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


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 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.”


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

Scrap workers deal with Saudi Arabia following execution, says Jakarta NGO

Migrant Care activists hold a rally in protest against the execution of an Indonesian migrant worker in front of the Saudi Arabia Embassy in Jakarta on March 20, 2018. Image: Seto Wardhana/Jakarta Post

By Dian Septiari in Jakarta

The Migrant CARE advocacy group has called on Indonesia’s Manpower Ministry to cancel a recent agreement with Saudi Arabia to send Indonesian migrant workers to the kingdom in limited numbers, following the execution of Indonesian worker Tuti Tursilawati on Monday.

Migrant CARE executive director Wahyu Susilo strongly condemned the execution of Tuti by Saudi authorities and urged President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo to take significant diplomatic measures in protest against Riyadh, such as scrapping a pilot project to send a limited number of migrant workers to Saudi Arabia.

“President Jokowi must cancel the agreement between Indonesia and Saudi Arabia on the One Channel System [because the execution is] proof that Saudi Arabia does not fulfill the terms and conditions pertaining to the protection of the rights of migrant domestic workers,” Wahyu said in a statement.

READ MORE: The Saudi state-sponsored murder of Khashoggi updates

The assured protection of migrant workers’ rights was an explicit requirement in documents signed by Manpower Minister Hanif Dhakiri and his Saudi counterpart Ahmed Sulaiman Al Rajhi on October 11, the rights activist said.

The One Channel System was a scheme agreed upon by the labour ministers that would allow Indonesia to send a certain number of workers to the Middle Eastern kingdom, bypassing a 2015 moratorium.


Tuti was sentenced to death in 2011 for beating her employer to death with a stick in self-defence against attempted rape.

She ran away but was raped instead by nine Saudi men before the police brought her into custody, reported.

She was executed on Monday without prior notification to her family and Indonesian officials.

During a recent joint commission meeting between Indonesia and Saudi Arabia, Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi requested the cooperation of Riyadh to provide consular notifications in accordance with the 1963 Vienna Convention on consular relations.

President Jokowi also asked Saudi Foreign Minister Adel bin Ahmed Al Jubeir for assurances that Indonesian migrant workers’ rights be protected.

“Jokowi must be truly serious in responding to a situation like this. When he met with the Saudi foreign minister, the President asked Saudi Arabia to provide protection for Indonesian migrant workers and work to resolve the [murder of journalist Jamal] Khashoggi in earnest,” Wahyu said.

“It turns out the request was simply ignored.”

Dian Septiari is a Jakarta Post journalist.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Refugee children on Nauru ‘living without hope’, says advocacy group

Children outside RPC3 tents in Nauru … situation “untenable”. Image: Refugee Action Coalition/RNZ Pacific

By RNZ Pacific

A legal advocacy group has told the UN Human Rights Council that more than 100 asylum seeker and refugee children are living without hope on Nauru.

The Human Rights Law Centre addressed the latest council session in Geneva.

The centre’s Daniel Webb told the council that despite the fact the Australian government was professing its committment to human rights in Geneva, it continued to indefinitely imprison 102 children in its offshore detention centre on Nauru.

“Imprisoned for fleeing the same atrocities our government comes here and condemns. And after five years of detention, these children have now lost hope.

“Some have stopped speaking. Some have stopped eating. A 10-year-old boy recently tried to kill himself.”

Webb said if the detention was not stopped there would be deaths.


He said even the government’s own medical advisers were warning that the situation was untenable.

“Yet the Australian government still refuses to free these kids, and is fighting case after case in our Federal Court to deny them access to urgent medical care. Mr President, we are talking about 102 children.”

Australia presented their concerns regarding human rights around the world at the same session but did not mention their detention camps on Nauru or Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island.

This article is republished under the Pacific Media Centre’s content partnership with Radio New Zealand.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Students, migrants boost Nepalese community in NZ by 1000%

A Nepali family at a Nepalese New Year’s celebration: Sujata Nepal (from left), Nepal Adhikary, Aarna Adhikary and Ashish Adhikary. Image: Rahul Bhattarai/Te Waha Nui

By Rahul Bhattarai in Auckland

Almost 17,000 Nepalese people are now living in New Zealand following a sharp increase of migration from the Himalayas country, according to Statistics New Zealand’s latest figures.

In 2013, there were approximately 1600 Nepalese people in the country, but five years later that figure has increased by almost 1000 percent.

