Iran refugee detained in PNG wins Australia’s richest literary prize

Behrouz Boochani … wrote his award-winning book bit-by-bit via texting from Papua New Guinea. Image: Hoda Afshar/Behrouz Boochani/RNZ Pacific

Pacific Media Watch Newsdesk

An Iranian asylum-seeker detained in Papua New Guinea under Australian asylum laws has won Australia’s most valuable literary prize for a book he reportedly wrote using the online messaging service WhatsApp, reports France 24/AFP.

Behrouz Boochani, a Kurd who has been held on PNG’s Manus Island since 2013, was awarded the Victorian Prize for Literature yesterday, said a statement on a government website for the state of Victoria.

The journalist and filmmaker was awarded the A$100,000 (NZ$106,000) prize for his book No Friend But the Mountains: Writing from Manus Prison.

READ MORE: The book written one text at a time

He will receive an additional A$25,000 after it also won the non-fiction category.

“(Boochani’s) award was accepted by the book’s translator Omid Tofighian, who worked with Boochani over five years to bring the stories to life,” the state website said.


Media reports said Boochani wrote the work on his phone and sent it to Tofighian bit-by-bit in text messages.

This was because he felt unsafe in the guarded camp, which was shut last year after a local court ruling and the asylum-seekers moved elsewhere on the island.

For years Canberra has sent asylum-seekers who try to enter the country by boat to Manus Island or Nauru in the Pacific for processing, with those found to be refugees barred from resettling in Australia.

The harsh policy is meant to deter people embarking on treacherous sea journeys, but the United Nations and other rights groups have criticised the camps’ conditions and long detention periods.

Boochani’s book beat 27 other shortlisted works published last year in Australia to win the overall prize.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

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.


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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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Compulsory Te Reo Māori debate fails to address key problems, say critics

Māori language week was celebrated last week and the key issue in the media was a debate on whether Te Reo Māori should be made compulsory in New Zealand schools. Mike Mohr of Asia Pacific Journalism reports.

Amid the debate over the issue of compulsory Te Reo Māori lessons in New Zealand schools that intensified last week, many arguments and opinions for and against were voiced.

Many New Zealanders support the idea of te reo being introduced more widely into schools, with overwhelming media coverage in support for compulsory Te Reo be implemented into the New Zealand core school curriculum by 2025.

But the question that has not yet been answered is whether it is possible or realistic, and the views of some who do not agree with the notion of compulsion have not yet been fully voiced.

READ MORE: Te Wiki o te Reo Māori 


It is an ongoing debate that has divided many New Zealanders in support of its implementation and those opposed to Te Reo being made compulsory.

Figures in 2013 showcased a drop in the numbers of Te Reo speakers in New Zealand by 4 percent in 17 years.


Among those opposing compulsory Te Reo is Renata, a student teacher in her final year of study of bilingual primary teaching (Māori and mainstream). She believes that implementation will be complex.

Not enough teachers specialising in the subject area is her concern.

‘Lack of teachers’
“There is already a lack of teachers, where are we going to find the teachers,” she says.

She adds that there is a need to focus more on supporting current speakers and teachers in the subject instead on using compulsion because currently there is such a shortage in the number of teachers.

There are many challenges ahead if it is made compulsory, she believes.

“What’s stopping us implementing Te Reo without it becoming compulsory? Do we need to force Te reo upon people to make them understand the importance or is it already becoming a choice of importance at people’s own free will.”

Tapa, a student of Māori law studies, is opposed to the idea of compulsory te reo in New Zealand.

“I think te reo should not be made compulsory, I do not like the term compulsory,” says Tapa, citing the “immense resources” that will be needed.

“Kura (School) are not always producing high level reo users, most rangatahi (young people) won’t even reply in reo. I think spend the money improving existing structures to a higher level,” he says.

To roll out nationwide implementation of Te reo into the New Zealand school system would cost a lot of time, money and resources, training and maintenance where there is already a struggling system to deliver basic modalities.

More support
“I think, and my reasons are influenced by Dr Tīmoti Kāretu that existing speakers of Reo should be supported to improve what they know and brought up to a higher level.”

There is not a set dollar amount for how much the government spends each year on te reo, but the general conservative figure is more than $100 million a year.

“That funding and resources should be spent in avenues where reo is already active to get it to a higher level and used consistently instead of mass production of mediocre speakers.”

