AUT award winners bound for Fiji on ‘Bearing Witness’ mission

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Spasifik Magazine Prize and Storyboard Award winner Ami Dhabuwala (right) at the AUT School of Communication studies awards last night. With her are Spasifik editor and publisher Innes Logan and Pacific Media Centre Advisory Board chair Associate Professor Camille Nakhid. Image: Dan Cole/Toppix

By Queenie Jose of Te Waha Nui

Two Auckland University of Technology students who took top communication studies prizes at an awards ceremony last night are off to Fiji next month on a climate change “Bearing Witness” project.

Julie Cleaver and Kendall Hutt were rewarded for their journalism at the School of Communication Studies annual awards event.

Radio NZ International Prize winner Kendall Hutt with RNZI reporter Alex Perrottet, a former masters graduate from AUT. Image: Dan Cole/Toppix

Cleaver, editor of AUT’s magazine Debate and a freelance writer for The New Zealand Herald, won the school award for final year Bachelor of Communication Studies excellence in communication theory.

Hutt, who works for AUT’s Pacific Media Centre as contributing editor of Pacific Media Watch, won the Radio NZ International Prize for top student in Asia-Pacific journalism.

They will fly to Fiji in the mid-semester break for a two-week assignment for the PMC in partnership with the Pacific Centre for the Environment and Sustainable Development (PaCE-SD) and the Regional Pacific Journalism programme at the University of the South Pacific, and AUT’s Te Ara Motuhenga documentary collective.

“This is the second year running that we have done this mission and we would like to build it up to cover several Pacific countries, especially the ‘frontline’ climate change nations,” said Professor David Robie, who initiated the project.

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Cleaver, who is of Canadian and Māori descent, said her passion and interest for media topics were more rewarding than getting a good grade.

Raising awareness
The award would encourage her to raise awareness of other cultures in New Zealand.

Hutt, who travelled to Finland last year, said the journey had broadened her journalism horizons.

Hundreds of people packed AUT’s function hall for the ceremony, hosted by advertising supremo Mike Hutcheson, who told guests he welcomed the recognition of creativity and diversity.

Hutcheson’s comic anecdotes left guests amused and inspired — “be the voice of creativity”, he said.

Other awardees included former AUT postgraduate journalism student Ami Dhabuwala, who won the Spasifik Magazine and Storyboard Award for diversity reporting. The storyboard — a traditional East Sepik carving — was donated a decade ago by Dr Robie.

Her trip to Fiji last year during the first Bearing Witness mission and a passion for global journalism had won her this award, she said.

“If we want a diverse culture in New Zealand we should have more international students address or share knowledge in other cultures.”

Scholarships awarded
Communication Studies postgraduate scholarships were awarded to Shirin Brown, Jayakrishnan Sreekumar, Rebecca Trelease and Chao Zhang.

Another AUT journalism graduate, Janie Cameron, was named top postgraduate student in creative practice and won The New Zealand Herald prize. She shared her insight, telling the audience that for such a “small country we have a lot of problems” and her role as a journalist was a “unique voice for the voiceless”.

Ophelia Buckleton won the National Business Review award for outstanding journalism graduate in the Bachelor of Communication Studies degree.

The awardees were given cash, a plaque of recognition and internships based on their specialisation.

Queenie Jose is a final year Bachelor of Communication Studies student journalist working on Te Waha Nui.

Communication theory prize winner Julie Cleaver (second from left) with her family and Professor David Robie (right) at the AUT media school awards last night. Image: Del Abcede/PMC
Storyboard winner Ami Dhabuwala with friend Sagar Patel (from left) and sister-in-law Bhoomi and brother Pariket Dhabuwala. Image: Del Abcede/PMC
Prize-winner Pacific Media Watch contributing editor Kendall Hutt (second from right) and her family at the awards last night. Image: Del Abcede/PMC
The Pacific “bula” shirt brigade at the AUT communication studies awards last night. Image: Del Abcede/PMC
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