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.

-Partners-

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
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

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

-Partners-

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.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz

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.”

-Partners-

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.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

‘Victim blaming’ in latest Indonesian uni sex abuse case angers thousands

By Sri Wahyuni and Evi Mariani in Yogyakarta, Indonesia

An leading Indonesian university’s initial response to a recent sexual assault case allegedly involving two of its students has angered thousands of people, who have signed a petition demanding that the Yogyakarta institution punish the student perpetrator and the campus officials who had penalised the student victim.

In less than 24 hours, the online petition protesting against the 70-year-old Gadjah Mada University (UGM) on change.org had garnered more than 55,000 signatories by Wednesday morning, with more people signing every second to reach more than 167,000 signatories by mid-afternoon today.

“We demand that the UGM rector, the advisory board and the Research, Technology and Higher Education Ministry to strengthen regulations on preventing sexual assault and law enforcement against sex offenders,” the petition states as one of its demands.

READ MORE: An alumna at UGM appeals to the university to be a pioneer against sexual abuse

A separate call to a rally on Thursday has been circulating on social media to demand that the university thoroughly investigate the case and create a safe campus environment.

The call says that UGM is facing “a sexual violence emergency”, pointing out that the latest case was not the university’s first and that UGM has not been siding with victims.

-Partners-

On November 5, Balairung published an investigative report based on the testimony of a female student under the pseudonym Agni, who gave the UGM student magazine permission to publish the full details of her account.

Agni said that a fellow student had assaulted her during a community service project (KKN) at a Maluku village on June 30, 2017. The KKN is a kind of field school programme that lasts several months, during which the students live with local families in the target village.

Homestay lodging
Agni said she was visiting a villager until late evening at their home where fellow KKN student “HS” was staying, so she decided to spend the night at HS’ homestay and return to her own lodging in the morning.

They had to share a single room that night, Agni said, but that they were separated by some distance in the room. She also said she slept fully clothed and still in her headscarf.

Early the following morning, she said she felt HS groping her, opening her top, kissing her breasts and inserting his fingers in her genitalia. She froze in momentary shock until she felt pain that prompted her to yell at HS, “What are you doing!”

Agni said she immediately reported the incident to the KKN supervisor and the UGM Community Service Department (DKPM), which managed the programme. The university officials cut short HS’ programme and sent him back to Yogyakarta, but Agni said they also blamed her for the incident, with one official telling her to “repent”, reported Balairung.

Agni said that after the assault, she often felt scared at night and ended up staying awake all night. She also had suicidal thoughts, she said as quoted by Balairung.

In November 2017, Agni learned that she received a C for her KKN assignment, while her peers on the same programme received an A or a B. Agni said she asked about the reason for her low grade, and that the KKN management responded that she had to share the blame for the incident that “embarrassed UGM” in front of the local villagers.

In the Balairung article, a university official who declined to be named said that the student press should not be in a rush to call Agni a victim. “Like a cat given salted fish, it will at least sniff it and might even eat the fish, right?” Balairung quoted the official as saying in reference to Agni.

Low grade reported
In December 2017, Agni reported the C she received for her KKN assignment and the circumstances surrounding it to her academic department, the Social and Political Sciences Faculty (Fisipol).

The Fisipol’s cooperation, alumni and research deputy dean, Poppy Sulistyaning Winanti, and the deputy dean for academics and student affairs, Wawan Mas’udi, followed up on her case to the top administrative level.

An inter-departmental independent investigation team was formed that recommended Agni’s KKN grade be revise from C to A/B. The team also recommended that the perpetrator write an apology and attend a mandatory counseling session for sexual abusers.

On Tuesday, in response to the Balairung article, Fisipol UGM posted a statement on its Instagram account, @fisipolugm, reiterating its commitment to “side with victim”.

“With this, Fisipol UGM states that we side with the survivor to find justice and a thorough solution to the problem,” the statement said.

It also said that steps had been taken to deal with “Agni’s” case, including a letter it sent to the rector on December 22, 2017, that asked the university to manage the case thoroughly.

Fisipol said that the rector arranged a closed meeting with relevant parties in response to its letter, and agreed during the meeting to set up an investigation team that involved several departments. The rector also agreed to sanction the DKPM officials for their “ignorance” in their initial handling of the incident until “the survivor” reported the case to Fisipol.

Trauma counselling
During the same meeting, Fisipol said it agreed to engage psychologists to provide trauma counseling for “the survivor”.

The statement continued that, after an intensive investigation, the team submitted its recommendations to the rector on July 20, 2018, which included punishment for the perpetrator, protection and support for the victim and improvements to managing the KKN programme.

“This is why Fisipol UGM is pushing for a thorough and speedy management of the case by implementing the follow-up measures as recommended by the investigation team,” the statement said, ending with a call to all parties to create a campus that was free from sexual abuse.

Separately, UGM public relations and protocol head Ariani said the university would continue its work to make sure that the victim received protection and justice.

“Next, UGM will soon take the necessary real steps to take the case to the legal domain,” Ariana said in a statement issued on Tuesday.

