I decided to embark on my Pacific Odyssey after experiencing Polynesia in Easter Island. I can’t tell you why I chose French Polynesia as my first destination. It was reasonably westwards from Easter Island. It was closer to the equator so I hoped it would be warmer. And who wouldn’t want to have gone to Tahiti? Besides, as an Anglophone I gained so much unexpected insight from travelling through a Spanish-speaking non-European country, that I was curious to see if it would be repeated in a French-speaking one.
It was only when I researched the trip that I realised how vast French Polynesia is. It is comprised of many archipelagoes, each with many interesting islands. In the end, I contented myself with only two locations.
I knew that not many non-Westerners outside the Pacific get to come here. So I knew that I would probably experience something or other differently than previous travellers who have written about travel to French Polynesia. But it wasn’t until I got there that I had an inkling that there was more to these islands than tourism. Some of it was controversial, enough that this blog attracted censorship attention before I even began writing about it.
For this reason, I’m choosing to preserve below the text I wrote here after the incidents began in 2020.
Normally I write the category description after I finish writing about the place. But I’m making an exception for French Polynesia.
Consistent with my slow travel style which yielded the unique stories about all the other places I’ve written about on this blog, I try to acknowledge indigenous names for colonised locations. I don’t make any commentary; I just recognise it. I am, after all, Malaysian. We were once colonised.
However, one day after I added ‘Maohi Nui’ to this category name, not replacing but merely side by side with ‘French Polynesia’, the whole category was mysteriously deleted from my website.
Now, I didn’t learn the name Maohi Nui from when I was in French Polynesia itself. I learned it from UN documents, used by indigenous representatives. If this is not the correct name, and I’ve made a mistake, there’s a Contact form and you can correct me.
I’ve written about other contentious locations. I frequently use Rapa Nui instead of Easter Island. I have even written about Kashmir. I don’t write to divide; I write to show you how to find new connections. Judge for yourself why it is so controversial to merely draw cultural connections between indigenous French Polynesia and a non-Western people outside of the Pacific. Think about it.