Tapa has a suggestion for those wanting to learn Te Reo: “I think if you want your kids to learn Te Reo, send them to kohanga, and enrol yourself in Reo courses, and embrace te ao Māori (Māori world)”.

Concern for the quality of teaching and for potential students not being provided the full philosophy of the Māori view point and cultural emulsification into te reo will not be achieved by just providing teachers that know the language.

“If any random teacher was given just the language to speed up the process of teaching children, then it has no wairua (spiritual connection) attached to it.”

Māori culture
Te reo Māori does not come alone, it comes with te ao māori (Māori world), whakaaro Māori, tikanga, kawa and many other aspects unique to Māori culture, language and beliefs.

All these will have an effect on each and every single one of these Te Reo meōna tikanga (Competence in speaking, writing, comprehension, structure and the application of Te Reo Māori me ona tikanga) is integrate to have reo, substance and identity.

“We don’t give that just to anyone, especially if it against their will and do not have respect for the culture let alone the language,” he says.

There is a bright light at the end of the tunnel as more and more people throughout the country are willing to make the effort to learn Te Reo.

“Statistics are showing that there has been a major influx of people all over New Zealand wanting to learn Te Reo Māori,” says Renata.

She believes that more resources and funding is needed to support current speakers and to support people who are passionate about wanting to learn Te Reo.

Importance realised
“People who want to learn and are now learning to recognise the reality of its importance,” she says.

Renata understands the amount of work that will be needed for it to be implemented is a huge up taking and everyone needs to do their part to preserve the language.

But, people need to choose for themselves and those who are passionate about learning Te reo need to be supported and encouraged with the proper resources made available to facilitate learning.

“It is up to us as an individual, as a whānau, and as an iwi to maintain that as tangata whenua, it is not the responsibility of others to bring back something that we as a collective need to learn ourselves and pursue,” Renata says.

Current arguments fall to the need for New Zealanders to learn more about Māori point of views and learning a second language will support cognitive development in young children in their development.

There seems to be a lot of agreement that having a second language should be promoted and encouraged for school children.

Fear over choice
A lot of the fear of many parents is not being able to be given a choice on the second language their young one will learn.

Not many people are denying the importance of Māori culture and language in New Zealand, and is the duty of New Zealanders under the treaty to treasure and maintain the language for future generations, say advocates.

But a realistic discussion and debate on how to implement it will be beneficial for all.

While there seems to be a lot of emotion when the topic is discussed, no real attempt is being made to justify to the wider public the need for Te Reo to be compulsory without logical arguments to appease the fear of wider New Zealand.

Mike Maatulimanu Mohr is a student journalist on the Postgraduate Diploma in Communication Studies (Journalism) reporting on the Asia-Pacific Journalism course at AUT University.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Learning te reo Māori a pathway to Aotearoa’s culture and history

Eden created an online series for Te Karere voicing the political views of youth. Video: AUT

By Michael Neilson, Māori affairs reporter of the New Zealand Herald

Advocates for boosting te reo levels in Aotearoa say it provides a gateway to greater cultural, historical and racial understanding.

Minister for Crown/Māori Relations Kelvin Davis says he would love to see all New Zealanders feeling comfortable in Māori spaces, with te reo Māori being the key.

“To go on marae and feel comfortable, engage in things like Waitangi Day, Kororneihana, and Rātana. It is only daunting when there is ignorance and lack of understanding about what is going on.”

Davis says Te Tiriti o Waitangi is a “bridge” connecting te ao Māori and Pākehā, with language, customs and culture on each side.

“Since 1840 who has crossed that bridge? Māori have crossed over, how many have come back the other way? Some people have, and we are really grateful for that, but it has been one-way traffic mainly.”


Due to that one-way traffic, and consequent ignorance of Māori language and culture, there is often tension. Learning te reo would help reduce the ignorance about Māori issues, and what it is to be Māori, Davis says.

Growing up in a monolingual household, Davis, of Ngāti Manu descent, said he felt “something was missing”.

‘Felt embarrassed’
“I felt embarrassed going on to our marae, not knowing what was being said.”

He took it up at high school, maintaining it through his adult life. He said he was about a “7.5 out of 10” in terms of fluency.

Speaking Māori gives confidence in who you are as Māori New Zealander, and leads on to other understanding of whakapapa, and history, Davis said.

