Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Key US Pacific affairs official visits Pacific Media Centre

Pacific Media Centre

Deputy Assistant Secretary (DAS) Frankie Reed, of the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs at the US Department of State, has paid a visit to the Pacific Media Centre at AUT University. She met PMC director associate professor David Robie and several project journalists and students involved in the centre. After early studies in journalism and communication herself, Reed has a keen interest in the state of the media in the region and in a free press. After a general introduction to the work of the centre by Dr Robie, co-editor Selwyn Manning gave a rundown on the new project Pacific Scoop and its development as an independent media "hub" for the region while masters student and contributing editor Josephine Latu talked about the Pacific Media Watch database. Graduate Diploma in Journalism student Gladys Hartson, who has just joined the PMW project, joined the group. Also involved in the wide-ranging talks about the region's media and politics were US Consul General Randy Berry and Public Affairs Adviser Phil McKenna.

Pictured: US Consul-General Randy Berry (from left), PMC director Dr David Robie, DAS Frankie Reed, Pacific Scoop's Selwyn Manning, and Pacific Media Watch's Josephine Latu and Gladys Hartson. Photo: Phil McKenna/US Embassy

Saturday, March 27, 2010

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.

See also: Budding Māori, Pasifika filmmakers now have sights on media industry

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

New PMC book celebrates Solomons women achievers

By Josephine Latu: Pacific Media Centre

When Solomon Islanders at the launch of Being the First were each handed a copy of the book, the general reaction was one of “awe”.

The book is the first ever to document the lives of leading Solomon Islands women from their own point of view, and the first published historical account of achievements by local women over the past 50 years.

It will be launched in New Zealand later today at AUT University.

“They all kind of picked it up and held it close to them – bringing it to their chest. It was quite emotional,” says Suzanne Bent-Gina in Honiara, describing how women responded when given a copy of the book to keep – free.

Bent-Gina, deputy director of the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands’ (RAMSI) Machinery of Government programme, helped organise the book project as part of its component on women in government.

A former Prime Minister and current Solomon Islands Speaker of Parliament, Sir Peter Kenilorea, introduced the book to a packed house, where many were village women who came in the capital for the International Women’s Day celebrations.

Five of the 14 women featured in the book, along with the sister of the late Phyllis Taloikwai, also profiled, read extracts from their chapters.

Emotional moments
“They were all very emotional and proud when they spoke,” says AUT’s professor Marilyn Waring of the Institute of Public Policy, who co-edited the manuscript with Malaita-born Dr Alice Aruhe’eta Pollard.

The two thought of the book idea in 2008 while discussing how to get Solomon Islands academic theses from Australian and New Zealand universities back to the islands for local readership.

“There are hardly any books written by Solomon Islanders out there. There are anthropological books, travel guides, photographic books – but all written by outsiders,” says Waring.

“Some [Solomon Islands]‘big men’ have written books, but not much information about women. These women who were previously hidden from history are now on public record.”

The pioneering volume includes personal life stories of 14 women, many who grew up poor but went on to break barriers as politicians, heads of government departments, and community workers.

Ruth Liloqula tells how she was born outside her village in a bush, took care of orphans at her boarding school at age 11, then had her first taste of activism when she and others marched in protest against unfair government scholarship selections.

Liloqua was the first female Secretary to Cabinet and is now the Permanent Secretary of Lands, Housing and Survey, and outspoken about cultural attitudes towards gender roles.

‘Average woman’
“[Women] see themselves as subordinates. This is the main problem I see … There’s an ingrained thing that we do not assert ourselves,” she says in the book.

Ethel Sigimanu, Permanent Secretary for Women, Youth and Children’s Affairs, prefers to be treated as an “average woman”, despite her leadership role.

“I was not born with a silver spoon in my mouth, so to get where I am is not impossible. I grew up in rural places and went to rural schools. The first time I went to Pawa [Senior Primary School] my father gave me $2. I was going to be away for a whole year,” she tells in the book.

Meanwhile, in the political arena, Hilda Kari talks about the lack of support she found from male colleagues over the span of her career.

She has been the only female Member of Parliament in the Solomon Islands since 1978.

“I could not name any real men supporters – none at all,” the book quotes in her profile.

Frustrated with unequal treatment at work, Kari ran for Parliament and was voted in for three consecutive elections. After losing her seat in 2001 and 2006, she now supports a quota system to ensure women’s representation at decision making levels.

All the women acknowledged the support of their husbands, families and friends along the way.

‘Transformative experience’
Co-editor Waring, a former New Zealand MP, said putting the book together was a “transformative experience” that involved many helpers.

She and Pollard recruited ex-Public Service Commissioner Catherine Adifaka – a “known leader and someone [the women] would trust” – to conduct the interviews.

Cynthia Wickham, a Solomon Islands marine science graduate, worked from a boat out at sea, translating and transcribing the oral-centred pidgin language.

Local RAMSI staff provided technical assistance.

Being the First: Storis Blong Oloketa Mere Lo Solomon Aelan was finally published by AUT’s Pacific Media Centre for RAMSI and the Institute of Public Policy.

In an all-woman production team, the PMC’s Del Abcede designed the book and Isabella Rasch created the cover montage.

Waring is hoping to get funding for a similar project in the future.

She said that since the launch, the Solomon Islands Ministry of Education has been working to integrate the book into its secondary school curriculum for English and Social Science.

