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Kalafi Moala Wins Media Freedom Award


Kalafi Moala Wins Media Freedom Award

By Sebastian van der Zwan, an Auckland University of Technology student journalist covering the PIMA conference

Kalafi Moala won the Media Freedom Award for the second year in a row at the Pacific Media Awards last night.

The Taimi ‘o Tonga publisher and the rest of the newspaper’s staff were awarded the prize in Auckland for their struggle for media freedom in what has been an especially difficult year.

Judged by an independent Auckland University of Technology media panel, this year’s awards were presented by Niva Retimanu and JaeD Victor.

The Auckland-based newspaper, described by the judges as “an icon in the Pacific”, has successfully fought off five bans by the Tongan government.

“The long-term outcome for media freedom is critical not only for Tonga, but for other countries in the region, including New Zealand,” the judges said.

The judges praised the newspaper’s staff, especially those working in Tonga, for their determination and courage in their fight for media freedom, and for being an inspiration for others in the Pacific.

Freelance cameraman Frank ‘Atu received a highly commended award in the same category for his coverage for TV3 of an illegal trade in dolphins from the Solomon Islands.

The judges praised the former Fiji heavyweight boxing champion for his “initiative and courage in filming in dangerous conditions” in mid-July 2003, and commended him and reporter Ingrid Leary for their role in exposing a “cruel trade in risky circumstances”.

‘Atu was attacked and threatened in his attempts to get footage, and both he and Leary were arrested while filming a cargo plane used to transport the dolphins.

Sandra Kailahi was presented with the Television Award for directing, scripting and researching a special TVNZ Tagata Pasifika documentary programme, Diabetes – The Silent Killer.

The judges described the programme as an “excellent and inspiring piece of television” and commended it for its “warmly human and honest” story-telling about a sensitive subject.

“But the programme’s main strength was its clear focus on what is being done by Pacific Islanders themselves to tackle the root causes of the illness.”

Awards were not made in two categories that received only single nominations – Print and Radio Broadcasting.

However, the judges complimented the Te Puutake Radio Show and also Taimi ‘o Tonga deputy editor ‘Ulu’alo Po’uhila for breaking a news story about a vanishing Tongan rugby team that stirred national headlines in September.

Awards were not made in two other categories because of a lack of nominations. The annual Pacific Media Awards are presented by the Pacific Islands Media Association (PIMA) to encourage excellence in New Zealand-based Pacific media. It is the second year the awards have been presented and Pacific media people were called on to make more nominations for next year.

The judges were journalism curriculum leader Susan Boyd-Bell and senior journalism lecturer David Robie, of AUT’s School of Communication Studies, and Alfred Schuster, of AUT’s Community Partnerships.

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