“It is hard to engage in te ao Māori without knowing the language. You can know tikanga, customs, attitudes, but the cream on top is te reo.”

Head of Auckland University of Technology’s School of Language and Culture, Associate Professor Sharon Harvey, says learning a second language helps people understand different points of view.

“If New Zealand had embraced Māori earlier on we would be seeing the benefits of seeing things from different perspectives. Our determined rejection has not helped.”

Te reo Māori is closely linked to other Pacific languages.

Pacific access
“It gives access to Pacific languages like Tahitian, Cook Island Māori, and a little more distant to Tongan and Samoan.”

While New Zealand promotes itself as being bicultural, it has never extended that ambition to being bilingual, Dr Harvey says.

“I think Māori would say the intent of the Treaty was never for the language of this land to be lost, and replaced with a language from the other side of the world. We really can’t be bicultural unless we are bilingual.”

Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson says her grandmother had te reo “beaten” out of her. Image: Michael Craig/ New Zealand Herald

Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson says te reo is a “core” part of the future of race relations in Aotearoa.

Davidson’s grandmother had literally had the language beaten out of her, and it had taken three generations to get over the trauma.

“Her children didn’t learn, and neither did we, and now it has taken our children to finally reclaim it.

“Te reo is core to healing, core to the future of our race relations. It gives us something unique, to be proud of, together.”

Adult learning
Davidson (Ngāti Porou, Te Rarawa and Ngāpuhi) started learning te reo properly as an adult, and even made a decision to only speak te reo to one of her daughters – now 10 – since birth.

Te reo offers an insight to the Māori worldview, offering different perspectives, Davidson says.

“Things like there being no gender pronouns in te reo, in itself says something profound about accepting or rejecting narrow sexual identities.

“Another example is mokopuna, which literally means wellspring of descendants. Te reo offers the opportunity to understand those things.”

National’s Māori development spokesman Nuk Korako says te reo is like the country’s “flora and fauna”.

“It is like the kauri – it is unique, rooted in this country’s fabric. Why wouldn’t we want to learn te reo?”

Korako, of Ngai Tahu descent, grew up in a monolingual household, with parents part of the generation “not allowed to speak Māori”.

Te reo compulsory
He learned his reo at St Stephen’s College in Bombay, south of Auckland, where te reo was a compulsory subject.

“I remember on my first day there were guys from Tūhoe having a conversation in te reo. I had heard it on the marae growing up, but it was fascinating to hear it in a daily context.”

He says increasing cultural and history understanding would foster interest in te reo.

“One of the most important things with rangatahi in New Zealand, is that they have a really good understanding and grounding of Māori culture and history, because it then gives them that appreciation to the language of the culture.”

Te Taura Whiri (Māori Language Commission) chairwoman Professor Rawinia Higgins says learning te reo would give Kiwis a better understanding of who we are as a nation.

“It is our first language, so helps define who we are. It is also a defining feature of who we are in a global context.

“A significant feature of our national game is the haka, and that is in te reo. On the international stage people are interested in it for that unique element.”

Higgins, who is also Victoria University of Wellington’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Māori), says language and culture go hand in hand.

“With te reo, Te Tiriti comes into it as well. It helps open up a different perspective over some of our historical encounters, and move forward overall.”

This article is republished from the New Zealand Herald with permission.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Kupu: New app translates objects into te reo Māori

Te Rina Kowhai reports for Te Karere. Video: TVNZ

Pacific Media Watch Newsdesk

A new app developed by Spark and Google in conjunction with the Research Team of the Te Aka Māori – English, English – Māori Dictionary in Te Ipukarea ~The National Māori Language Institute, has taken New Zealand by storm this Māori Language Week, reports AUT News.

Kupu – an app that allows users to scan their surroundings, take photos of everyday objects and offers the te reo translation – has landed extensive media coverage since its launch on Monday and has been downloaded thousands of times.

Te Ipukarea director Professor Tania Ka’ai of Auckland University of Technology served as project lead and worked closely with Spark and Colenso BBDO, Spark’s Creative Team, to develop the resource from the time they requested to embed Te Aka in the app to its completion.


For Professor Ka’ai, Kupu symbolises the legacy of her colleague, mentor and friend Professor John Moorfield, who died in March.

