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Time For Nz Media To Represent Pacific

Time For Nz Media To Represent Pacific

By Jacqui Stanford, an Auckland University of Technology student journalist covering the Pacific Islands Media Association (PIMA) conference

AUCKLAND (AUT Journalism/Pacific Media Watch): "When you walk in the Waitakeres you don¹t see white people. You see 'cheeky darkies'."

These words by Niu FM journalist Elma Maua encapsulated the feeling at this year¹s Pacific Islands Media Association (PIMA) conference.

She was speaking as a contestant at the annual debate, arguing that New Zealand is a Pacific nation.

Although the debate was light-hearted, the underlying message was clear - Pacific Islanders are an ingredient of New Zealand and should be represented in the national media.

"Despite the influx of Pacific journalists in recent times, our influence has been minimal," said New Zealand Herald columnist Tapu Misa in her address at the PIMA Awards.

"However, the fact that we have the numbers to organise a conference like this is impressive." The two-day conference was hosted at Auckland University of Technology (AUT) with the theme ŒStrengthening Niu Media in New Zealand". AUT is a partner institution with PIMA.

The conference comprised forums, workshops, and the annual debate, culminating with the second annual PIMA awards.

Former Fiji Deputy Prime Minister Dr Tupeni Baba and Listener editor Finlay Macdonald relaunched Pacific Journalism Review, which is now being published by AUT as an institutional journal.

This was followed by a launch of the New Zealand edition of Niue Star later that night.

PIMA¹s mission statement is to develop and nurture a strong Pacific Islands media voice, and this was reflected in the workshops and forums.

Pacific aids campaigner Maire Bopp Dupont spoke about her work and how media treats the disease.

Veteran New Zealand journalist Michael Field spoke about the Australian government¹s "spin doctor" role in the Solomon Islands and poor coverage of the Pacific region by New Zealand media.

PIMA is aiming to be a media watchdog, link Pacific media groups and encourage training and development.

In her awards night speech, Tapu Misa was positive about the organisation¹s potential. She said: "PIMA offers an opportunity for us to come together and work for one purpose. Our success as a community depends on us getting this right."

Chairperson Kalafi Moala said he was looking forward to a good year for the organisation. "This year has been a blessing indeed," he said.

Moala, the founding chair of PIMA, received the Media Freedom Award for the second year running.

The publisher and journalist is the editor of the newspaper Taimi Œo Tonga, which was banned in Tonga five times.

The need for more Pacific Island students to study media was emphasised in a workshop on Friday.

David Robie, a senior journalism lecturer at AUT, said: "We want a lot more Pacific Island and Maori students in Communication Studies."

Current Pacific Island or Maori students Kite Tuakalau, Leilani Momoisea and Terahui August spoke about their experiences as Pacific Island students at AUT.

August, a third year multimedia student, said it was difficult for Pacific Island and Maori students to get into media courses, and even harder to stay in them.

"It¹s very lonely if you¹re a Maori or Pacific Island student, because you¹re the only one there," she said.

Tuakalau and Momoisea are both current holders of the AUT/PIMA scholarships.

The PIMA scholarship was introduced last year as a joint AUT /PIMA initiative.

Each year the $10,000 award is given to two Pacific Island students to cover tuition fees for a year.

The 2004 recipients will be announced later this month.


PACIFIC MEDIA WATCH ONLINE http://www.pmw.c2o.org

PACIFIC MEDIA WATCH is an independent, non-profit, non-government organisation comprising journalists, lawyers, editors and other media workers, dedicated to examining issues of ethics, accountability, censorship, media freedom and media ownership in the Pacific region. Launched in October 1996, it has links with the Journalism Program at the University of the South Pacific, Bushfire Media based in Sydney, Journalism Studies at the University of PNG (UPNG), the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism (ACIJ), Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand, and Community Communications Online (c2o).

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