By Gladys Hartson, Pacific Media Watch
Members of the Pacific community have come out in support of a popular radio announcer after he was stood down from his weekend show Talanoa Pacific on Thursday.
According to a blog, Efeso Collins, an announcer for Radio 531pi posted a notice on Pacificeyewitness website stating he received an email from the programme director of Pacific Media Network, Pere Matai, outlining serious matters had arisen since they last spoke two weeks ago, and as a result he would be rested from presenting this weekend.
The handling of $4.8 million dollars of taxpayer’s money granted to an organization called Pacific Islands Economic Development Agency Ltd (PEDA) created huge debate amongst the listeners. (See Pacific Scoop analysis for more on this issue.)
Collins said he and many in his community wanted answers from the government and PEDA.
Collins and his colleague, host of Island time and head announcer Mary Pahi, posted blogs on the website regarding the PEDA issue expressing their difference of opinion on the matter. (See Collins’ entry) and (Pahi’s entry).
The polarised positions expressed on the website demonstrate how sensitive this issue (of PEDA receiving almost $5 million of Government funds over the next four years) has become.
“It saddens me it has come to this, and somehow I have become embroiled in this issue,” Collins added.
A masters graduate from Auckland University, he said: "If we as Pacific media are not prepared to ask the ‘hard questions’ who will? We need to stop pandering to those who control the funding”.
Pacific Media Network receives government funding.
"What kind of a message does that give our Pacific broadcasters/journalists? If you’re not nice to people of influence when you conduct an interview, they won’t continue to fund us?” he said.
Collins would not go into the details why he has been rested from the show. According to his blog he would await the outcome and would be seeking legal advice.
Pere Maitai via text said he will not be commenting on an internal staff matter.
Pacific Scoop contacted Chair of the National Pacific Radio Trust, Tino Perira, seeking clarity on why Collins was stood down from the radio station. Perira said he was aware of the issue but would not comment stating only that it is a management issue and that Radio 531pi’s management will deal with it.
Gladys Hartson is a Graduate Diploma in Journalism student at AUT University and is working with Pacific Media Watch.
More on Pacific Scoop:
Analysis: Questions over NZ Govt's funds to PEDA raise serious concerns
Govt's $4.8million package to Pacific EDA questioned