Of those living in the Auckland region, the majority have typically settled in the Puketapapa local board area in Mount Roskill (16.4 percent), Henderson-Massey local board area (14.1 percent), and Waitemata local board area (11.3 percent).

The president of New Zealand Nepal Society (NZNS), Dinesh Khadka, said 60 percent were international students and 40 percent were long-term residents who were on visas or work permits.

“Approximately 9000 [Nepalese] people live in Auckland and the rest are dispersed across various parts of New Zealand,” said Dinesh Khadka.

Two communities
NZNS is one of two Nepalese community organisations in Auckland, with a registered membership of 280 families.


The other is the New Zealand Nepal Association with 100 registered members.

A national festival will be held in Auckland on October 13 when Nepalese will celebrate Dashain, a national festival, which symbolises the victory of good over evil.

Dashain takes place over 10 days, when family members and friends come together and enjoy traditional cuisine, play cards, fly paper kites and play on a traditional bamboo swing.

Rahul Bhattarai is a student journalist on AUT’s Postgraduate Diploma in Communication Studies and also a part-time reporter for the Pacific Media Centre’s Pacific Media Watch freedom project. This article was first published by Te Waha Nui.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Rapa Nui activist calls for rigorous curb on ‘flouting’ of migration rules

Ahu Akivi maois (statues) on the island of Rapa Nui. Image: RNZ Pacific/AFP

By RNZ Pacific

An indigenous activist on Chile’s Rapa Nui says new rules restricting internal migration to the island need to be rigorously enforced.

Non-Rapa Nui Chileans now need to have Rapa Nui spouses or children to migrate to the island without a work contract.

The activist, Santi Hitorangi, said the rule requiring a contract has previously been flouted.

READ MORE: Rapa Nui limiting visitor time to stop overcrowding

“The authorities are saying that once in action there’s going to be rigorous enforcement. So far we haven’t experienced that.

“What we have experienced is the ability of the Chilean authority in collusion with business people on the island, be it Rapa Nui or Chileans, they are keen to find creative ways to jump over those so called provisions.”


Santi Hitorangi said Chileans moving from the mainland had overwhelmed Rapa Nui’s infrastructure and warped its culture.

“The Chileans who come from the marginalised neighbourhoods of Chile and have brought crime, degenerating the culture. They are doing taxi tours and the problem with that is the information they give to those tourists. They are a warped perspective of who we are,” Hitorangi said.

Rapa Nui, also known as Easter Island, had become overcrowded during 130 years of colonial rule and its environment was suffering with the water no longer being safe to drink, the activist said.

“Many of the underground wells are polluted because as long as we have had Chile on the island the waste has been dug in pits, plastics, chemicals what have you all covered over with dirt,” he said.

The Pacific Media Centre has a content sharing partnership with RNZ Pacific.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Housing issue not just ethnic – Pākehā leaders have ‘failed’, says author

AUT Policy Observatory’s Dr David Hall (from left, podium) with fellow “fair borders” panellists Dr Arama Rata, Andrew Chen and Dr Evelyn Masters at last night’s discussion. Image: Rhahul Bhattarai/PMC

By Rahul Bhattarai

Author and researcher David Hall has criticised anti-immigration rhetoric in New Zealand’s housing crisis, saying a more serious problem is “Pākehā leaders … failing to take action”.

Speaking at a panel discussion at Auckland University of Technology last night, Dr Hall, editor of the book Fair Borders: Migration Policy in the 21st Century, said harm and hurt from such rhetoric created side effects impacting on migrants.

Negativity directed towards home buyers with Chinese sounding surnames diverted attention from “long lines of people with British sounding surnames” that held and continued to hold powerful and influential positions over the housing issue.

Although there is an ethnic dimension to housing crises, he said that the most significant issue was that “Pākehā leaders supported by electorates with Pākehā majorities [were] failing to take action.”

Dr Hall, senior researcher of AUT’s Policy Observatory, was joined by three of the book’s contributors, Andrew Chen, Dr Arama Rata and Dr Evelyn Masters, to discuss how New Zealand’s borders impacted on its citizens, recent immigrants, and on people barred from the country.

Dr Hall said that over emphasis and over simplification of the role of immigration was not just a way of avoiding taking action, it was a way of avoiding responsibility for taking action and that helped nobody – “not even Pākehā and I say that as a Pākehā myself”.


