Telum Talks To… Mariner Fagaiava-Muller, Assignments Desk Coordinator, 1 News

Telum Talks To… Mariner Fagaiava-Muller, Assignments Desk Coordinator, 1 News

Tell us about your current role and the main areas you are interested in covering?
Mālō e laumalie! I am on the assignments desk at 1 News as the first port-of-call for most of the news that comes in. I have kind of made the position my own. Māori and Pasifika stories are my bread and butter, so I try to promote what is happening in this community, my community, as much as possible. I often file stories for our website too.

You cover indigenous affairs and social issues. Can you talk about this area in New Zealand and why you are interested in it?
Indigeneity is having a reclamation moment throughout the world, including in Aotearoa. In terms of news coverage, this gap needs filling. This reclamation to me means Black / Indigenous People of Colour (BIPOC) telling stories about themselves - no middleman.

What indigenous issues do you feel are overlooked or underreported by the New Zealand media industry?
Heaps. But you could say the same for every other type of news, right? I would argue there should be more indigenous ‘lenses’ applied to mainstream news. For example, housing is driving a major discussion now, but accessible and affordable housing has long been a struggle for many people I know. What my community wants to know is if homes will be built to suit the Pasifika family model, which is not a 'two children, mum and dad' model. My community continues to grapple with homelessness, so what is this second-term government going to do about it? I could go on and on.

This month, you tweeted: “Don’t understate the power of indigenous journalists.” What does this statement mean to you?
It is hard to function as an indigenous person in the mainstream, walking between multiple worlds, and still do a kickarse job. Just to be a journalist in these COVID-19 times, under buckling pressure to circulate information as it comes to hand, with demand at an all-time high, is hard!

How do you see your role in the media industry driving social change?
I am a social justice warrior. In my capacity as a journalist, I take a different approach to advocacy, through fairness and balance. I have a responsibility to the village behind me. I cannot stand by and let certain gaps widen or bad behaviour go unnoticed. For me, journalism and justice go hand-in-hand.

What has been a favourite story you have worked on in your career, so far?
A project that I am working on right now. I can't say too much about it except that it will basically put brown excellence on show for the world to see.

You started working in the media industry in August 2020. How have you found the New Zealand media industry so far?
I am proud of myself for what I have accomplished so far. To start at TVNZ 1 at 19-years-old, then attain the opportunities I’ve had since, is a testament to the people and places that have raised me. On top of work, I am in my penultimate year studying a conjoint degree. It’s a delicate balance, but my cup is overflowing with gratitude. If I’m not challenged, I’m not changing.

What advice would you give to people wanting to become a Journalist or Writer?
John Campbell, also known as Uncle Sione, once told me the thing that sets you apart from everyone else in the room is you! And to that I say, your peers might stand with two feet on the floor, but you stand for more. So, be more. You sing your song. Tu’a ‘ofa.

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