Foundation News

Talei Anderson 

Talei Anderson is the first person in her family to go to university. What’s more, she graduated … eventually.


Of Maori (Te Aupouri, Te Rarawa) and Fijian descent, the former Auckland Girls Grammar student started a Bachelor of Arts at the University of Auckland. After a year she realised the course was not for her.


Talei took a break from studying and travelled to America, where she worked and used the time to plan her future.  


“It was my first time away from home and, looking back, it really taught me a lot,” she says. “It gave me a break from everything and allowed me to focus on what I really wanted to do.”


When Talei returned she decided to study the one thing that had always interested her - writing. “Initially my  father wasn’t keen on me studying communications, but my trip to America helped me decide what I passionately wanted to do.”


After graduating with a double major in public relations and media from Unitec, the 25-yearold is further pursuing media and journalism studies through her post-graduate degree at AUT University. Talei’s goal is to be happy in

whatever job she does, although she is partial towards writing about sports.


“I just want to live a fulfilled life – I don’t want to look back with any regrets,” she says.


The normally confident and bubbly intern remembers her first big interview, with boxer Joseph Parker (who featured on the cover of SPASIFIK’s Spring 2014 Issue 62).


She admits she wasn’t that confident and recalls shaking hands with Joseph, then forgetting all three questions she was assigned to ask. Talei soon redeemed herself, regained her composure and completed the rest of the

interview without a hitch.


Talei feels she has gained more confidence with each interview during her time at SPASIFIK. Inspiring Talei is her grandfather, a former boxer. He has instilled the love of sport in Talei, something she is grateful for. She plays netball and touch and also enjoys reading about sport, although the one person Talei wishes she could have asked a question is Martin Luther King.


 “I would ask him for his thoughts on America getting its first African-American president.” Talei is enjoying her internship at SPASIFIK as it highlights the achievements of others from her Maori and Pacific background – which inspires her to work harder.

Story by Anuja Nadkarni


Anuja Nadkarni

Of Indian descent, 19-year-old Anuja Nadkarni, has completed her second year at AUT University and is already on the right path of working in print media – her dream job.


Anuja was born and raised in India and lived in

Fiji for a year before moving to New Zealand and settling in Mt Roskill in 2004. She enjoys writing and believes she inherited her craze from her late grandfather Mohan Nadkarni - one of India’s noted Hindustani musicologists

and music critics of The Times of India for over 50 years.


“I have a bit of a reputation to uphold if I want to go ahead with this career path; my grandfather reviewed  thousands of concerts, wrote more than 4,000 articles for various publications even won awards so I won’t get

off lightly if I don’t do a good job,” she laughs.


Her father Dev Nadkarni is a writer, a stakeholder and communications advisor for Pacific Trade and Invest in Auckland. Anuja’s desire to write led her to studying a Bachelor of Communications at AUT where she enjoys the practical side of the course.


“Being Indian, I think it’s become a cultural norm to go to university. It’s just the next step in life,” she says.


However, Anuja says she broke away from the traditional business career path her sister followed in hopes to fulfil her writing dream. “My sister followed the business career path, which is more traditional, but my parents were really accepting about my choice.”


While studying, Anuja has had internships working at Ecomailbox and Professional Public Relations as well as SPASIFIK.


“It’s important to get out there and get a feel of what you like, what you don’t like and an idea of where you want to go career wise,” she says.


“Communications is such a huge field. Working these different roles not  only gives me a taste of the real world, but I’m finding my place and getting experience at the same time.” Anuja has enjoyed her time working at SPASIFIK.


“I got to interview musician Sammy Johnson and how well he’s doing. I was so nervous but he was totally cool and chilled, it’s so much fun,” she says.


“I enjoyed SPASIFIK because I got to meet new people and write about their achievements. Being part of a publication regarded as representing a minority group is rewarding; It’s important to cover achievements and address issues specifically important to the Maori and Pacific community.


It’s awesome to be part of a company with inspiring values.” It’s still a bit early for Anuja to say where she

wants to be in the future but she aims to live a long and happy life. In the little spare time she has Anuja likes to paint.


“To be honest, I’m no good at it,” she says. “It just relaxes me. It’s one of those things you do and you just let go – an outlet of stress and frustration.”


Anuja is due to complete her University studies at the end of 2015. She is already well on her way to a successful career and living that happy life she strives for. “I want to look back with no regrets, no ‘should haves’ or ‘could haves’, so we’ll see how it goes … I guess.”

Story by Talei Anderson

Students thrive at SPASIFIK

SPASIFIK Magazine - Issue 65


AUT University journalism students HELEN HOPOI, LAUMATA LAUANO and FEDORA TOLOA each spent two weeks gaining work experience as SPASIFIK Foundation interns mid-year. They share their stories:

Helen Hopoi

I’m a 21-year-old ta’ahine Tonga, the youngest girl of seven and the first in my family to go to university. Like most Poly students, this isn’t just my degree, but my family’s degree also.