“This book has taken us another step towards the advancement of women into decision-making positions,” Sigimanu announced at the launch.

“These are ordinary women who were not born with silver spoons in their mouths. They too, have had to struggle with the challenges of life – like being able to afford to get their children to school,” she said.

“It is about people looking at where they are now, and seeing that women can indeed rise up – and can do great things for this country.”

Being the First will be launched in New Zealand today by Solomon Islands honorary consul Doreen Kuper on Level 2 of AUT’s Institute of Public Policy at 4pm.

Pictures: Top: Women in the National Women's Day march in Honiara before the book launch. Middle: Betty Fakarii signing a copy of the book; translator Cynthia Wickham, a marine science graduate. Above: Solomon Islands honorary consul Doreen Kuper with co-editors professor Marilyn Waring and Dr Alice Aruhe'eta Pollard.

Josephine Latu is a postgraduate communication studies student from Tonga at AUT University’s Pacific Media Centre who is also contributing editor of Pacific Media Watch.

The book is available online at the Pacific Media Centre and Wheelers and at good bookshops.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

NZ sponsors regional conflict reporting media forum

Pacific Media Centre

JAKARTA: Six New Zealand and Pacific delegates - including Pacific Media Centre director Associate Professor David Robie - were among journalists from across the East Asia region who gathered in Jakarta this week for a conference on reporting the "intersection of politics, religion and culture" in times of conflict.

The three-day conference was co-sponsored by the New Zealand government and the European Union.

"We have seen examples of how media reporting on sensitive issues, particularly in situations of conflict and terrorism can exacerbate tensions," said Chris Langley, New Zealand's deputy head of mission at the Embassy in Jakarta.

"This is especially the case where reporting delves into cultural and religious issues but is not well founded or balanced.

"This conference is a unique opportunity for 57 senior journalists from the region's major media outlets to step back from the daily demands of the newsroom and examine how they are reporting on security issues - what they are doing well and what could be improved."

After the opening, Langely participated throughout the conference as an observer.

The Secretary-General of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), Dr Surin Pitsuwan, opened the conference and the keynote address was given by former Indonesian Vice-President Jusuf Kalla.

"We have secured a top line-up of presenters for the conference who will speak from first-hand experience about conflict and journalism in our region," said Langley.

The first East Asian Regional Media Programme was held in Jakarta in late 2008.

A report on this week's conference will be posted on the ministry's website:

The Indonesian government and Press Council, and ASEAN were key supporters of this event.

The New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade organised the conference for journalists from the 16 member countries of the East Asia Summit, which includes New Zealand.

On the closing day of the media forum, delegates were hosted at Pesentren Darunnajah Boarding School in South Jakarta, regarded as a model of traditional Islamic education. Many delegates regarded this visit as a highlight of the week.

Pictured: Top: New Zealand Herald online reporter Eddie Gay talks to Indonesian journalists; Top Middle: Cambodian Daily reporter Phorn Bopha with Pesantren Darunnajah students; Bottom Middle: Manila Times journalist Julmunir I. Jannaral (left) with Pesantren staff; Above: PMC director Dr David Robie with Pesantren students. Photos: Pacific Media Centre

Inequality root of strife, Kalla tells media forum - Jakarta Globe

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Publishing triumph for Solomons' unwritten language

By Geraldine Coutts of Radio Australia

Compiling a book on leading women in Solomon Islands is no easy thing when a major language in the country - pijin blong Solomon, or Solomons Pidgin - is only a spoken language.

But Marilyn Waring, editor of Being the First, rallied to the cause, with the help of the subjects of the book, the country's leading women in the period following independence from Britain 32 years ago.

Professor Waring, a former New Zealand MP, learned of the lack of a record of top women when she worked with the Solomon Islands' Alice Pollard on women's issues for the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI).

She told Radio Australia's Pacific Beat: "Alice is a Solomon Islander, and became aware that there was no book at all of any kind by Solomon Islands women on Solomon Islands women."

Women selected for profiles in the book, published by AUT University's Pacific Media Centre on behalf of RAMSI, include Hilda Kari, "the first and only ever woman member of Parliament.

"About 12 of those in the book are the first women ever to become permanent secretaries or deputy permanent secretaries of government ministries," she said.

"One, Cathye Adifaka is the first woman who was a public services commissioner, and Catherine actually conducted all the interviews in Solomon Islands pidgin, which isn't a written language.

"And then we had to have that transcribed by another young Solomon Islands woman, Cynthia Wickham."

Wickham, who graduated in marine science from an Australian university,was on a boat in the Pacific when the editors sent her voice files to check.

"And she would transcribe them in pidgin, then make a first translation into English.

"And then they would come back to us to start working on them.

"As pidgin isn't a written language we actually have to debate how you spell every place name, every person's name.

"It's been a pretty unusual editing experience, but I think one of the most important things I've done in more than 30 years working outside of New Zealand."

Professor Waring said: "The public service is the single largest employer in the Solomon Islands but only six per cent of the women in the service are in senior roles.

"So we're hoping that the book provides mentoring in that way."

She believes it is going to go into the high school curriculum.

The launch in the capital, Honiara, is next Monday, March 8 - International Women's Day. A New Zealand launch will be held in Auckland on March 17.

* Being the First can be ordered online for $NZ25, from the website of the Pacific Media Centre, at AUT University.