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New Pasifika communication award created for young women

Geraldine Lopdell’s family was looking for a fitting way to celebrate a "life well lived" when they decided to set up one of Auckland University of Technology’s newest awards.

During life, Geraldine had been an excellent teacher and artist, a supportive and generous friend and a captivating storyteller with an adventurous spirit.

Her early years were spent in Tonga and Samoa where her family travelled for her father’s work, and she had a firm belief that more women’s stories and views – particularly those of Pasifika women – needed to be told and heard.

The Geraldine Lopdell Award for Diversity in Communication will encourage Pasifika women to tell their stories. The first prize will be given in April 2019, nearly one year after Geraldine’s passing. It will be set at $1,200, and is anticipated to be offered annually for an initial term of ten years.

Deciding a memorial award to support something she cared about would be a fitting way to celebrate her life, Geraldine’s partner Colin and her two daughters Alex and Anne had approached their family friend, AUT’s Professor David Robie and have since been working with the AUT Foundation to establish the award in AUT’s School of Communication Studies.

Professor Robie, who heads up AUT’s Pacific Media Centre – Te Amokura, suggested a prize be established alongside the existing Storyboard Award for Diversity Reporting.

It was decided the Pacific Media Centre, with its focus on telling ignored and ‘untold’ stories, and amplifying Pasifika women’s voices, was a natural fit for an award to celebrate this special woman’s legacy.

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