Epeli Hau'ofa was born in Papua New Guinea in 1939 to Tongan missionary parents. He went to school in Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Fiji and Australia and university in Australia and McGill in Montreal. He got his Ph. D. from the Australian National University in Canberra. After teaching at the University of Papua New Guinea he worked as a research fellow at the University of the South Pacific in Suva, Fiji. He was deputy private secretary to the King of Tonga before returning to the University of the South Pacific where he headed the Rural Development Centre, the Department of Sociology and the Oceania Centre for Arts and Culture and where his wife, Barbara, also worked. He died in 2009.