Telling the real stories behind ‘plastic’ Pacific islanders and stereotypes

A look at the lives of Pacific islanders who choose to ignore or struggle to embrace their heritage. Video: Plastic Polynesia trailer

By Leilani Sitagata

Two final-year communication studies students at Auckland University of Technology decided for their end-of-year project to film a mini documentary about what it means to be a “plastic” islander.

The television majors Elijah Fa’afiu and Jamey Bailey brought it all to life to create Plastic Polynesia.

The nickname “plastic” refers to a person who is out of touch with their culture and perhaps cannot understand or speak their language.

READ MORE Dear Heather, we’re really talented, empowered – and we’re not leeches!

The film looks at the lives of Pacific Islanders who choose to ignore or struggle to embrace their heritage and follows a student learning Samoan for the first time.

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Fa’afiu says he was passionate to pursue this concept because he can relate to being “plastic”.

AUT filmmakers Jamey Bailey (producer) and Elijah Fa’afiu (director). Image: Leilani Sitagata/PMC

Plastic identity
“I identify with the term ‘plastic’ and it turns out that I’m not the only one who does,” he says.

“I wanted to explain this word and how it differentiates Pacific Islanders from each other.”

He says that over the years he has not been in touch with his Samoan and Māori heritage, and this is the case for a lot of Kiwis.

‘Disconnected from roots’
“I feel I’ve been disconnected from my roots, that wasn’t intentional – it was just how things ended up.”

Alongside Fa’afiu was producer Bailey, who was in a similar boat to him when it comes to being connected to his culture.

“I label myself as ‘plastic’ because it’s an easy scapegoat.

“I don’t speak the language, I don’t do church, I don’t do all the things I’m supposed to do.”

He says that this film was an opportunity to challenge and explore what exactly “we are meant to do”.

Part of the documentary follows university student Rashad Stanley as he undertakes the journey to learning the Samoan language.

Not knowing
This was important to Fa’afiu as he says he can relate to the experience of not knowing such a big part of his culture.

“Being born in New Zealand, my parents did take me to church and speak Samoan to me, but I never really absorbed the language.”

Plastic Polynesia also touches on the idea of how Pacific Islanders are stereotyped.

Bailey says he strongly believes this generation is the one that’s working hard to break the misconceptions surrounding all types of people.

“Growing up, the common stereotypes are that we’re only at school for the sports and music, and mainstream media has been a big part of the way Pacific Islanders are perceived.

“With Plastic Polynesia, we’re trying to break those stereotypes and show that there are Polynesians out there who are different.”

The film also includes an interview with Hibiscus and Ruthless’ Nafanuatele Lafitaga Mafaufau Peter as well as many students.

Bailey says the message is key and he hopes the audience will catch on to the importance behind the story they share.

“In terms of face value, a lot of people just see brown skin and we want to tell that stories don’t get heard.

“Our goal by the end of this is to bring awareness that we can’t get grouping people, we’re all individual.”

Leilani Sitagata is a reporter on the Pacific Media Centre’s Pacific Media Watch freedom project.

  • Plastic Polynesia will be screened during the AUT Shorts film festival being held at The Vic in Devonport on November 22
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Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Refugee, migrant culinary delights boost new diversity cookbook

Students who volunteered for the AUT migrant cookbook include Leilani Sitagata (from left), Amina Mohamed and Tiana Lambert, who spoke of their experience last night. Image: Rahul Bhattarai/PMC

By Rahul Bhattarai

Students and staff gathered in Auckland last night to launch a cookbook with a difference celebrating culinary delights from refugee or immigrant families – and to taste some of the special 15 recipes.

The recipes in Tastes of Home, published by Auckland University of Technology to support an educational scholarship for refugees, were an instant success.

Chapters and the recipes have been provided by volunteer student contributors drawing on their family culinary secrets.

READ MORE: Diversity at Auckland University of Technology

“These recipes have been tested and standardised by the culinary art students for the cook book,” says Lian-Hong Brebner, a diversity manager at AUT and one of the co-editors with Professor Alison McIntosh.

