carbon emissions. We could have the ‘killers of the earth’, ‘everyday polluters’, ‘when I remember polluters’ and lastly, ‘we love clean air’. Then we can see which areas need to slow their developments and think about ways to get back to nature. Look at some of the indigenous practices found within our island nations and use them to make changes for the world.
Pacific island nations bloodlines are no longer only found in the islands. Our bloodlines are growing stronger daily as the Pacific diaspora grows around the world. Our voices are no longer just small islands in the middle of the ocean. We are shouting from all over the USA, our screams are heard in Europe and we continue to roar in Australia and New Zealand. We will no longer be put into categories. We shed ourselves of colonial mindsets and open our minds to our ancestors and our future generations.
Do you want to stay in the coloniser’s labelled boxes? How are you opening your lives to the traditions of your ancestors? Tell us in the comments
If you want to take a step toward having our Pacific voices heard read Australian Elections – Why Does it Matter?