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Pacific Media Centre founder takes on new social justice journalism function

By Laurens Ikinia

A journalist who sailed on board the bombed environmental ship Rainbow Warrior, was arrested at gunpoint in New Caledonia whereas investigating French navy garrisons in pro-independence Kanak villages, and reported on social justice points throughout the Pacific has stepped down as founding director of the Pacific Media Centre.

Professor David Robie, 75, an writer, tutorial, unbiased journalist and journalism professor at Auckland College of Know-how, retired this week after greater than 18 years on the establishment.

He has been working as a journalist for greater than 56 years and as an instructional for greater than 27 years.

In addition to taking part in a task in vital moments of historical past as a journalist within the area, his college students have additionally coated landmark occasions that helped form some Pacific nations, particularly in Melanesia – such because the 1997 Sandline mercenary disaster in Papua New Guinea and the George Speight coup in Fiji in Might 2000.

However a journalism or tutorial profession weren’t at all times clearcut pathways for Dr Robie. Throughout his research in highschool, he was closely concerned in outside pursuits and he grew to become a Queen’s Scout.

On the time he was pondering of turning into knowledgeable forester and he was recruited by the NZ Forest Service at 17 in 1963 as a forester cadet with a view to learning for a BSc after which forestry science.

However the identical yr he was chosen to signify New Zealand at a World Jamboree at Marathon Bay, Greece – the location of a well-known battle between the Athenians and the Persians in 490 BC.

Future choices
This introduced his future choices to a head.

“In school I used to be excited by three issues – writing, artwork and mapping/open air. So, that’s why I initially needed to turn out to be a forester,” he says.

However going to Greece modified the whole lot. He began his science diploma course whereas working half time on the NZ Forest Service publications division at its headquarters in Wellington. He then realised he was extra excited by writing.

“I realised that I didn’t wish to spend my life speaking with bushes, regardless that I like bushes,”

On the finish of the yr, he grew to become a cadet journalist at The Dominion (now the Dominion Submit). Shortly after he grew to become the youngest subeditor on the newspaper.

He later went to Auckland to work as assistant editor on Auto Age journal, had a brief stint on The New Zealand Herald as a subeditor earlier than shifting to Australia to affix the Melbourne Herald.

Whereas working there in 1968, he was strongly influenced by the scholar riots in Paris and took a severe curiosity in politics over the scholar protests towards Australia’s involvement within the Vietnam Battle.

Youngest editor
At 24, he grew to become the youngest editor of a nationwide Sunday newspaper, the Sunday Observer, which campaigned strongly towards the Vietnam Battle.

In his mid-20s, Dr Robie migrated to Johannesburg, South Africa, and was appointed chief subeditor of the Rand Every day Mail, the nation’s main newspaper crusading towards the apartheid regime.

Though Dr Robie’s social justice views as a journalist grew to become formed whereas he was working on the Sunday Observer in Melbourne, this was not dangerous as in South Africa.

“In South Africa, we had been actually pushed arduous. I most likely discovered most of what I’ve discovered in my profession as a journalist in South Africa.

“Primarily due to the threats and experiences. I labored with quite a lot of ‘banned’ and inspirational folks, like photojournalist Peter Magubane.

“I used to be threatened many instances and on one event I drove Winnie Mandela’s two daughters from their dwelling in Soweto to a multiracial college in Swaziland as a result of Winnie, being banned, couldn’t journey.

“I drove the women 360 km by means of roadblocks to take the kids to high school,” Dr Robie remembers.

Threats towards journalists
The late Winnie Mandela was the spouse of imprisoned anti-apartheid revolutionary Nelson Mandela who grew to become President of South Africa 1994-1999 and died in 2013. The 2 daughters are Zindziswa Mandela and Zenani Mandela-Diamini.

Whereas working in South Africa, Dr Robie discovered a variety of issues he had by no means skilled in New Zealand – the important must marketing campaign for social justice, threats towards journalists and jailings, and the function of human rights journalism.

Subsequently, he travelled overland as a freelancer throughout Africa and ended up in Nairobi, Kenya. There, he labored as group options editor of the Aga Khan’s Every day Nation for a yr earlier than travelling to West Africa, Nigeria and throughout the Sahara Desert to Algeria and France.

In Paris, he camped within the Bois de Boulogne forest till he discovered a garret to reside in a refurbished seventeenth century constructing in Rue St Sauveur.

He labored for Agence France-Press international information company for 3 years and coated the 1976 Montreal Olympic Video games when there was a black African walkout in protest about New Zealand taking part in rugby towards white South Africa.

Whereas working for AFP, he gained familiarity with French international colonial insurance policies, and particularly the nuclear testing situation within the South Pacific.

