Thakur Ranjit Singh: Pacific Media Centre
Ethnic communities need to break into the mainstream media by telling inclusive stories and giving the message that Pacific people are part of New Zealand, says a leading television producer.
Stan Wolfgramm, producer of Pacific Beat Street, says his own German, Tongan and Cook Islands heritage prepared him for a balancing act of operating in a commercial as well as a cultural environment.
He was speaking in a panel of television journalists and producers speaking about “finding the ethnic voice” at the diversity broadcasting forum in Auckland today hosted by NZ On Air in association with the Office of Ethnic Affairs.
Julia Parnell, producer of Minority Voices, said she sought to create programmes that provided opportunities to recent migrants, minorities giving their version of experiences in adjusting and settling in a new country.
She said her programmes allowed people to say what they wanted to say and to help them assimilate.
Her programmes were meant to be a springboard to promote cross-cultural understanding, assimilation and true diversity.
Bharat Jamnadas, senior reporter of Asia Downunder, said his programmes produced a magazine style, topical, relevant and entertaining - primarily targeted at the Asian communities but also to anybody wishing to get information on diverse people of New Zealand.
He said his programmes showed positive people stories with general interest.
They could easily be taken on board mainstream television programmes, but the networks tended to show “freak stories that may not be necessarily reflective of the Asian community”.
He said programmes needed to be more integrated, as ordinary stories about ordinary people should be part of the mainstream media and showed at prime time.
Jamnadas called for more diversity to be included in the mainstream media programmes.
Rachel Jean, head of drama in TV3, had ventured on making a drama series but ended up making a story on diversity depicting South Auckland, based at Otara Market, entitled, The Market.
She said drama was helpful in changing ethnic perceptions of people.
She criticised lack of funding and the programme being slotted late at night.
Her other drama, Ride with the Devil, involved a core Chinese cast and she said “true representation happens through drama”.
However, Jamnadas was critical of the programme, saying "it was too much of a stereotype with a Chinese boy racer as the lead role".
The panel argued that diversity ought to be incorporated in drama series and TV programmes.
NZ on Air was praised for organising such forums to air the views that would contribute to promoting change in funding policies to introduce more diversity in broadcast media.
Thakur Ranjit Singh is a postgraduate communication studies student attached to the Pacific Media Centre. Photo of Stan Wolfgramm and Bharat Jamnadas by Del Abcede.
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