“This is more then a cookbook, it’s about celebration of AUT’s diversity that refugee and migrant background students bring to us, and their their tradition of hospitality,” says Brebner.

Foods made from the recipe of the cookbook out on display for customers to taste. Image: Rahul Bhattarai/PMC

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Encouraging diversity
AUT as a university encourages diversity and was also the first university in New Zealand to appoint a professor of diversity – Professor Edwina Pio.

“We are also proud to be the first and only New Zealand university to appoint a professor of diversity,” says Dr Andrew Codling, who is the head of the vice-chancellors office.

“We are proud that our students and staff are from over 100 nationalities on our campuses, and in fact over 52 percent of our staff were born overseas – and I am one of them,” says Dr Codling.

Seven percent of the staff are from the Pacific, 6 percent are Maori and 64 percent of the professional staff are female.

AUT scholarship program
Proceeds from the book sales will go towards a scholarship programme for future refugee students.

Part of a chapter in the cookbook that was contributed by AUT student journalist Leilani Sitagata. Image Rahul Bhattarai/PMC

About 50 volunteers from diverse backgrounds worked around the clock to make the book possible.

“I volunteered to be part of the project because I loved that the proceeds would be going towards a scholarship for refugees,” says Leilani Sitagata, who is a final year AUT student journalist.

“As I’m a journalism major, I knew how to write, and I love my food – so I thought why not combine the two and help write a cookbook.”

Homemade cuisines from around the world featured in the book include Afgan, Iranian, Iraqi, Kurdish, Maori and Samoan and many other dishes.

On launch day, 38 copies were sold with a further 100 copies already being pre-ordered online.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Flavourz film festival wows audience with ethnicity, pollution, fun films

Banabans of Rabi: A Story of Survival – the trailer.

By Rahul Bhattarai

Nine years on the popular Flavourz Film Festival has grown and grown … with more than 170 people watching the screening of 15 student documentary and feature productions at Auckland University of Technology at the weekend.

The short films – ranging between 2min30sec and 12min – featured topics as wide ranging as birdlife, culture, ethnicity, matchmaking, migration, plastic pollution, racism, the Banabans of Rabi and the closure of Hato Petera College. Some were quirky and funny.

FLAVOURZ FILM FESTIVAL 2018

“Flavourz has evolved over the years. In the beginning it had a small screening and a small lecture hall, now we have got about a 170 people here today,” said senior lecturer and film maker Jim Marbrook.

READ MORE: Banabans of Rabi short climate change documentary chosen for Nuku’alofa

Part of the audience at the Flavourz Film Festival screening at Auckland University of Technology. Image: David Robie/PMC

“it’s a showcase of some of our really interesting work with the focus on diversity and culture.”

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Marbrook was one of the founders of the festival along with Tui O’Sullivan, Isabella Rasch and Pacific Media Centre director Professor David Robie.

“We got the idea to put on a film festival to celebrate diversity,” said Marbrook

AUT has one of the New Zealand’s leading school of communications with the latest facilities and highly experienced staff for the students to learn from.


A Migrant’s Story, by Irra Lee, one of the films screened at the festival. Trailer

‘Lucky students’
“In a Bachelors of Communications Studies programme students are very lucky because we have a very strong journalism school and we have screen production courses,” said James Nicholson, curriculum leader and a senior lecturer for television and screen production.

AUT filmmakers Tom Blessen (left) and Hele Ikimotu … telling the Pacific stories away from the mainstream. Image: Rahul Bhattarai/PMC

An 11 minute postgraduate documentary, Banabans of Rabi: A Story of Survival, by Hele Ikimotu and Blessen Tom, made as part of the three-year-old Bearing Witness climate change project, was one of the films screened.

It has been accepted as an entry in the Nuku’alofa Film Festival in Tonga later this month.

Banabans of Rabi shows the impact of climate change and on the remote northern island of Rabi in particular.

Hele Ikimotu was inspired to make this film in order to explore his own unknown Kiribati culture and the struggles of the people on the island where the Banaban people had been relocated by the British colonial government.