He pointed out that one continuous theme was the failure of successful decision makers to make the tough decision that might have made a difference, such as the mayors of Auckland going back to the 1990s or the housing ministers.

“There is bit of pattern here,” he said.

‘Tricky’ issues
Dr Hall said that house prices had been rising since 1990s and only eight years ago there were more people leaving the country than were arriving, yet the house prices rose during the negative migration period.

The issue was “very tricky” with some of the genuine social strains such as housing affordability and policy and its relationship to migration.

The debate treated “immigration as an economic medicine that might taste a little bad and people just need to put up with which also doesn’t do anything to address peoples’ genuine worries”.

This was not his story to tell as no one ever challenged him based on the colour of his skin.
“As a Pākehā this isn’t really my story to tell because no one ever challenges me on whether I belong here, no one ever suggests to me that I shouldn’t be speaking English in public and no one tells me to leave by virtue of my appearance but this happens all the time to people,” he said.

Dr Arama Rata, a research officer at the University of Waikato, said that in New Zealand there was a border in place which was established by the invaders.

Māori border ignored
But the “Māori border has been ignored, a new imposition of state authority is being imposed, borders have been closed around the nation state to allow certain desirable white migrants in and to exclude others, and now we have a very secure racist structure in place”.

She said borders needed to be in place but, “it should be controlled more by our values rather than just purely economic incentives and the way I think we need to stop framing immigration as a problem”.

Dr Evelyn Masters, with Pākehā lineage and Cook Islands heritage that she is really proud of, said she struggled in explaining her New Zealand identity because people judged her based on her appearance.

Dr Masters, research manager of NZ Institute for Pacific Research, said people struggled to understand that she had multiple lineage in her blood line and wanted to be known as a New Zealander.

She did not have to be just one race because she looked brown, she said.

“I just want to say that I am a New Zealander, because my experience is I am multiple – I have brown people and white people in my family, why do I have to be just one as you see me.”

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Contrasting accounts of Indonesian genocide and betrayal in West Papua

BOOK REVIEW: By David Robie

Two damning and contrasting books about Indonesian colonialism in the Pacific, both by activist participants in Europe and New Zealand, have recently been published. Overall, they are excellent exposes of the harsh repression of the Melanesian people of West Papua and a world that has largely closed a blind eye to to human rights violations.

In Papua Blood, Danish photographer Peter Bang provides a deeply personal account of his more than three decades of experience in West Papua that is a testament to the resilience and patience of the people in the face of “slow genocide” with an estimated 500,000 Papuans dying over the past half century.

With See No Evil, Maire Leadbeater, peace movement advocate and spokesperson of West Papua Action Auckland, offers a meticulously researched historical account of New Zealand’s originally supportive stance for the independence aspirations of the Papuan people while still a Dutch colony and then its unprincipled slide into betrayal amid Cold War realpolitik.

Peter Bang’s book features 188 examples of his evocative imagery, providing colourful insights into changing lifestyles in West Papua, ranging through pristine rainforest, waterfalls, villages and urban cityscapes to dramatic scenes of resistance to oppression and the defiant displays of the Morning Star flag of independence.

Some of the most poignant images are photographs of use of the traditional koteka (penis gourds) and traditional attire, which are under threat in some parts of West Papua, and customary life in remote parts of the Highlands and the tree houses of the coastal marshlands.

Besides the photographs, Bang also has a narrative about the various episodes of his life in West Papua.


Never far from his account, are the reflections of life under Indonesian colonialism, and extreme racism displayed towards the Papuan people and their culture and traditions. From the beginning in 1963 when Indonesia under Sukarno wrested control of West Papua from the Dutch with United Nations approval under a sham “Act of Free Choice” against the local people’s wishes, followed by the so-called ‘Transmigrassi’ programme encouraging thousands of Javanese migrants to settle, the Papuans have been treated with repression.

‘Disaster for Papuans’
Bang describes the massive migration of Indonesians to West Papua as “not only a disaster for the Papuan people, but also a catastrophe for the rainforest, eartyn and wildlife” (p. 13).

“Police soldiers conducted frequent punitive expeditions with reference to violation of ‘laws’ that the indigenous people neither understood nor had heard about, partly because of language barriers and the huge cultural difference,’ writes Bang (p. 11). The list of atrocities has been endless.