“Spark first approached John late last year,” Tania explained. “They needed a solid, reliable and comprehensive set of Māori words to integrate into the app – and saw John’s Te Aka Māori -English, English- Māori Dictionary as the best tool for the job.”


The team at Te Ipukarea sourced and provided a set of nouns and adjectives that underpin the app’s te reo lexicon. They also provided the audio versions of these words to ensure that Kupu users can hear the correct pronunciation.

“The team and I worked hard to get the best possible collection of words and phrases together in time for the app’s launch,” Professor Ka’ai said.

“One of John’s final projects was a Dictionary update and to help finish that off in time for the Kupu launch we spent five days in a recording studio with a native te reo speaker and recorded a further 6,500 new words. It was an exhausting, but necessary process.”

Now that Kupu is in the public sphere, Professor Ka’ai and her team are involved with reviewing feedback and fine-tuning any niggling issues.

“We’ve received so much positive feedback already,” Professor Ka’ai said. “Its incredibly gratifying to know that it has made people happy. Kupu really is for all New Zealanders – not just Māori – and I’m glad that the app is another step in normalising te reo in this country.”

And since the official launch at the start of Te Wiki o te Reo Māori / Māori Language Week Tania has been proud of the team’s efforts.

“It really is a proud moment for us, and I think John would have been proud of the final product too.”

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

New Caledonia: Does the French public actually want to ‘set it free’?

Things may be coming to a head over the coming New Caledonia referendum, the independence struggle in New Zealand’s own region, but there is only lukewarm interest in France itself, writes Lee Duffield. After reporting from Noumea last month for Asia Pacific Report, he has been walking the streets in France this week asking people about New Caledonia — and getting some blank stares.

Tourists who take over Paris in Summer were milling about, thinking of moving out this week and regular inhabitants commenced their mass rentrée – the big return from holidays elsewhere.

One of those, President Emmanuel Macron, came back from his Riviera holiday retreat to convene a cabinet meeting on Wednesday last week, where far away places would be far out of mind.

Politics at ‘home’, not in Noumea
All commentaries focused on the President’s chances of making a fresh start and recovery from the damage of a local political and security scandal, the “Benalla affair”.

READ MORE: Lee Duffield’s earlier three-part series on New Caledonia

New Caledonia: What next?

A head of the Presidential security detail, Alexandre Benalla, had been caught in police uniform assisting a SWAT team, whacking citizens in a demonstration.

Out of line and acting illegally, he’d been given a short suspension but it preoccupied French media well into July, until Macron declared himself responsible for the whole business and weathered a censure motion in parliament.


The French President had been, a few months earlier, receiving much friendlier treatment at the other end of the Earth, visiting Australia and the Pacific region, most notably his “pre-referendum” trip to New Caledonia.

That generated interest in the vote on New Caledonia’s independence set for November 4, with a spate of consultations among interested parties and assurances of goodwill from the Head of State.

While the parties have prioritised holding this vote in a peaceful setting, the process, as assessed by one commentator in Le Monde, “n’est pas anodin” — is not without pain.

Voters in France, who will not be taking part in the New Caledonia referendum, comment on the future of the former colony.

Yet discord in the Pacific territory does not translate into anxiety within metropolitan France, where, so long as it is quiet “down there”, there is not much concern.

A scan of French media over July and August, concentrated on the main centre-left journal Le Monde and the right-wing Le Figaro, showed up a chain of other domestic and overseas interests dominating news – activities of Trump, especially his trade wars and now his legal crisis, astronomy (Mars brighter than Jupiter this month, water on Mars, other planets spotted), Africa (voting in Mali and Zimbabwe), climate change and plastic pollution, the migration story, international agreement on replenishing the Caspian sea, the pesticide RoundUp as a likely carcinogen, New Zealand (banning foreign real estate buys, banning single-use plastic bags), storms and floods in France, wild fires in California and Portugal – on and on, much to think about.

Reports on New Caledonia for each publication can be counted on, at most, two hands.

So do they give much of a damn what happens there?

Asking voters in Paris
A reporter straw poll this week in Paris and a few locations outside produced a clear impression that knowledge of New Caledonia among voters in France – who will not be participating in the territory’s referendum – was rather weak, although there was plenty of soft support for keeping it French.

Voters in France.

The questions and answers were:

Do you know New Caledonia, from having been there, reading about it or seeing it in media?