Such voices are seldom heard in the mainstream media.

“When it comes to climate change it is only about the bigger cities and the islands,” Ikimotu said.

‘Telling the stories’
“In Fiji, it’s always about Nadi and Suva but not so much about the outer islands. So, I thought this would be a good opportunity to tell the stories of those who don’t get the opportunity to talk about what they are going through.

“I had never really experienced that side of my culture, never knew too much about it,” he said.

“So when the opportunity to go to Fiji came with the Pacific Media Centre, I used it to go to Rabi. I knew it was a difficult trip but if I put in some effort it could happen.”

The trip from Suva to Rabi was 15 hours long.

“it was a very gruesome trip, with up to seven hours in a motor vehicle at a stretch, and a boat ride,” said Blessen Tom.

Banabans of Rabi: A Story of Survival will be screened at the 2018 Nuku’alofa Film Festival in Tonga on November 22/23.


The inaugural Flavourz film festival in 2009.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Lifetime of devotion to Māori and Pacific student success

Tui O’Sullivan (right) with Tagaloatele Peggy Fairbairn-Dunlop at the Pacific Media Centre recently when retiring. Image: Del Abcede/PMC

PROFILE: By Leilani Sitagata

Educator and kuia Tui O’Sullivan has recently retired from Auckland University of Technology after close to 40 years of service.

Born and breed up North in the heart of Ahipara, she says choosing to do tertiary study was the right choice for her.

“Growing up as a young girl you were told to pick from three directions – academic, commercial or homecraft,” O’Sullivan says.

“I never had a burning desire to become a teacher, but it just seemed like the best fit for me to follow that path.”

Over the years, O’Sullivan (Te Rarawa and Ngati Kahu) gained a Bachelor of Arts, Master’s in Education (Māori), a Diploma in Ethics and a Diploma in Teaching.

“Coming from a town where you didn’t know names, but everyone was Aunty or Uncle, Auckland was by far a change of scenery.”

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O’Sullivan was appointed as the first Māori academic at AUT, then AIT.

Tui O’Sullivan at her recent Auckland University of Technology farewell on Ngā Wai o Horotiu marae. Image: Del Abcede/PMC

Evening classes
She says she taught evening classes on literacy twice a week and had many people from the Pacific wanting to improve their written and oral skills.

“A number of them were members of church groups who wanted to polish up for competitions involving writing and speaking.”

Alongside the night classes, O’Sullivan was involved in the formation of the newspaper Password.

“We formed a newspaper which explained certain things about living in New Zealand, among other things like the Treaty of Waitangi and Māori culture.”

O’Sullivan says there was an increasing number of immigrants to her English classes and Password helped with their immersion into a new culture.

While working in general studies, she says she helped teach communications English and basic skills to full time students, predominantly young men.

However, women started to come along to O’Sullivan’s teaching and the numbers slowly grew.

Tui O’Sullivan (right) with fellow foundation Pacific Media Centre advisory board member Isabella Rasch. Image: Del Abcede/PMC

First women’s group
O’Sullivan was part of the creation of the very first women’s group on campus.

“A senior lecturer approached a couple of us women staff asking if we could keep an eye out for the young women and be an ear should they need that.

“From there Women on Campus developed which looked after the interests of women students and staff members.”

She said they switched the name of the group over the years because what they originally chose didn’t have a ring to it.

“We were called Women’s Action Group for a while, but WAG didn’t sound too good.”

Another first for the university was the establishment of the Ngā Wai o Horotiu marae in 1997 which Tui said she’ll forever remember.

When the marae was officially opened more than 1000 people turned up to celebrate the momentous occasion.

Students and staff at the Pacific Media Centre’s farewell for Tui O’Sullivan. Image: Del Abcede/PMC

Emphasis on diversity
The marae opening signified AUT acknowledging the Treaty of Waitangi and further emphasised the diversity within the university.

“The majority of staff here have had this willingness and openness to support and promote success for Māori and Pacific students.”

When asked what was one of the most gratifying times for her during her time at AUT, O’Sullivan simply says applauding the young people who cross the stage.