The Pacific Journalist 2001 … one in every of David Robie’s books on South Pacific media and politics. Picture: USP

He says it was ironic that it took travelling to France for him to “get up” to the Pacific proper on New Zealand’s doorstep.

International editor
Dr Robie returned to New Zealand in 1979 and have become international editor on the Auckland Star. He began doing journeys to the Cook dinner Islands, New Caledonia, Tahiti, Vanuatu and elsewhere as a contract in his holidays. He thought he may as effectively go fulltime freelance to do the tales he was excited by.

In 1984, he arrange the Asia Pacific Community which he ran for 10 years from his dwelling in Gray Lynn.

He grew to become a chief correspondent for Fiji-based Islands Enterprise information journal overlaying investigative and environmental tales and decolonisation points. He additionally reported for the World South information company Gemini, The Australian, the New Zealand Occasions, RNZ Worldwide and different media.

In 1985, he sailed on board the Greenpeace flagship Rainbow Warrior for 11 weeks and took half within the evacuation of islanders from Rongelap Atoll.

French secret brokers bombed the Rainbow Warrior on 10 July 1985 and he wrote the guide Eyes of Fireplace: The Final Voyage of the Rainbow Warrior – the primary of 10 books.

In early 1987, he was arrested at gunpoint close to Canala, New Caledonia, for taking images of “nomadisation” fashion navy camps design to intimidate Kanak villagers looking for independence.

In 1993, Dr Robie was appointed as a lecturer and head of the journalism division on the College of Papua New Guinea. His college students printed the award-winning fortnightly newspaper Uni Tavur and so they coated the 1997 Sandline disaster when the navy commander arrested international mercenaries employed by the PNG authorities to wage struggle towards rebels on Bouvainville in a “coup that wasn’t a coup”.

PJR launched
Whereas at UPNG, Dr Robie launched Pacific Journalism Assessment, the one specialised analysis journal to research media points within the South Pacific, Asia-Pacific, Australia, and New Zealand.

As a journalist and journalism educator, he raises a priority that “most media organisations despatched somebody to cowl a selected occasion – they go in and so they come out. Shortly. It’s parachute journalism. Sadly, it isn’t a great way to cowl issues.

“Usually journalists who work on a parachute foundation don’t have sufficient background. They don’t have sufficient info or the sources to get a deeper understanding of the complicated nuances,” he says.

After serving Papua New Guinea as a journalism educator for greater than 5 years, he shifted to the College of South Pacific in Fiji.

In 1998, Dr Robie started his new journey as head of USP’s journalism division. He was instructing whereas actively writing information articles, tutorial journal articles, and books.

“One of many classes I discovered as a journalism educator is {that a} journalism mission is one of the simplest ways to study,” he says.

He cites the George Speight coup in Fiji in Might 2000 when his college students coated downtown riots in Suva, the seizure of the elected authorities in Parliament at gunpoint by Speight’s renegade troopers, and a protracted siege for example.

The PMC Venture – A brief documentary by Alistar Kata. Video: PMC

Disaster web site updates
The scholars up to date their web site Pacific Journalism On-line a number of instances each day at a time when the mainstream newspapers didn’t have web sites and so they produced the Wansolwara newspaper that the college tried to confiscate.

“What we had been doing is contributing to empowerment. To me, empowerment is actually necessary. It isn’t nearly writing a superb story, and issues like that. However empowering giving folks the knowledge that they should make choices in a democracy,” he says.

Dr Robie additionally gained his PhD in historical past/politics from the College of the South Pacific as effectively. After serving the nation for 5 years, he moved again to New Zealand.

Since 2002, Dr Robie joined AUT and have become director of the Pacific Media Centre in 2007 and remained editor of Pacific Journalism Assessment.

West Papuan singers
West Papuan college students sing Tanah Papua in honour of PMC director Professor David Robie earlier this month. Picture: PMC

He grew to become an affiliate professor in 2005 and a professor in 2012. Throughout his tutorial profession, Professor Robie gained quite a lot of awards nationally and internationally, together with the 2015 AMIC Asia Communication Award in Dubai, Vice-Chancellor’s Educating Excellence Award in 2011, the PIMA Particular Award for Contribution to Pacific journalism in 2011 and the PIMA Pacific Media Freedom award in 2005.

Dr Robie was additionally an Australian Press Council fellow in 1999, and has been on the editorial boards of Asia-Pacific Media Educator, Australian Journalism Assessment, Fijian Research, World Media Journal and Pacific Ecologist.

He’s at the moment the New Zealand consultant of the Asian Media, Data and Communication Centre (AMIC) and a life member. His books are listed at NZ Pen.

One factor will be certain. Social justice will stay excessive on his ongoing agenda.

Laurens Ikinia is a Papuan Masters in Communication Research pupil at Auckland College of Know-how who has been learning journalism. He’s on an internship with AUT’s Pacific Media Centre.


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