Other UGM cases
In 2016, a sexual abuse case that involved several female victims among Fisipol students rocked the university. The perpetrator, EH, was a respected lecturer and the head of the international relations department at the time of the incident.

EH was stripped of his positions, but is still officially employed as a UGM lecturer.

The investigative report in the Balairung student magazine also cited other unresolved sexual assault cases at UGM.

Sexual assault at universities

Many commentators believe that the incidents of sexual assault at universities that have emerged in the public eye are a mere tip of the iceberg.

In 2008, the University of Indonesia (UI) Law School received sexual assault reports from several students on a lecturer, TN.

As in the case of UGM’s EH, TN also sexually assaulted his students during one-on-one thesis consultations. TN was later dismissed from UI but he was still being interviewed by the media.

Women’s empowerment and rights activist Damairia Pakpahan said she had represented a sexual assault victim of a humanities lecturer at UGM, but that the case did not go anywhere.

The reporters are Jakarta Post journalists.

#kitaAGNI

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Royals talk empowerment, gender and climate advocacy with USP students

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex outside the University of the South Pacific’s Japan-Pacific ICT Centre on Laucala campus in Suva. Image: Wansolwara

By Mereoni Mili in Suva

Meeting the Duke and Duchess of Sussex in person was a humbling experience this week for specially selected students from the University of the South Pacific, including two first-year student journalists Apenisa Vatuniveivuke and Dhruvkaran Nand.

Vatuniveivuke, who is an undergraduate student majoring in journalism and law, said he was pleased to be one of 10 students from the Faculty of Arts, Law and Education chosen to speak with the royal couple about their involvement in empowerment projects, women’s development and climate change advocacy.

“I was in the second group on youth leadership to meet the Duchess of Sussex. We were introduced to the Duchess by her escort,” he says.

“But we had a chance to speak to her. I introduced myself, my area of study and the work I was engaged in with civil society organisations and political parties especially working to get young people’s voices in national discussions,.”

“And she said, ‘Oh, that’s so wonderful. I think more young people should get involved’.

“We had a small display about a marginal man – half-Pacific Islander and half-modernist. Our message through that was to show when we come to USP, we come to get educated but at the same time we try not to forget our culture.

-Partners-

“We were advocating on those types of platforms to ensure that when young people are educated they won’t forget where they’re from. The Duchess of Sussex’s reaction to our theme was wonderful.

‘Broke a bit of protocol’
“She was very receptive. We broke a bit of protocol by having a group photo taken. We were briefed not to do that but she actually agreed to have a group photo.”

Other student journalists were in the audience to witness the inaugural speeches while other journalism alumni were part of the accredited media team covering the royal tour in Fiji.

Solomon Islands student Cynthia Hou, 22, was another youth leader who was given an opportunity to meet the Duchess.

Solomon Islands student Cynthia Hou (middle) is flanked by friends at USP’s Laucala campus. Image: Mereoni Mili/Wansolwara

“It was an overwhelming experience because I’ve only seen her in magazines and on television. She encouraged me to continue the work I’m doing and to look into issues facing the Pacific.

“It was like a dream that went by so fast but the feeling is indescribable,” she said.

Another student, Sheenal Chand, 20, dubbed her encounter with the royals as an “amazing experience”.

Youth empowerment
“It was one I never thought would be so good. I spoke to her about the youth empowerment work I’m involved in and how our voices as young people can make a difference especially when highlighting issues such as climate change,” Chand said.

Inside the Japan-Pacific ICT Centre, the couple witnessed a cultural performance on the effects of climate change in the Pacific by Oceania Dance group.

They were hosted by the Queen’s Young Leader Elisha Azeemah Bano and the Commonwealth Youth Award recipient Elvis Kumar, two outstanding USP students.

The event was live streamed to several USP campuses in the region.

Mereoni Mili is a final-year journalism student at the University of the South Pacific’s Laucala campus reporting for Wansolwara. She was one of 250 students chosen to be part of the audience inside the USP Japan ICT Lecture Theatre. Wansolwara and the Pacific Media Centre have a content sharing partnership.

USP Journalism student Apenisa Vatuniveivuke was one of 10 students from USP’s Faculty of Arts, Law and Education chosen to meet the royal couple at Laucala campus. Image: Wansolwara

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

‘Be courageous in your quest for truth,’ journalism academic tells graduates

Professor David Robie presenting the Best Mobile Journalism Documentary prize sponsored by Internews and Earth Journalism Network at the annual University of the South Pacific journalism awards. Pictured is Kirisitiana Uluwai of Fiji in the runner-up team. Image: Harrison Selmen/Wansolwara

By Geraldine Panapasa in Suva

Pacific journalism academic Professor David Robie believes the media play a critical role in exposing abuses of power in a world increasingly hostile towards journalists.

However, journalists in the Pacific are frequently “persecuted by smallminded politicians with scant regard for the role of the media”, he says.

Speaking at last week’s 18th University of the South Pacific (USP) Journalism Student Awards ceremony at Laucala campus in Suva, Fiji, Dr Robie said despite the growing global dangers surrounding the profession, journalism was critically important for democracy.

