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Matthew Manukuo, BA: Honouring Pacific values in storytelling

Matthew Manukuo 20twenties headshot
Matthew Manukuo.

Communication Studies graduate, Matthew Manukuo overcame brain cancer as a teenager to go on to become a multimedia journalist for the Pacific Media Network, highlighting issues facing communities and giving Pacific people a voice.

questions and answer 'QTell us about your reaction to receiving the award, and what it means to you

I was quite surprised hearing I had been nominated by our Pacific Humanities support staff Sia Mata'afa – who has always championed Pacific students. The award reaffirms all the hard work and struggle I went through while navigating leaving home, living under COVID-19 restrictions and studying at a tertiary level. If I told myself back in 2019, I would have completed my studies, learnt and experienced a whole bunch, and be recognised by the place that gave me that opportunity, it would be hard to believe.

questions and answer 'QWhat have you done since graduating and what are you doing now?

I moved back to Auckland after graduating in 2022, where I work as a multimedia journalist for Pacific Media Network (PMN). I started working for PMN when I was in Dunedin as an intern in 2021 and have continued with them ever since. My day-to-day involves telling stories from our Pacific communities around the country and the Pacific region – highlighting issues facing our communities or celebrating stories of our people. I also read the news bulletins on air. Last week I returned from the New Zealand Government’s Pacific Mission, as our media delegation followed Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters and Dr Shane Reti across Tonga, the Cook Islands and Samoa.

questions and answer 'QWhere does the inspiration and motivation for your work come from?

I want to give my Pacific people a voice that is true, fair and authentic. Every day, I get to tell our people’s stories through articles, news pieces, radio bulletins, in a way that honours our Pacific values in storytelling, which is so important. I come from a Niue background, which is one of the smaller Pacific populations. I also spent almost a year in hospital being treated for brain cancer. In both instances, I know what it's like to feel unheard. So in this job, it pushes me to give people who feel unheard an opportunity to share their story.

questions and answer 'QWhat were the highlights of your time at Otago, and has it helped you follow your career path?

The sense of community! It's one of Pacific people’s core values, so that being a strong aspect living in Dunedin was so good. The student community is unlike anything I've experienced. Everyone knows everyone! Meeting people from around New Zealand, you could spark up a conversation with anyone. Playing Rugby League for the Uni team helped me make friends and open up to more experiences. The restaurant's I lived above gave us food during the pandemic. Things like that helped shape my perspective on how life is outside of Auckland, and how beautiful people can be, which is needed in my job.

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