Generally, out of 30 French people consulted across a big range of ages and types, there was not much to report. At least six persons indicated sound knowledge of New Caledonia and its background, citing information from friends there or from news media, recalling the crises of the 1980s or showing familiarity with the Matignon negotiations that led to the referendum.

However, most were vague about the territory; even the location in the Pacific Ocean was unsure in several cases.

Would you agree if they voted for independence in November or be against that?

Nearly 20 of the 30 interviewees said “no” to independence, usually making a reservation that it was a “tendency”, not a strong idea. For reasons: It is good for the French to have a connection in the Pacific region, many French have invested or invested their lives in it and it seems to give prosperity to all people there. Most saying “yes” averred it was fair to have a referendum, correct for the voters to decide and they would readily accept the outcome.

Voters in France.

On a scale of seven, say whether New Caledonia is important to you as a French person, seven being very important, one being not at all.

Here, a strong group of six said seven.

One young voter said:

“What is important for France, is important for me.”

Similarly, said a Parisian doctor:

“It must have strategic importance for the country so I support it.”

And a young woman contributed:

“My husband and I travel a lot; we would like to be able to travel there, as a part of France.”

A similar number gave a low importance rating in the range one to three.

A retired woman in a family group said:

“I don’t know that place and it is not my concern.”

One young man with children said:

“It is not of such great economic importance to France and I agree with the principle of independence.”

Voters in France.

In a few cases, respondents volunteered concern for the indigenous Kanak population.

One of the “no” supporters said:

“Is independence what they want? Other countries have achieved their independence. Why not?”

Another said:

“No full independence, but the Kanak people should keep their cultural independence and identity as they wish.” 

Where one respondent, anti-independence, averred this “was not to be the old colonial way with subjugation of the local population and economic exploitation”, another was concerned about excess power acquired by nickel mining companies, “more powerful than the government whether independent or France”.

No respondents had been to New Caledonia.

Voters in France.

Calm about letting it go
Most might willingly agree to it remaining as a French territory, out of a mild patriotism and a goodwill feeling that being French probably protects the territory also. A good number, maybe a third, would be clear that it is a faraway place, not France, has a right to its independence and certainly would not warrant a foreign “war” to keep it. That bloc of opinion would overlap with strong and informed militant opinion in the political community, arguing for decolonisation and national independence. No violent, chauvinistic, neo-colonialist sentiment came up in this small survey.

The situation so described might give some comfort to the independentiste side in New Caledonia.

Should they actually win this time, they might expect a ready enough acceptance of their independence among a French public, not uniformly that well-informed but not hostile, not out to block it.

Should they lose, there will not be much sympathy among the French public either, with little room for appeal there.

Their participation in a peaceful routine of negotiation and progress in the direction of independence may have even harmed the cause by making everything seem quiet and not urgent.

Regrettable to say, the violence and near-insurrection of the 1980s commanded attention in Paris and got the changes happening.

A voter in France.

‘Squeaky wheel gets the oil’
“The squeaky wheel gets the oil”, is the saying.

The Kanak independence movement has been reproached from time to time, for not pushing hard enough in the propaganda wars.

Yet leaders of the movement insist they are not finished, the process must keep going towards independence and the prospect of repeat referendums, if “no” wins this year, gives them more time to act.

The French Prime Minister, Édouard Philippe, said in Noumea last December, the French state was being active in finding a solution and “an active state took up its responsibilities”.

In any event, there would be no going back to an old, former state set-up with irreversible outcomes.

New Caledonia would keep its high level of autonomy, innovation would not be blocked and the objective would be to construct a common destiny respecting the hopes of all.

Voters in France.

Dr Lee Duffield is a former ABC foreign correspondent, political journalist and academic. He is also a research associate of the Pacific Media Centre and on the editorial board of Pacific Journalism Review.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Indonesian police arrest 49 in attack, vandalising of Papuan dormitory

The 49 arrested Papuan students in Surabaya police station after the protest. Image: Suara Papua

By Bastian Tebai in Surabaya

Indonesian police last night arrested 49 Papuan students who live at the Kamasan Papuan Dormitory in the East Java provincial capital of Surabaya and they are being held at the district police headquarters (Polrestabes).

There were two reasons for the arrests, according to information gathered by Suara Papua news service.

First, opposition by mass organisations (ormas) to planned peaceful demonstrations rejecting the 1962 New York Agreement which were held earlier this morning, in which the Papuan student dormitory was the gathering point for protesters.