“There were examples of Papuans who had been captured, and thrown out alive from helicopters, strangled or drowned after being put into plastic bags. Pregnant women killed by bayonets. Prisoners forced to dig their own graves before they were killed.” (p. 12)

A “trophy photo” by an Indonesian soldier from Battalion 753 of a man he had shot from the Lani tribe in 2010. Image from Papua Blood

A book that provided an early impetus while Bang was researching for his involvement in West Papua was Indonesia’s Secret War by journalist Robin Osborne, a former press secretary for Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Sir Julius Chan, the leader who was later ousted from office because of his bungled Sandline mercenary affair over the Bougainville civil war. Osborne’s book also influenced me when I first began writing about West Papua in the early 1980s.

After travelling through Asia, a young Peter Bang arrived in West Papua in 1986 for his first visit determined to journey to the remote Yali tribe as a photographer and writer interested in indigenous peoples. He wanted to find out how the Yali people had integrated with the outside world since missionaries had first entered the isolated tribal area just 25 years earlier.

When Bang visited the town of Angguruk for the first time, “the only wheels I saw at the mission station were punctured and sat on a wheelbarrow … It was only seven years ago that human flesh had been eaten in the area” (p. 16).

During this early period of jungle trekking, Bang rarely “encountered anything besides kindness – only twice did I experience being threatened with a bow and arrow” (p. 39). The first time was by a “mentally disabled” man confused over Bang’s presence, and he was scolded by the village chief.

Political change
Ten years later, Peter Bang again visited the Yali people and found the political climate had changed in the capital Jayapura – “we saw police and military everywhere” following an incident a few months earlier when OPM (Free Papua Movement) guerrillas had held 11 captives hostage in a cave.

He struck up a friendship with Wimmo, a Dani tribesman and son of a village witchdoctor and healer in the Baliem Valley, that was to endure for years, and he had an adoptive family.

On a return visit, Bang met Tebora, mother of the nine-year-old boy Puwul who was the subject of the author’s earlier book, Puwul’s World. At the age of 29, Puwul had walked barefooted hundreds of kilometres across the mountains from the Jaxólé Valley village to Jayapura, and then escaped across the border into Papua New Guinea. A well-worn copy of Puwul’s World was the only book in the village apart from a single copy of the Bible.

Years later, Bang met tribal leader and freedom fighter Benny Wenda who, with the help of Australian human rights activist and lawyer Jennifer Robinson, was granted asylum in the United Kingdom in 2003: “I felt great sympathy for Benny Wenda’s position on the fight for liberation. By many, he was compared to Nelson Mandela, although he was obviously playing his own ukelele” (p. 81)

A local chief in red sunglasses and bra talks to his people about the dangers of Indonesian administration plans for Okika region. Image: Peter Bang

Wenda and Filip Karma, at the time imprisoned by the Indonesian authorities for 15 years for “raising the Morning Star flag”, were nominated for the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize.

Bang founded the Danish section of the Free West Papua Campaign and launched an activist Facebook page.

One of the book’s amusing and inspirational highlights is his secret “freedom paddle” on the Baliem River when Peter Bang used a yellow inflatable rubber boat and a pocket-sized Morning Star flag to make his own personal protest against Indonesia (p. 123). This was a courageous statement in itself given the continued arrests of journalists in West Papua by the military authorities in spite of the “open” policy of President Joko Widodo.

As a special section, Bang’s book devotes 26 pages to the indigenous people of West Papua, profiling some of the territory’s 300 tribes and their cultural and social systems, such as the Highlands communities of Dani and Yali, and the Asmat, Korowai and Kombai peoples.

Fascinating insight
This book is a fascinating insight into West Papuan life under duress, but would have benefitted with tighter and cleaner copy editing by the English-language volunteer editors. Nevertheless, it is a valuable work with a strong sociopolitical message.

Peter Bang concludes: “Nobody knows what the future holds. In 2018, the Indonesian regime continues the brutal crackdown on the native population of West Papua.”

In contrast to Bang’s authentic narrative of life in West Papua, Maire Leadbeater’s See No Evil book – launched yesterday – is an activist historical account of New Zealand’s shameful record over West Papua, which is just as disgraceful as Wellington’s record on Timor-Leste over 24 years of Indonesian illegal occupation (tempered by a quietly supportive post-independence role).