“I always seem to end up with lots of those lolly leis because people end up with so many, and they get off-loaded to me.”

O”Sullivan says that over the years she’s never missed a graduation for her faculty regardless of how many there are.

“Seeing students wearing their kakahu or family korowai, and others who have grown to learn more about their whakapapa and their place in the world.

“Those are the most rewarding times for me.”

O’Sullivan was the equity adviser for the Faculty of Creative Technologies and lectured in Te Tiriti o Waitangi and community issues. She was also a strong advocate of the Tertiary Education Union (TEU) and a foundation member of the advisory board for AUT’s Pacific Media Centre from 2007.

She insists she hasn’t left a legacy but has been part of an ever evolving journey that AUT is going through.

Tui O’Sullivan (centre) with Pacific Media Centre director Professor David Robie and advisory board chair Associate Professor Camille Nakhid. Image: Del Abcede/PMC

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Former PCF media intern welcomes Pacific newbies on NZ exchange

Adi Anaesini Civavonovono of Fiji (left) and Elizabeth Osifelo of the Solomon Islands (both of the University of the South Pacific) against the green screen in the television studios during their visit to Auckland University of Technology this week. Behind them are the Pacific Cooperation Foundation’s Suzanne Suisuiki (partially hidden) along with AUT students Leilani Sitagata and Pauline Mago-King. Image: Del Abcede/PMC

By Rahul Bhattarai

It was a case of Pacific meets Pacific in AUT’s School of Communication Studies this week as one of the inaugural winners of the Pacific Cooperation Foundation internships welcomed this year’s new batch of four student journalists from Fiji, Samoa and Solomon Islands.

Pauline Mago-King of Papua New Guinea was a final year communication studies student in Madang when the internships began and she visited New Zealand in 2015 thanks to PCF.

Now she is a master’s degree student at Auckland University of Technology doing research into domestic violence and non-government organisation responses in her home country.

She says she knew the flexibility of the AUT programme was just right for her – “especially when you come from a country where there aren’t enough opportunities for a student to gain experience.”

AUT’s Pacific Media Centre hosted the PCF internship students and director Professor David Robie welcomed them, saying “we‘re just a small programme but with quite a reach, we have an audience of up to 20,000 on our Asia Pacific Report website”.

The PMC, with a small part-time team, covers the region with independent news as well as conducting out a discrete media research programme.

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Three of the students on the two-week internship in New Zealand come from the University of the South Pacific and the student newspaper Wansolwara – Elizabeth Osifelo (Solomon Islands), Salote Qalubau and Adi Anaesini Civavonovono (both from Fiji). The fourth, Yumi Talaave, is from the National University of Samoa.

The interns toured AUT’s communications facilities, including the state-of-the-art television studies and control room.

Pacific Media Centre student journalist Rahul Bhattarai and University of Samoa’s meet King Kong on the AUT television studio green screen. Image: David Robie/PMC

They then visited AUT’s journalism newsroom and media centre.

The students also watched the final editing stages of a short current affairs documentary by two AUT students involved in the PMC’s Bearing Witness climate change project.

Hele Ikimotu and Blessen Tom travelled to Rabi Island in the north of Fiji in April and filmed the documentary Banabans of Rabi: A Story of Survival in the hope of spreading awareness about the impact of climate change in the Pacific.

Their lecturers, Jim Marbrook and David Robie, hope to enter the documentary into film festivals and an earlier video by the students as part of the project gives a glimpse of life on the island.

Suzanne Suisuiki, communications manager of PCF, says these kinds of internships provide the opportunity for Pacific students to gain wider exposure and better understanding of media.

“We wanted interns who had a sense of appreciation of the media industry,” she said.

She plans to next year expand to the wider Pacific region, including Tonga and Papua New Guinea.

Two students were also selected from New Zealand to go to Fiji and Samoa.