Journalism has stood out to me since taking media studies at Papatoetoe High School. It has always been something I enjoyed and looked forward to; that’s how I knew communication studies and journalism was the path I wanted to pursue.


There are four Pacific Islanders including myself out of 50 or so students majoring in journalism at AUT. Although the odds aren’t in our favour, to make it this far is an inspiration in itself.


New Zealand heavily lacks Polynesian reporters, so given the opportunity to be a part of the Oceania Media team for two weeks has been a blessing.


Not knowing what I was going to be faced with at first made me nervous, but it truly has been a fun ride.


This internship has opened doors for me to meet prominent and well-educated Pacific people which I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to meet otherwise. People like Tonga’s first psychiatrist Siale Foliaki and Samoa's Former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Misa Telefoni Retzlaff. They are examples that Pasifika people can achieve more than the bare minimum and that it is possible to fight against the stereotypes we are faced with daily.


It was encouraging to be amongst an inspirational bunch and I have Oceania Media and Innes Logan to thank for that.


This internship gave me a platform to write stories, an opportunity to get amongst what’s happening in the Pacific community and general work experience that’ll benefit me during my degree and further in life.


As a tertiary student ‘getting your foot in the door’ and ‘it isn’t what you know, but who you know’ are sayings I’ve heard throughout my studies. Thankfully, through SPASIFIK I have achieved a bit of both.


I have a semester to complete before I graduate at the end of 2015. I know journalism is a competitive career path to pursue, but I want to look back at my life with no regrets knowing I followed what I am most passionate about.


Being a Pacific female can be seen as a double disadvantage, but I urge my fellow Pasifika sisters to not let that turn you away from achieving what you want in life.

Laumata Lauano

From the very first day it was all go, covering the opening of Counties Manukau Health’s Pasifika Week and interviewing the organiser of the event to write a piece for My internship at Oceania Media, writing for SPASIFIK magazine and, has been a great experience.


With an easygoing, yet hardworking, environment that allowed me to grow as a journalist and as a writer in the two weeks I spent here, I was encouraged to approach stories from different angles and to write pieces that make people think.


There are some things that you have to learn through experience and Innes Logan, and the team at Oceania Media, allowed me to do just that. I was challenged, but also given good guidance and advice that will be invaluable in my journey going forward as a journalist and I am thankful for the opportunity.


New Zealand has the largest Polynesian city in the world in Auckland, but looking at the current agenda of the mainstream media you wouldn’t think it. Knowing that publications like SPASIFIK exist, in a world where local and regional stories are overlooked for international headlines, is not just comforting, but inspiring.


Coming from a theoretical-based background, I knew how to research, reference and regurgitate with some personal (allowed only if justified with academia) insight thrown in, however I was at a loss for practical, transferrable, skills that could be applicable after education and had little to no relevant experience.


AUT has opened a lot of doors for me; I’ve come from someone who was afraid to approach people, to the journalist who stays back during an event to get that important quote from someone that will help you tell important stories about people who are doing things.


The most important thing I’ve learned from my time at SPASIFIK, and indeed (so far) at AUT, including my time working for AUT’s Office of Pacific Advancement, is that in order to get somewhere you actually have to take action.


Unless you make a move you’re not going to improve. It sounds corny, possibly because it rhymes, but it’s 100% true. If you want to do something, do it. Don’t talk about it, get yourself the tools to make it happen and make it happen.

Fedora Toloa

As a soon-to-be graduate you are constantly questioned about your plans after university. 


I often reflect on my future, a somewhat daunting task for me. I find myself thinking of all the worst case scenarios that could happen after university – unemployment, being unable to help my family, or the job I do get isn’t a job in the field I studied three years for. 


Being in my final year, I understand that this future could in fact be mine. 


Thankfully, my internship at Oceania Media has helped alleviate my fears of my future in journalism. 


I truly appreciate the knowledge I’ve gained from my time here and I have Innes Logan, and the Oceania Media team to thank for that. 


Being able to work alongside such a wonderful team who are so hardworking, warm, and welcoming was an experience I am thankful for. 


Having the opportunity to meet such prominent Pacific people who do so much for our community has inspired me beyond measure. 


As a journalism student constantly surrounded by mainstream media, there is great comfort in knowing there is a platform for Pacific stories to be shared. 


Despite the short time I have spent here, the experience I’ve had over the past two weeks has given me fresh insight and motivated me to stick with journalism, paying no mind to my fears. 


Through my studies at AUT I have learned to see the beauty in writing stories, and the truth in this sentiment has only been magnified during my time at Oceania Media.

