Lionel Brown, left, and Marjorie Crocombe, the first two graduates from USP Cook Islands marched together again in 2018 at the 50th anniversary graduation. Photo: SUPPLIED/18102515
One of the Pacific region’s most respected authors and academic, Cook Islander Dr. Marjorie Tuainekore Crocombe née Hosking OBE passed away on Thursday night aged 92.
Crocombe, who worked as a lecturer at the University of the South Pacific Cook Islands and senior lecturer at the Centre for Pacific Studies at the University of Auckland, collaborated with her husband, the late Ron Crocombe, co-writing and editing several books and articles.
son, hotelier Tata Crocombe in a Facebook post said: “Over 92 active years, Mum
was first and foremost the devoted matriarch of our family, as well as an
educator, author and university administrator whose life helped and touched so
was a pioneer in so many fields of endeavour, the first Cook Islands female
sent as a scholarship student to Wanganui Collegiate where she was the first
Polynesian Head Girl, the first Cook Islands graduate from a New Zealand
Teachers College, the first Cook Islands author of many books for the Education
Department, the first published Cook Islands historian for her research of the
early Cook Islands missionaries in collaboration with a Professor from the
Australian National University, the first female Director of Extension Studies
at the University of the South Pacific, first Director of the Centre for
Pacific Studies at Auckland University, first Cook Islands recipient of an
honorary Doctorate of Letters from the University of the South Pacific and so
in Peace Dear Mum.”
Cook Islands campus director Dr Debi Futter-Puati said Marjorie was a hugely influential Vaine Toa who
made an impact on generations of scholars and academics.
“She was a teacher, a
writer, academic leader and friend. She was an ally for all things scholarly in
the Cook Islands and right across the Pacific region for that matter,” Futter-Puati said.
Mama Marjie as many
affectionately know her was awarded an honorary degree from USP – a Doctor of
Letters (DLitt) in 2010, for her huge scholarly contribution to Pacific
knowledge which included books, journal articles, advocacy, feminism, etc.
She received numerous
awards for her long-standing and outstanding service to the region in the
Pacific, and particularly the Cook Islands, including receiving the Queen’s
Award of the Order of the British Empire, OBE in 2009.
Mama Marjie agreed to be
the patron of Te Vairanga Kite Pakari, the Cook Islands Research Association, with
much reluctance as she was never one to seek the limelight, Futter-Puati said.
“She continued to support scholars right through
to the last of her days. She never ceased encouraging others to write, to enter
in academia, to challenge the status quo, and constantly reminded people that their
stories were important to tell. ‘just write’ she would often say!
“Mama will be sorely
missed. She was my mentor, my friend and a champion of USP. Rest easy my
phil smith on 25/07/2022
I had the honour of meeting and spending time with this lady on Atiu in 2008. A very special, intelligent and articulate person who will be missed.