Surely there is a lesson here. For those New Zealand politicians, officials and conservative journalists who prefer to meekly accept the Indonesian status quo, the East Timor precedent is an indicator that we should be strongly advocating self-determination for the Papuans.

One of the many strengths of Leadbeater’s thoroughly researched book is she exposes the volte-face and hypocrisy of the stance of successive New Zealand governments since Walter Nash and his “united New Guinea” initiative (p. 66).

“A stroke of the pen in the shape of the 1962 New York Agreement, signed by the colonial Dutch and the Indonesian government, sealed the fate of the people of West Papua,” the author notes in her introduction. Prior to this “selling out” of a people arrangement, New Zealand had been a vocal supporter of the Dutch government’s preparations to decolonise the territory.

In fact, the Dutch had done much more to prepare West Papua for independence than Australia had done at that stage for neighbouring Papua New Guinea, which became independent in 1975.

Game changer
Indonesia’s so-called September 30th Movement crisis in 1965 – three years after paratroopers had been dropped on West Papua in a farcical “invasion” – was the game changer. The attempted coup triggered massive anti-communist massacres in Indonesia leading to an estimated 200,000 to 800,000 killings and eventually the seizure of power by General Suharto from the ageing nationalist President Sukarno in 1967 (Adam, 2015).

A West Papua cartoon by Malcolm Evans (who also has a cartoon featured on the book cover) first published by Pacific Journalism Review in 2011. © Malcolm Evans

As Leadbeater notes, the bloodletting opened the door to Western foreign investment and “rich prizes” in West Papua such as the Freeport’s Grasberg gold and copper mine, one of the world’s richest.

“New Zealand politicians and diplomats welcomed Indonesia’s change in direction. Cold War anti-communist fervour trumped sympathy for the victims of the purge; and New Zealand was keen to increase its trade, investment and ties with the ‘new’ Indonesia.” (p. 22)

The first 13 chapters of the book, from “the Pleistocene period” to “Suharto goes but thwarted hope for West Papua”, are a methodical and insightful documentation of “recolonisation” and New Zealand’s changing relationship are an excellent record and useful tool for the advocates of West Papuan independence.

However, the last two contemporary chapters and conclusion, do not quite measure up to the quality of the rest of the book.

For example, a less than two-page section on “Media access” gives short change to the important media role in the West Papuan independence struggle. Leadbeater quite rightly castigates the mainstream New Zealand media for a lack of coverage for such a serious issue. Her explanation for the widespread ignorance about West Papua is simplistic:

“A major reason (setting aside Radio New Zealand’s consistent reporting) is that the issues are seldom covered in the mainstream media. It is a circular problem: lack of direct access results in a dearth of objective and fully rounded reporting; editors fear that material they do receive may be inaccurate or misrepresentative; so a media blackout prevails and editors conflate the resulting limited public debate with a lack of interest.” (p. 233)

Mainstream ‘silence’
Leadbeater points out that the mainstream media coverage of the “pre-internet 1960s did a better job”. Yet she fails to explain why, or credit those contemporary New Zealand journalists who have worked hard to break the mainstream “silence” (Robie, 2017).

She dismisses the courageous and successful groundbreaking attempts by at least two New Zealand media organisations – Māori Television and Radio New Zealand – to “test” President Widodo’s new policy in 2015 by sending crews to West Papua in merely three sentences. Since then, she admits, Indonesia’s media “shutters have mostly stayed shut” (p. 235).

One of the New Zealand journalists who has written extensively on West Papua and Melanesian issues for many years, RNZ Pacific’s Johnny Blades, is barely mentioned (apart from the RNZ visit to West Papua). Tabloid Jubi editor Victor Mambor, who visited New Zealand in 2014, Paul Bensemann (who travelled to West Papua disguised as a bird watcher in 2013), Scoop’s Gordon Campbell, Television New Zealand’s Pacific correspondent Barbara Dreaver and Tere Harrison’s 2016 short documentary Run It Straight are just a few of those who have contributed to growing awareness of Papuan issues in this country who have not been given fair acknowledgement.

Also important has been the role of the alternative and independent New Zealand and Pacific media, such as Asia Pacific Report, Pacific Scoop (both via the Pacific Media Centre), West Papua Media and Evening Report that have provided relentless coverage of West Papua. Other community and activist groups deserve honourable mentions.