The Pacific Cooperation Foundation internship students with Pacific Media Centre students and staff at AUT this week. Image: Del Abcede/PMC

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Bearing Witness students win big at AUT communications studies awards

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Headline: Bearing Witness students win big at AUT communications studies awards

Spasifik Magazine’s Laumata Lauano (from left) with winners Julie Cleaver, Kendall Hutt, and Pacific Media Centre’s chair Associate Professor Camille Nakhid and Storyboard donor Professor David Robie (rear) at last night’s AUT communication studies awards. Image: Del Abcede/PMC

By Jean Bell in Auckland

Bearing Witness climate change project students won big last night at the annual awards ceremony for AUT’s School of Communication Studies last night.

Julie Cleaver and Kendal Hutt took out the Spasifik Magazine Prize and Pacific Media Centre Storyboard Award for Diversity Reporting for their work on the Bearing Witness climate change project last year.

Hele Ikimotu was awarded the John Foy Memorial Award for broadcast journalism and will be flying to Fiji tomorrow to continue the Bearing Witness climate change project this year.

READ MORE: Bearing Witness climate project stories

‘Great honour’
Cleaver and Hutt both travelled to Fiji last year where they created a multimedia feature on the Fijian village of Tukuraki, which was hit by a deadly landslide and two cyclones in the space of five years.

The project also won the Dart Asia-Pacific Prize for Journalism and Trauma at the annual Ossie Awards for Student Journalism at Newcastle, NSW, last December.

-Partners-

Cleaver is now editor of Debate Magazine and Hutt is a reporter with the North Shore Times.

Hutt said it was a great honour to receive this award.

“This award is not just our award, it is also Tukuraki’s award for letting us come up to the community and let us tell their story. I think it had only been told in Fijian media and ABC Australia,” said Hutt.

‘Journalism highlight’
Cleaver said her time in Fiji was a moving experience. “It was a privilege to be a journalist and hear these people’s stories. When else would you get to hear these people’s personal testimonies from someone who has been through so much as well.”

“The Pacific Media Centre has been so supportive to both of us throughout this process. Thanks so much to Professor David Robie and everyone else involved,” said Cleaver.

“The trip was a journalism highlight. This is why I wanted to get into journalism.”

“It’s so awesome that Dr Robie is driving this PMC project. It needs someone passionate to keep it going and it’s such a privilege to be a part of that.”

John Foy Memorial Award for broadcast journalism Hele Ikimotu with his parents Grace and Jone at last night’s AUT communication studies awards. Image: Del Abcede/PMC

Ikimotu ‘excited’
Bearing Witness climate change project participant Hele Ikimotu received the John Foy Memorial Award.

Louise Matthews, curriculum leader of AUT’s journalism programme, presented the award to Ikimotu and said he “aced” his undergraduate courses and stayed on to do postgraduate study this year.

Ikimotu thanked God, the John Foy Memorial Trust sponsors and his “supportive and inspiring” journalism tutors in his acceptance speech.

“I’m so excited and nervous to go over there. I come from an ancestry of storytellers. There are times I doubted I had the ability to be a good storyteller but this award has affirmed I have what it takes, and I’m so excited to see where journalism takes me.

“I’m so excited to use it as a platform for my people and continue being a voice for the Pacific. I was born in the Islands and I know my family back home are proud that I’m doing it and representing them.”

Ikimotu leaves for Fiji tomorrow with fellow participant Blessen Tom to carry on this year’s version of the Bearing Witness project.

Ikimotu and Tom will be heading on a two-week climate change mission to the main island of Viti Levu where they will be interviewing local people who are directly affected by the devastating effects of climate change in the Pacific.

Ikimotu and Tom will be searching for stories, interviewing people directly affected by climate change and reporting directly for Asia Pacific Report, Wansolwara and other media.

Tagata Pasifika’s master of ceremonies John Pulu, an AUT graduate and past winner of the Storyboard for diversity journalism, entertained the audience with his witty remarks. Image: Del Abcede/PMC.

