PMC photojournalism book offers ‘window’ into Pacific culture, issues

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Pacific Media Centre’s 10th anniversary in pictures. Video: Kendall Hutt/PMC

By Kendall Hutt in Auckland

The Pacific Media Centre kicked off its 10th anniversary celebrations last night with the launch of an investigative photojournalism book.

The book, Conflict, Custom & Conscience: Photojournalism and the Pacific Media Centre 2007-2017, was launched by Professor Berrin Yanıkkaya, head of AUT’s School of Communication Studies.

“We celebrate the launch of Conflict, Custom & Conscience. The book is an honest and moving account of some of the biggest issues in the Pacific region. It’s a fitting milestone to mark this important day,” Dr Yanıkkaya said.

READ MORE: The new photojournalism book

Dr Berrin Yanıkkaya launches Conflict, Custom & Conscience with PMC director Professor David Robie and Assistant Vice-Chancellor (Pasifika) Laumanuvao Winnie Laban last night. Image: Kendall Hutt/PMC

The book, co-edited by Jim Marbrook, Del Abcede, Natalie Robertson and David Robie, features the work of 15 photographers throughout the Asia-Pacific region, from Gil Hanly to Russian photographer Vlad Sokhin, who have been involved with the PMC since its founding in 2007.

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Marbrook, an award-winning documentary maker, told Asia Pacific Report the title speaks to three major themes in the book.

“It speaks to custom – the customary and indigenous world, while conflict defines a lot of news coverage in the area,” he said.

Award-winning documentary maker Jim Marbrook says Conflict, Custom & Conscience speaks to three major themes. Image: Kendall Hutt/PMC

Marbrook explained the idea of “conscience”, however, came through clearly on the part of the photographer.

‘Telling stories that weren’t being told’
“It’s the commitment to telling stories that weren’t being told before and in a respectful, ethical way.”

Conflict, Custom & Conscience is also divided into four themes – culture, environment, women, and politics, protest and conflict – through which Marbrook hoped the richness of the region would come through.

“Hopefully it gives a window into women’s rights issues, climate change, and the intersection between traditional culture and modernity, which is really interesting in the Pacific,” he said.

Marbrook also hoped people would gain an insight into the region and be “charmed” by the photographs.

“Some of the photographs are quite horrific, but I’m hoping they can tell stories that don’t often come through in a couple of column inches in a daily paper. I’m hoping it will pique their curiosity and they’ll go and look for more images from these photographers,” he said.

Professor Yanıkkaya also launched the latest edition of Pacific Journalism Review.

Those gathered also honoured the work of PMC founding director Professor David Robie and the photography of Pacific Journalism Review designer and TOKTOK newsletter editor, Del Abcede, which was on display.

PMC’s Del Abcede and favourite photograph of the ’10 Years On’ exhibition – a pair of young Palestinian women. Image: Kendall Hutt/PMC

‘Forefront of journalism’
“Professor David Robie has been the face of the centre since it opened. We applaud his energy, his dedication and commitment to the ideals of the centre and to keeping it running at a high level of professionalism,” said Dr Yanıkkaya.

“Since the centre was opened by Luamanuvao Winnie Laban in 2007, it has been at the forefront of journalism and human rights activism, reporting human rights violations in our region,” Dr Yanıkkaya added.

Luamanuvao Winnie Laban, who opened the PMC 10 years ago as Minister for Pacific Island Affairs, reflected:

“The spirit of the PMC is our ability to keep together and hang together. The reality is no canoe is on its own.

“The word Pasifika, the word Oceania, will tell you it is very important we honour that sacredness and connection that we have with each other, whether we are from Melanesia, Polynesia – which is Aotearoa New Zealand – and Micronesia.

“I particularly wanted to acknowledge Professor David Robie. For his vision and the team on the 10th anniversary of the launch of the Pacific Media Centre.

“Congratulations to your team and all of the beautiful frangipanis that you have developed that are now on our screens and on our radio,” Luamanuvao said.

Luamanuvao Winnie Laban 10 years on congratulates the “beautiful frangipanis” that have developed. Image: Del Abcede/PMC

“It’s indeed an honour to attend this celebration. To see the Pacific Media Centre in good heart 10 years on, still working hard to ensure that we have a quality, free, free media in the Pacific that continues the tradition you have established for critical thinking and shining a light into the dark spaces, telling the stories that need to be told.

‘Voice of humanity’
“I remember people saying, and as you know, there’s sometimes numerous shutdowns of the media and universities in the Pacific. People said when they heard the voice from here and Radio New Zealand, ‘it’s like the voice of humanity and hope when everything else has been closed down’.

“But today, the title of today’s programme and celebration is ‘Journalism under duress in Asia-Pacific’. This is evidence the Pacific Media Centre is still doing the important work that started a decade ago.

“You’ve continued to contribute to the economic, political, cultural and social development of our region by providing informed journalism and media research, raising awareness, showing respect for the cultures and environment of our region that we love so very much and in empowering our peoples of the Pacific.

“Thank you so much for your service, for your vision and leadership to our region and good luck for the next 10 years.”

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