No Regrets

SPASIFIK Magazine - Issue 63


TALEI ANDERSON and ANUJA NADKARNI served internships together at the SPASIFIK office in November and December 2014. We asked both to write a feature about each other.

Fijian-Samoan journalist awarded for diversity reporting


AUT University journalism student TJ AUMUA interned with SPASIFIK Foundation in 2013 gaining valuable work experience.

TJ Aumua was presented with the SPASIFIK Magazine Prize and Storyboard Award for Diversity Reporting at AUT’s School of Communications Studies’ annual awards ceremony on April 12th.


Aumua, who has a passion for the Pacific and raising the presence of indigenous and minority voices in the media, made a stirring speech about the importance of Pacific issues being raised in the media.
“When people hear the word Pacific they think of sandy beaches and holiday destinations, but when I mention Pacific Islanders or Pacific people the mood changes,” she said, recalling how peoples’ eyes roll as they conjure up images of stereotypes.
In 2013 she completed an internship at Oceania Media, where she talked about letting these kinds of stereotypes get to her  - before shaking them off to strive for excellence no matter what.
In 2015 she was in Suva on a two-week Pacific Cooperation Foundation-funded exchange with Fiji news media and Fiji National University, while completing her Honours degree in Communications.
TJ is currently the Contributing Editor for the Pacific Media Watch Freedom Project, and will be returning to Fiji in late April on a climate change project with the University of the South Pacific journalism programme.
Fellow AUT Communications Studies’ award winner Joshua Iosefo has also featured in SPASIFIK Magazine before. Iosefo took home the MediaWorks Award for Television and Screen Production Graduate of the Year with his short film Forgotten Dawn Children on the Dawn Raids. 

Former Oceania Media intern nabs National Business Review Award


AUT University journalism student Anuja Nadkarni interned with SPASIFIK Foundation in 2015 gaining invaluable work experience and opportunites.

Anuja Nadkarni, a former Oceania Media intern, was presented with the National Business Review (NBR) Award at the annual AUT Awards ceremony on April 12th.

As an Outstanding Graduate in the Bachelor of Communication Studies Journalism Major, Nadkarni is also currently undertaking her Honours in Communications at AUT and will be going to Finland this year as part of the Inclusive Journalism Initiative.
Born in Mumbai, India, Nadkarni migrated to New Zealand with her family in 2002 and has also lived in Suva, Fiji- where her passion for the Pacific developed.
During her year of Honours Nadkarni will also be taking the Pacific Media Centre's 2016 Asia-Pacific Journalism Studies course.
Journalism appears to run in the family, and Nadkarni mentioned in her acceptance speech that she has a bit of a reputation to uphold, as not only is her father the editor-in-chief of the Indian Weekender, writer and sub-editor of the NBR and contributing editor and writer for various publications, but her grandfather was Mohan Nadkarni - one of India’s noted Hindustani musicologists and music critics of The Times of India for over 50 years.
As a prolific writer and hard worker Nadkarni is most definitely in a position to follow in her father and grandfather’s footsteps.

Either win...or learn


By Moana Ageli – Unitec Communications student and Oceania Media intern 

I’m a 22 year old New Zealand born Samoan, the eldest of five and the first in my family to attend university. I grew up in a family with a strong belief in God and our Samoan culture. My upbringing has instilled in me values such as family, respect and, most importantly, education.

My family moved from Samoa to New Zealand for better opportunities, further education and a better future for my generation and the generations to come, so I make sure I take all opportunities available.


As a Pacific Islander, ‘education is the key’ is a saying I have heard throughout my years of schooling. I have a few weeks left to complete my degree. A couple months after that I’ll be graduating. The thought of it is just so daunting. I often find myself asking the ‘what if’ questions. What if this degree wasn’t for me? What if I studied three years for nothing?  What if the job I get is not in the field I studied for?


The amount of doubt I have scares me, but then I think back to why I had chosen to undertake a degree in Communications in the first place - I want to encourage, inspire and inform our young Pacific leaders of tomorrow by sharing real life stories of our Pacific Island leaders of today. I wanted to be part of the voice that promotes and encourages Pacific people. I applied with Oceania Media, confident that this is the first step in helping me ‘get my foot in the door’. 

SPASIFIK is inspiring. The magazine covers issues important to both the Maori and Pacific community as well as leadership, talent and success stories that banish stereotypes associated with Pasifika people. 

Being part of an inspiring company is an opportunity and I’m grateful to them for having me on board. 


I’m still trying to find my place in the world, but I know with Oceania Media, I will gain valuable experience and insight into the industry that will help with future career decisions. 


One thing I am certain of in life is wanting to achieve happiness. Whatever it is, wherever it is, and however long it takes to find happiness with my place in the world, I’m going to do it.


“I’ll never lose, I’ll either win or learn.” – Nelson Mandela.