Full 2017 School of Communication Studies awards:
School of Communication Studies Award for Top Student in the Certificate in Communication Studies: Schumacher Liuvaie

School of Communication Studies Award for Top Year One Bachelor of Communication Studies: Amy Wang

School of Communication Studies Award for Top Year Two Bachelor of Communication Studies: Jamie Ensor

School of Communication Studies Award for Excellence in Communication Theory: Adam Szentes

Communication Studies Postgraduate Scholarships: India Fremaux, Yulia Khan, Malini Radkrishna, Jayakrishnan Sreekumar

Dean’s Award for Best Postgraduate Diploma in Communication Studies: Elizabeth Osborne

Dean’s Award for Excellence in Master of Communication Studies – Thesis: Ximena Smith

Oceania Media’s Spasifik Magazine Prize and the Pacific Media Centre’s Storyboard Award for Diversity Reporting: Julie Cleaver and Kendall Hutt

The Radio Bureau Award for Top of Research Project: Radio: Georgina Cain-Treleaven

The Radio Bureau Award for Top Radio Student: Maxene London

John Foy Memorial Award for Excellence in Broadcast Journalism: Hele Ikimotu

Bauer Award for Excellence in Magazine Journalism: Nicole Barratt

New Zealand Herald Award for Top Post Graduate Diploma Student in Creative Practice – Journalism: Arun Jeram

National Business Review Award for the Outstanding Graduate in the BCS Journalism Major: Nicole Barratt

New Zealand Geographic award for Excellence in Photojournalism: Adam Szentes

Public Relations Institute of New Zealand Award for the Top Year 2 Public Relations Student: Jamie Ensor

The winners of the Public Relations Institute of New Zealand Paul Dryden Tertiary Award 2017: Boyan Buha, Jodealyn Cadacio, Simon Cooper, and Georgia Ward

Highly Commended Public Relations Institute of New Zealand Paul Dryden Tertiary Award 2017: Abby Berry, Emma Hilton, Morgan MacFadyen

Public Relations Institute of New Zealand President’s Award for the Top Academic Student in the Public Relations Major: Adam Szentes

The Postgraduate Public Relations Global Virtual Team Winner (2017): Alex Ubels

FCB Change Agency Award for Digital Media Excellence: Stefanee Chua

School of Communication Studies joint Award for Academic Excellence in the Creative Industries Major: Kaylah Burke and Laura Reid

QMS Awards for Advertising Creativity:
QMS Art Director of the Year – Holly Smith
QMS Account Executive of the Year – Ella Bilham
QMS Team of the Year – Will Macdonald and Adam Ramsdale

Francis Porterfield Memorial Award for Excellence in Multicamera Production: Steven Yee

MediaWorks Award for Best Producer: McKay Carroll

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France committed to backing ePOP Pacific climate storytelling

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Headline: France committed to backing ePOP Pacific climate storytelling

French Ambassador to Fiji Sujiro Seam takes a selfie with ePOP participants at the University of the South Pacific last week. Image: Wansolwara News

By Elizabeth Osifelo in Suva

The French government is committed to the fight against climate change in the Pacific and hopes programmes such as the eParticipatory Observers Project (ePOP) will shed light on the impact of this global phenomenon in the region.

Ambassador of France to Fiji Sujiro Seam made the assurance during a visit to the journalism newsroom at the University of the South Pacific in Suva last week to observe the progress made at the conclusion of an ePOP workshop, which focused on producing short videos about the perceptions and impact of climate and environmental changes on Pacific Island populations.

Seam said ePOP targeted young people and gave them an opportunity to share stories on climate change and environmental issues taking place in their communities.

“I am very happy that we have this programme because it is not only beneficial for the youth but it also focuses on climate change,” he said.

“Since COP21 and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, France tries to stay at the forefront of this fight against climate change.

“With the ePOP training, there are some good tools for the participants’ personal development and their professional career.

-Partners-

“I think it is important today to master these techniques and knowhow to tell a story in different formats.”

French actors
Seam said it was also appropriate for him as Ambassador of France in Suva to support the initiative which was designed and led by French actors.

Ten students from USP, including a group of journalism students, were part of the four-day intensive training ePOP workshop which enabled them to maximise their reach through video storytelling and develop a brand narrative across multiple social media platforms.

