Saturday, June 19, 2021

How the 'voice of the voiceless' kaupapa became derailed at the Pacific Media Centre


Screenshot from the Pacific Media Centre video The PMC Project
by former student project editor Alistar Kata.

COMMENT: By DAVID ROBIE, founding director of the Pacific Media Centre

It really is bizarre. After 26 months of wrangling, stakeholders’ representations and appeals by the Pacific Media Centre participants to Auckland University of Technology management, in the end the innovative unit remains in limbo.

In fact, sadly it seems like a dead end.

In my 28 years as a media educator across four institutions in four countries I have never experienced as something as blatant, destructive and lacking in transparency as this.

Six weeks after I retired as founding director of the centre last December, the PMC office in AUT’s Sir Paul Reeves building was removed by packing up all the Pacific taonga, archives, books and files supporting student projects without consulting the stakeholders.

And then the award-winning staff running the centre on a de facto basis were apparently marginalised. 

As former Green Party MP Catherine Delahunty noted: “I am really shocked that a vibrant well developed centre is being treated like this - what is wrong with this institution?”

Sunday, June 6, 2021

West Papua, Palestine and other critical issues – why is NZ media glossing over them?


Indonesian police carry a body in the current crackdown against pro-independence Papuans
near Timika, Papua. IMAGE:


International reporting has hardly been a strong feature of New Zealand journalism. No New Zealand print news organisation has serious international news departments or foreign correspondents with the calibre of such overseas media as The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

It has traditionally been that way for decades. And it became much worse after the demise in 2011 of the New Zealand Press Association news agency, which helped shape the identity of the country for 132 years and at least provided news media with foreign reporting with an Aotearoa perspective fig leaf.

It is not even much of an aspirational objective with none of the 66 Voyager Media Awards categories recognising international reportage, unlike the Walkley Awards in Australia that have just 34 categories but with a strong recognition of global stories (last year’s Gold Walkley winner Mark Willacy of ABC Four Corners reported “Killing Field” about Australian war crimes in Afghanistan).

Aspiring New Zealand international reporters head off abroad and gain postings with news agencies and broadcasters or work with media with a global mission such as Al Jazeera.

Saturday, May 29, 2021

Days of Fiji ‘banana republic’ protests remembered in Bavadra reunion

Coalition for Democracy chair Adi Asenaca "Dia" Uluiviti and Jo Elvidge do an
impromptu reenactment of a "banana republic" protest - complete with balaclava mask -
by Fiji democracy protesters in Auckland during 1987 at last night's Bavadra
memorial reunion. IMAGE: David Robie/APR


Bananas, balaclavas and banners … these were stock-in-trade for human rights activists of the New Zealand-based Coalition for Democracy in Fiji who campaigned against then Colonel Sitiveni Rabuka’s original two coups in 1987 and the “banana republic” coup culture that emerged.

Many of the activists, politicians, trade unionists, civil society advocates and supporters of democracy in Fiji gathered at an Auckland restaurant in Cornwall Park to reflect on their campaign and to remember the visionary Fiji Labour Party prime minister Dr Timoci Bavadra who was ousted by the Fiji military on 14 May 1987.

Speakers included Auckland mayor Phil Goff, who was New Zealand foreign minister at the time, and keynote Richard Naidu, then a talented young journalist who had emerged as Dr Bavadra’s spokesperson — “by accident” he recalls — and movement stalwarts.

The mood of the evening was a fun-filled and relaxed recollection of coup-related events as about 40 participants — many of them exiled from Fiji — sought to pay tribute to the kindly and inspirational leadership of Dr Bavadra who died from cancer two years after the coup.

Participants agreed that it was a tragedy that Dr Bavadra had died such an untimely death at 55, robbing Fiji of a new style of social justice leadership that stood in contrast with the autocratic style of the current Fiji “democracy”.

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Time for NZ to speak up clearly for Palestinian rights and international law


Palestine, West Papua and Western Sahara are places where the indigenous people
are struggling for freedom and human rights. CARTOON: © Malcolm Evans


WHEN Nanaia Mahuta was appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs, there were hopes for a change in government thinking towards the struggles of indigenous people. The minister said she hoped to bring her experience and cultural identity as an indigenous woman to her role on international issues.

Palestine, West Papua and Western Sahara are places where the indigenous people are struggling for freedom and human rights and early on there was hope New Zealand would join the 138 member states of the United Nations that recognise Palestine.

However the hope has faded and Mahuta finally spoke on Tuesday, via a tweet, saying she was “deeply concerned” about the deteriorating situation in Jerusalem and Gaza. She called for a “rapid de-escalation” from Israel and the Palestinians, for Israel to “cease demolitions and evictions” and for “both sides to halt steps which undermine prospects for a two-state solution”.

Friday, April 30, 2021

Branding armed Papuan resistance as ‘terrorists’ angers rights groups, sparks media warning

The Morning Star flag ... symbol of West Papuan independence and
freedom and "illegal" in Indonesia. IMAGE: CNN Indonesia


Branding armed Papuan resistance groups as “terrorists” has sparked strong condemnation from human rights groups across Indonesia and in West Papua, some describing the move as desperation and the “worst ever” action by President Joko Widodo’s administration.

Many warn that this draconian militarist approach to the Papuan independence struggle will lead to further bloodshed and fail to achieve anything.

Many have called for negotiation to try to seek a way out of the spiralling violence over the past few months.

Ironically, with the annual World Press Freedom Day being observed on Monday many commentors also warn about the increased dangers for journalists covering the conflict.

Setara Institute for Peace and Democracy chairperson Hendardi (Indonesians often have a single name) has criticised the government’s move against “armed criminal groups” in Papua, or “KKB)”, as the Free Papua Movement (OPM) armed wing is described by military authorities.

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Gagged West Papuan envoy blocked again from raising self-determination issue at UN

West Papuan envoy John Anari
West Papuan envoy John Anari in New York ... "moral and legal obligation" for the UN
over West Papua. IMAGE: John Anari FB


A WEST Papuan envoy who was gagged while addressing the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues two years ago has been blocked again while trying to speak out.

For six years, John Anari, leader of the West Papua Liberation Organisation (WPLO) and an “ambassador” of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP), has been appealing to the forum to push for the Indonesian-ruled Melanesian region to be put on the UN Trusteeship Council.

He was speaking for the two groups combined as the West Papua Indigenous Organisation (WPIO), or Organisasi Pribumi Papua Barat, when he attempted to give his address at the forum last Thursday.

The West Papua letter to the UN Secretary-General
West Papuan envoy John Anari’s petitioning letter to the UN Secretary-General. IMAGE: APR screenshot

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