Even in my own case, a journalist and educator who has written on West Papuan affairs for more than three decades with countless articles and who wrote the first New Zealand book with an extensive section on the West Papuan struggle (Robie, 1989), there is a remarkable silence.

One has a strong impression that Leadbeater is reluctant to acknowledge her contemporaries (a characteristic of her previous books too) and thus the selective sourcing weakens her work as it relates to the millennial years.

The early history of the West Papuan agony is exemplary, but in view of the flawed final two chapters I look forward to another more nuanced account of the contemporary struggle. Merdeka!

David Robie is director of the Pacific Media Centre and editor of Pacific Journalism Review. He was awarded the 1983 NZ Media Peace Prize for his coverage of Timor-Leste and West Papua, “Blood on our hands”, published in New Outlook magazine.

Papua Blood: A Photographer’s Eyewitness Account of West Papua Over 30 Years, by Peter Bang. Copenhagen, Denmark: Remote Frontlines, 2018. 248 pages. ISBN 9788743001010.
See No Evil: New Zealand’s Betrayal of the People of West Papua, by Maire Leadbeater. Dunedin, NZ: Otago University Press, 2018. 310 pages. ISBN 9781988531212.

Adam, A. W. (2015, October 1). How Indonesia’s 1965-1966 anti-communist purge remade a nation and the world. The Conversation. Retrieved from

Bang, P. (1996). Duianya Puwul. [English edition (2018): Puwul’s World: Endangered native people]. Copenhagen, Denmark: Remote Frontlines.

Osborne, R. (1985). Indonesia’s secret war: The guerilla struggle in Irian Jaya. Sydney, NSW: Allen & Unwin.

Robie, D. (1989). Blood on their banner: Nationalist struggles in the South Pacific. London, UK: Zed Books.

Robie, D. (2017). Tanah Papua, Asia-Pacific news blind spots and citizen media: From the ‘Act of Free Choice’ betrayal to a social media revolution. Pacific Journalism Review : Te Koakoa, 23(2), 159-178.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Justice Rajasinghe to deliver Fiji Times sedition trial verdict on Tuesday

Holding on … The Fiji Times publisher Hank Arts and his wife leave the High Court in Suva yesterday. Image: Jovesa Naisua/Fiji Times

By Litia Cava in Suva

High Court judge Justice Thushara Rajasinghe is set to deliver his verdict on Tuesday after the three assessors returned with a unanimous not guilty opinion against three senior management and editorial staff of The Fiji Times daily newspaper, a letter writer and the Fiji Times Ltd yesterday.

After three weeks of trial, Justice Rajasinghe will decide on whether the alleged seditious article that was published in Fijian language Nai Lalakai newspaper on April 27, 2016, was seditious and if it had an intention to cause feelings of ill will and hostility between different classes of the Fijian population:

  • The Fiji Times editor-in-chief Fred Wesley together with Nai Lalakai editor Anare Ravula are each charged with one count each of aiding and abetting the publication of a seditious  article,
  • Fiji Times Ltd publisher Hank Arts is charged with one count of publishing a seditious article in Nai Lalakai;
  • Letter writer Josaia Waqabaca is charged with one count of submitting for publication an article written by him with a seditious intention, and
  • Fiji Times Ltd is charged with one count of printing a seditious publication.
  • All pleaded not guilty.

READ MORE: The Fiji 4 – the case that tests press freedoms

The four accused with their lawyers outside the High Court in Suva yesterday. Image: The Fiji Times

While summing up the case, Justice Rajasinghe reminded the assessors that their main task was to assess and evaluate the evidence that was provided by all witnesses and to determine its credibility, reliability and truthfulness.

Fiji Village reports that Justice Thushara Rajasinghe told the assessors to read the Nai Lalakai article from the minds of reasonable and fair minded iTaukei readers.

He told the assessors to take into consideration under what circumstances the article was published and to consider the reaction of the readers.


Fiji Village’s report on YouTube.

Justice Rajasinghe told the three that he did not find the opinion of Permanent Secretary for iTaukei Affairs, Naipote Katonitabua, and linguist Professor Paul Geraghty would be much help to the assessors. Dr Geraghty had said that he did not have much interaction with the iTaukei community for the last 10 to 15 years as he was mainly teaching, while Katonitabua had said that he used to talk to the iTaukei community at times.

The judge told the assessors to consider the truthfulness of the answers given in the caution interview.

Litia Cava is a Fiji Times journalist.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media