Second, the residents of the dormitory refused to put up the national Indinesian flag in front of the dormitory as part of the August 17 national celebrations of Indonesian independence tomorrow because they said they “did not feel part of” the Indonesian state.

Local residents, the ormas and police ended up forcing the Papuan students to fly the red-and-white Indonesian flag.

Yesterday afternoon, Papuan students were involved in a clash with a combined group of police and ormas who vandalised and then demolished the front gate of the Papuan dormitory.


A number of ormas joined police in the incident, including the militant Patriot Garuda, the Pancasila Youth (Pemuda Pancasila) and the Bastions of the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia (Benteng NKRI) groups.

According to information gathered by the Surabaya Legal Aid Foundation (LBH), these “reactionary” groups earlier attacked the Papuan students who were refusing to put up the national flag.

Students defend themselves
The Papuan students living at the dormitory tried to defend themselves and, according to several media reports, one ormas member was injured by a sharp instrument.

Since then, the dormitory has been surrounded by police and “reactionary ormas”. Later in the evening, police arrived and tried to arrest several Papuan students resulting in an argument that continued until 11pm last night.

In the end, all of the Papuan students – 49 people – were taken away and held at the Surabaya district police office.

Papuan Student Alliance (AMP) secretary-general Albert Mungguar told Suara Papua the incident that occurred in Surabaya was the same as that which was carried out by the Indonesian military against the people of Papua.

“Nationalism is not something that can be forced. Nationalism is related to ideology, it is born out of the people’s consciousness.” Mungguar said.

“If today the Papuan people and Papuan students don’t want to fly the red-and-white flag, what should be done by the state and its citizens is to ask, why don’t Papuan students have a sense of Indonesian nationalism, not to pressure them, force them, like they were possessed by the Devil, enforcing their view though acts of violence.”

Unconditional release
Regarding the 49 Papuan students, who were still being held at the Surabaya district police office today, the AMP is demanding their unconditional release in the name of upholding human rights and the principles of democracy.

“We condemn the repressive actions by police, in this case the Surabaya Polrestabes and reactionary ormas. And we call for the immediate release of our 49 comrades who were arrested for no rational reason,” said Mungguar.

Earlier in the day, simulations actions were held in several cities in Java and Bali coordinated by the AMP rejecting the New York Agreement which was signed on August 15, 1962.

Pacific Media Centre notes:
Following the launch of the Trikora military operation which was aimed at harassing and forcing the Dutch out of Netherlands New Guinea in 1961-62 and under the threat that Indonesia would move from armed infiltrations to a large-scale military attack, US sponsored negotiations that led to the signing of the New York Agreement on August 15, 1962. Under this agreement, the Netherlands agreed to hand over administration of Western New Guinea to Indonesia pending a UN administered plebiscite.

Seven years later under the newly installed Suharto dictatorship, the treaty led to the so-called “Act of Free Choice” in 1969 in which 1025 hand-picked Papuans “voted” at gun-point for the territory remain part of Indonesia.

Bastian Tebai is a Suara Papua journalist.

Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was “Asrama Papua di Surabaya Dikepung, 49 Penghuni Diangkut ke Polrestabes“.

The wrecked entrance to the Kamasan Papuan Dormitory in Surabaya, Indonesia. Image: Suara Papua

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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.”


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

Elite groups ‘contain’ nuclear food safety debate, says researcher

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Headline: Elite groups ‘contain’ nuclear food safety debate, says researcher

By Jean Bell in Auckland

A loose collection of elite groups shape the global language and thinking around food safety in the nuclear era, says a researcher who has been studying the Fukushima disaster in Japan seven years ago.

This cohort, formed in the 1960s and dubbed by the researcher as the “Transnational Nuclear Assemblage”, includes government and business institutions that produce ruling texts on radiation protection that determine safe levels.

A core idea was that of narrative and approach to issues, especially relating to different “realities”, said Karly Burch, a doctoral candidate at the University of Otago who was speaking at a public seminar hosted by AUT’s Pacific Media Centre.

The seminar focused on the governance of “safe food” after the Tokyo Electric Power Company’s (TEPCO) Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant explosions in the wake of the 9.1 magnitude Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami on 11 March 2011.