One of the training facilitators was Julien Pain, former editor-in-chief of France24’s Observers, a citizen journalism project he set up in 2007. Prior to that, Pain was head of the new media desk at the Paris-based global media freedom agency Reporters Without Borders.

ePOP is a concept imagined by RFI Planète Radio (France Media Monde Group) and developed with the IRD (National French Research institute for Sustainable Development), in collaboration with many partners including the PIDF (Pacific Island Development Forum), L’Office des postes et télécommunications (OPT) in New Caledonia, the Fondation Expéditions Tara, la Fondation de France , la Fondation des Alliances françaises et l’Organisation internationale de la francophonie (OIF).

Two Auckland University of Technology students, Hele Ikimotu and Blessen Tom, are travelling to Fiji later this month on the Pacific Media Centre’s Bearing Witness climate change project and will be working with USP students and staff.

Elizabeth Osifelo is a final year student journalist at the University of the South Pacific.

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RNZ features student docos on love, health, tapu and Pacific reflections

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Headline: RNZ features student docos on love, health, tapu and Pacific reflections

Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz

AUT radio student Shae Osborne in the RNZ studio. Image: AUT

By Laura Williams

Exploring what it’s like to look for love as a 40-something-year-old woman, a grandfather recovering from a stroke, a Pacific grandmother’s recollections, the power of tapu and the life of a bushman are just some of the radio documentaries made by Auckland University of Technology students broadcast on national radio this month.

RNZ National featured seven short documentaries made by final-year Bachelor of Communication Studies students in its Summer Report series.

Students majoring in Radio were given the opportunity to produce a 10-minute radio documentary, on any subject, as a final project for the Radio Performance paper. The paper teaches students how to plan, write, produce and present a radio show or radio documentary.

The paper leader and senior lecturer, Trevor Plant, from the School of Communication Studies, said he was impressed at how the students embraced the project.

“The group of radio majors were amazing this year – talented, passionate, and itching to put into use the practical radio skills they’ve learned,” Plant said.

“They really impressed me with these docos. There was a range of fascinating topics, stories and characters – and some excellent audio story-telling, genuine emotion, and fresh, original angles,” he added.

AUT is the only university to offer this opportunity for students. The relationship between RNZ and AUT has developed over several years.

It started when a guest lecturer from RNZ, impressed with the topics students had chosen for their assignments, asked to hear the finished documentaries. He was so taken by the documentaries, he asked to play them on RNZ National.

‘Intelligence and curiosity’
This year, the documentaries were selected by Justin Gregory, RNZ senior producer – Podcasts and Series / Eyewitness.

“I’m always impressed by the intelligence and curiosity of the AUT radio students and this year has been no different. Every one of them demonstrated a keen and sophisticated sense of the possibilities of sound, and a keen ear for a good story,” Gregory said.

The seven projects selected were broadcast on RNZ National, New Zealand’s most popular radio station, reaching an audience of up to 535,000 people each week.

“With the help of our tutors, and a few all-nighters, a lucky few of us were chosen to have our work played on RNZ National. This made the many hours of planning, interviewing and editing all worth it!” said Shae Osborne, a student whose documentary was selected.

“The feeling of having your own blood, sweat and tears played on your car radio and knowing that when you laugh, others all around New Zealand are laughing with you, is indescribable,” Shae added.

Documentaries broadcast:

  • In Mid-Love Crisis, Shae Osborne tells the story of a 40-something year-old woman who is looking for love.
  •  Demi Arbuckle talks to forestry workers in Life of a Bushman.
  •  Tim Belin looks at cosplay in Is this Just Fantasy?
  • In Tapu, Liam Edkins explores the power of his taonga.
  •  In My Muddled Mind, Hayley Colquhoun tells the story of a granddad beginning his recovery from a stroke.
  •  Nayte Matai’a-Davidson tells stories from 1970s Grey Lynn in What a Time to be Tinted.
  •  In The Road to a Ribbon, Molly Dagger goes to a calf show.

The AUT documentaries will also be featured on the RNZ National website.