Diversity media award winner John Pulu takes pride in Tongan culture
By Tupouseini Taumoepeau: Pacific Media Centre
With a “real passion to share the rich history” of his Pacific culture, John Pulu has been awarded the Spasifik Prize and Storyboard Award for diversity journalism.
At the annual School of Communication awards evening at AUT University, Pulu was presented with the prize by the deputy editor for Spasifik magazine, Qiane Corfield-Matata. “It’s the best feeling to know that your hard work has been acknowledged and recognised by people from the industry,” says Pulu.
Pulu says that coming from South Auckland, which has always been portrayed with bad criticisms, he wanted to change that and adopt through his work a celebration of the “beautiful cultures” such as Tonga.
Graduating with a Bachelor of Communication Studies majoring in television, Pulu produced documentaries entitled The Modern Afo of Tonga and Kava Commune while working with TNews during his studies.
Corfield-Matata, who was also the first recipient to receive the award donated by Pacific Media Centre director Dr David Robie in 2006, says: “I know how hard it is to be a journalism student from the Pacific and all the effort that goes into it”.
“In the industry, we need those who are passionate and energised about telling Pacific stories and to add some balance into the mainstream media,” says Corfield-Matata. Pulu is now working for TVNZ which he says “is a dream come true” as his aspirations to work with Tagata Pasifika started when he was first introduced to the “magic of television” at a gateway programme during his years at Otahuhu College.
Guest speaker from Television New Zealand, TVNZ7 presenter Miriama Kamo, says “diversity in the New Zealand media is vital and it is important that this is reflected”.
“There is that growing appreciation from the Māori and Pacific community when their stories are being told accurately, even in the little things such as the correct spelling and pronunciation of their language,” says Kamo.
Pulu says he hopes to write and film more stories about the areas that are not celebrated as much and are yet to be explored from his Tongan culture.
“It has been a tough journey and I’m thankful for the support of my family and parents for understanding what I wanted to do and also the support of my friends, the AUT staff and TNews who have helped me through,” says Pulu. Among other awards recognising diversity, Jessica Harkins won the Scoop Media Prize for International Journalism and was presented with the award by co-editor Selwyn Manning and Sophie Johnson won the TV3 Award for Excellence in Practical Production for her documentary The Makings of a Kaitiaki.
Other awards included: Dean's Award for Excellence in Postgraduate Research - Master of Arts in Communication Studies: Anna McKessar APN National Publishing Award for the Outstanding Graduate Diploma in Journalism Student: Krista Ferguson National Business Review Aweard for the Outsatanding Graduate in the BCS Journalism Major: David Kraitzick Radio Bureau Award for Top Radio Graduate: Heidi Roberts TVNZ Award for the Television Graduate of the Year: Jenna Teague
Pictured: Top: Tupouseini Taumoepeau interviewing diversity award winner John Pulu. Middle: John Pulu ... and with his mother, Meliame, Spasifik deputy editor Qiane Corfield-Matata; and PMC director Dr David Robie on the awards night. Above: Scoop co-editor Selwyn Manning with international journalism award-winner Jessica Harkins. Photos: Del Abcede/PMC.
Tupouseini Taumoepeau is a Graduate Diploma in Journalism student at AUT University and is on attachment with the Pacific Media Centre. This story was filed for Pacific Scoop.
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