“Multiple realities are possible, but sometimes the ruling elite wants to enact a certain reality and we are convinced there is only one way to do things but in fact there may be many.”

The anniversary of the disaster was last Sunday.

Researcher Karly Burch speaking at the Fukushima seminar. Image: Del Abcede/PMC

Burch moved to Japan in 2008 and lived in the Kansai region. After two years, she moved to Europe to do her masters degree research in agroecology. At the time of the disaster, she was in Austria and she returned to Japan.

Radiation discourse
Her research “questions how the Japanese government and agricultural industry encourage people to eat food that possibly contain TEPCO’s radionuclides, and how this works”.

Radionuclides are unstable isotopes that release particles to reach a more stable state, Burch said.

Ionising radiation is the most concerning radiation as it can damage cells. These radionuclides cannot be sensed by humans and radiation machines are required to identify objects or food with radionuclides.

When thinking about institutional ethnography and tracing ruling discourses, Burch began to consider how the ruling discourses and the language used to discuss radiation emerged.

She also took into account how discussion around safe food is “contained” within these ruling discourses, and “how do we all participate within that containment”.

Postdoctoral researcher Dr Sylvia Frain of the Pacific Media Centre (left) with Fukushima seminar presenter Karly Burch. Image: Del Abcede/PMC

Burch used institutional ethnography as a way to trace how discourse, documents or media link everyday people to this attempt to rule and coordinate the way people consume and think about food safety.

Burch also borrowed theory relating to material semiotics from science and technology studies.

She said that while science has been considered almost “God-like and untouchable” in the past, material semiotics considers how all types of objects, both human and non-human, are used and involved in scientific research.

“It’s not a controllable system, there’s human and non-human actors relating with each other,” Burch explained.

“The discovery of xrays and radioactivity dates back to the 1890s,” Burch said.

The International Committee on Radiation Units and Measurements was formed as a response to the damage radiation was causing, with people beginning to suffer injuries or even dying due to exposure to radioactivity, Burch said.

“Scientists were looking at ways to discuss radioactivity with each other. They needed to have shared units and measurements.”

Jim Marbrook, a documentary maker and AUT lecturer in screen studio production, attended the seminar.

Marbrook has twice been to Japan researching a film he is working on, and found the seminar interesting.

“I thought it was a really interesting topic to research,” said Marbrook. “It was particularly interesting how she analysed the discourse of protection agencies…and compared that to the dialogue that was going on between the people who had to evacuate.”

Jean Bell is contributing editor of the Pacific Media Centre’s Pacific Media Watch project.

Pacific Media Centre director Professor David Robie speaking at the Fukushima seminar. Image: Del Abcede/PMC

Crown breached Crimes Act over ‘depoliticising’ Treaty of Waitangi

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Headline: Crown breached Crimes Act over ‘depoliticising’ Treaty of Waitangi

Tiriti o Waitangi of 1840 … a “historical deception” that the British Crown gained sovereignty over New Zealand. Image: Steve Edwards

OPINION: By Steve Edwards

The New Zealand government’s ongoing failure to acknowledge that the British Crown did not gain sovereignty over New Zealand in 1840 is a breach of the Crimes Act.

In October 2014, this historical deception was made emphatically clear by the Waitangi Tribunal, which found that Māori did not sign away sovereignty when 512 chiefs, or rangatira, signed Te Tiriti o Waitangi of 1840.

LISTEN: PM says treaty must be treated as a ‘living document’ – Radio Waatea

Instead of the Crown spelling out to New Zealanders these essential truths since late 2014, it has deceitfully left intact this country’s fairy-tale creation myth that a cession of sovereignty occurred at Waitangi in those flaggy scenes of 1840.

Therefore, the Crown has breached section 240 of the Crimes Act, which covers deception to gain ownership or possession or control over property, or privilege, or to benefit economically, or cause loss to others.

Moreover, since the Waitangi Tribunal’s widely publicised investigation into the United Tribes’ 1835 Declaration of Independence and Te Tiriti o Waitangi, the Crown has pursued a deceptive strategy to avoid admitting that it has no legitimate claim to sovereign authority.


Steve Edwards is Pākehā, a television editor, and blogs on Snoopman News.

Māori land loss … These five maps show progressive structural dispossession in 1860, 1890, 1910, 1939 and 2000 over the North Island. Māori land is shaded in blue. Montage: NZ History

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