READ MORE: David Robie’s full USP journalism awards ‘media phobia’ speech

USP 50 YEARS

Dr Robie said while such “ghastly fates” for journalists – such as the extrajudicial killing of Saudi dissident writer Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey earlier this month – may seem remote in the Pacific, there were plenty of attacks on media freedom to contend with, while trolls in the region and state threats to internet freedom were “also rife”.

“Next month, Fiji is facing a critically important general election, the second since the return of democracy in the country in 2014. And many graduating journalists will be involved,” Dr Robie said.

-Partners-

“Governments in Fiji and the Pacific should remember journalists are guardians of democracy and they have an important role to play in ensuring the legitimacy of both the vote and the result, especially in a country such as this which has been emerging from many years of political crisis.

“But it is important that journalists play their part too with responsibilities as well as rights. Along with the right to provide information without fear or favour, and free from pressure or threats, you have a duty to provide voters with accurate, objective and constructive information.”

Professor David Robie presenting a Te Matau a Maui – Mau’s fishhook – to USP journalism coordinator Dr Shailendra Singh for the newsroom to mark the “NZ connection”. Image: Harrison Selmen/Wansolwara

Tribute to whistleblowers
Dr Robie also paid tribute to two whistleblowers and journalists in the Pacific.

“Firstly, Iranian-born Behrouz Boochani, the refugee journalist, documentary maker and poet who pricked the Australian conscience about the terrible human rights violations against asylum seekers on Manus Island and Nauru,” Dr Robie said.

“He has reminded Canberra that Australia needs to regain a moral compass.

“And activist lawyer communicator Joe Moses, who campaigned tirelessly for the rights of the villagers of Paga Hill in Port Moresby.

“These people were forced out of their homes in defiance of a Supreme Court order to make way for the luxury development for next month’s APEC summit.

“Be inspired by them and the foundations of human rights journalism and contribute to your communities and countries.

“Don’t be seduced by a fast foods diet of distortion and propaganda. Be courageous and committed, be true to your quest for the truth.”

Professor Robie is the director of the Pacific Media Centre and professor of journalism in the School of Communication Studies at Auckland University of Technology. He is also editor of Pacific Journalism Review research journal and the news website Asia Pacific Report. He is a former USP Journalism Coordinator 1998-2002.

Geraldine Panapasa is editor-in-chief of USP’s Wansolwara journalism newspaper.

Pacific Media Centre director Professor David Robie and MASI president Charles Kadamana with graduating student journalists at the University of the South Pacific. Image: Harrison Selmen/Wansolwara

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Gallery: Pacific student journalists show their stuff on USP awards night

Pacific Media Watch Newsdesk

Student journalists have celebrated the end of the academic year with their 18th annual awards at the University if the South Pacific.

They were in jovial spirits as 14 awards and cash prizes to the tune of $6000 were awarded to many of the students in a ceremony on Friday evening.

Solomon Islands students did especially well, taking away many of the prizes.

Keynote speaker was a former coordinator of the USP journalism programme, Professor David Robie, director of the Pacific Media Centre.

Media Association of the Solomon Islands (MASI) president Charles Kadamana, a senior Solomon Star journalist who graduated from the USP programme last year, also spoke.

Full awards list | Professor David Robie’s speech

  • Photographers: Harry Selmen, Jovesa Naisua and David Robie

USP1: Graduating final year students and their awards with USP journalism coordinator Dr Shailendra Singh (left) and PMC director Professor David Robie. Image: Harry Selmen/Wansolwara

ISP2: Part of the crowd at the USP journalism awards night. Image: Harry Selmen/Wansolwara

USP3: Invited speakers … USP journalism programme coordinator Dr Shailendra Singh (from left) with Pacific Media Centre’s professor David Robie, head of the School of Literature and Media (SLAM), and MASI president Charles Kadamana. Image: Harry Selmen/Wansolwara

USP4: MASI president Charles Kadamana and PMC director professor David Robie with graduating student journalists. Image: Harry Selmen/Wansolwara

USP5: PMC’s Dr David Robie speaking at the USP journalism awards. Image: Harry Selmen/Wansolwara

USP6: Keynote speaker Professor David Robie (left) presents a koha from New Zealand to USP journalism programme coordinator Dr Shailendra Singh during the awards ceremony. Image: Jovesa Naisua/Fiji Times

USP7: PMC’s Professor David Robie, Fiji Times editor-in-chief Fred Wesley and USP journalism coordionator Dr Shailendra Singh at the awards. Image: Harry Selmen/Wansolwara

USP8: Fiji Times editor-in-chief Fred Wesley presenting an award with the Storyboard in the background. Image: David Robie/PMC

USP9: PMC’s David Robie making a prsentation at the awards. Image: Harry Selmen/Wansolwara

USP10: Second year student journalists – smartest dress award? Image: David Robie/PMC

USP11: Kava not Fiji Gold. Image: David Robie/PMC

USP12: USP Journalism’s Geraldine Panapasa amd PMC’s Professor David Robie share a joke. Image: Harry Selmen/Wansolwara

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media