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NZ: PIMA celebrates 10-year anniversary with vow to keep fighting

PIMA chair Iulia Leilua cuts the 10th anniversary cake last night. Photo: Alex Perrottet/PMC

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Item: 7702

AUCKLAND (Pacific Media Watch): The Pacific Islands Media Association celebrated its 10th anniversary last night in style at the Manhattan Function centre in the Auckland suburb of Mt Roskill.

PIMA chair Iulia Leilua and her team pulled out at all stops to ensure it was a night to remember and MCs, including Marama Papau from Tagata Pasifika, gave the 200-strong audience an "official licence to have fun".

But Leilua, who gave the opening address, made it clear she was not going to simply self-adulate on the occasion.PIMA secretary Sandra Kailahi with former PIMA chair and Tagata Pasifika veteran John Utanga. Photo: Alex Perrottet/PMC

Honest assessment
To be honest, I don’t think we have achieved as much as we would have liked to over the last 10 years,” she said.

“Finding people with commitment and dedication to the cause is difficult.”

Saying she would like to have more people on the executive, she added: “Some have taken a wait-and-see approach.”

It was not enough, in her book, that people simply came along for the ride.

Leilua, who was the association’s first chair and returned to the job in 2009, said: “I am not seeing too many people over my shoulder taking up the cause.

“We would like to see more people putting their hands to the plough.”

But keynote speakers highlighted the long way that Pacific reporting has come in New Zealand in the last 30 years.

'Making headway'
Media veteran Sefita Hao’uli said in the past 20 years Pacific people had not only built their own media enterprises but were “dotted through other people’s media as well”.

“We have some of the most famous poeple in the industry, we are making some headway and we are making our presence felt,” he said.

New Zealand Herald columnist Tapu Misa, who gave the keynote speech with husband Hao’uli, spoke of their "longevity" in the industry.

“It’s a testament to our bloody mindedness,” she said.Speakers Tapu Misa and Sefita Hao'uli at the PIMA anniversary dinner last night. Photo: Alex Perrottet/PMC

“In 1980 we were less than one percent of the media industry... how different New Zealand was then.”

Misa said there was still work to do to help people understand the Pacific culture. She spoke about starting work at the Herald and being sent to cover an issue with Maori activist Titewhai Harawira because she was brown, which didn’t help her cause when she arrived to interview Harawira.

“It’s not that there’s racism there [in the newsroom], just something they don’t understand. That’s the reason why we wanted to get into media, to get them to understand who we are.”

Opinion that counts
Hao’uli paid tribute to Misa’s standing in the media industry as an opinion writer.

“I was never able to do it. What Tapu has achieved in a short time in the industry is to have an opinion that will count,” he said.

“An opinion that will stand among other opinions in New Zealand. And will have an impact around the globe as well.”

The evening’s formalities were punctuated by entertaining performances by Pasifika performer STKS, who, with his sidekick Switchman, played songs from his new album Rhythm and Brown.

Several Pacific media identities were presented special awards for their service to the media industry and the Pacific cause in New Zealand, including New Zealand palagi media veterans John Andrews, a former chief reporter of the New Zealand Herald, and Dr David Robie, director of the Pacific Media Centre, who was this week appointed a professor at AUT University and had pushed through a new Graduate Diploma in Pacific Journalism programme.

Other media identities awarded were a former PIMA chair, John Utanga, Patrick Lino, Richard Pamatatau, John Manukia, Sevita Hao’uli and Tagata Pasifika executive producer Taualeo'o Stephen Stehlin.

Savea Sano Malifa and wife Jean, who publish the Samoa Observer, were special guests for the evening.

Hao’uli, who believes “the next 10 years will be even more exciting”, spoke about health issues, and especially non-communicable diseases “for which only our behaviour will make the greatest difference”.

“What will help us celebrate the last 10 years is what we agree to do for the next 10 years,” he said.

Race not over yet
Leilua, who was also forward-looking in her address, encouraged the audience to “think seriously about where we are going to take this in the future”.

“It’s a long race and it’s not going to be finished anytime soon.”

Misa agreed, adding there was still a need to “talk to the rest of New Zealand to show we are worthy and part of this country”.

“We are still at the bottom of the heap, and there is a lot still to do.

“We need good journalists and good journalism. Keep fighting the good fight.”

Special guests Savea Sano Malifa with his wife Jean, with Dr David Robie and Del Abcede. Photo: Alex Perrottet/PMC

About the authors

PMC profile photograph

Alex Perrottet

PMW contributing editor 2011-2012

Alex Perrottet is a journalist who has completed a Masters degree and Postgraduate Diploma in Communication Studies student at AUT University.

PMC profile photograph

Pacific Media Watch

PMC's media monitoring service

Pacific Media Watch is compiled for the Pacific Media Centre as a regional media freedom and educational resource by a network of journalists, students, stringers and commentators.
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