BY IRWIN ANGIKI
Solomon Islands journalists have won four of six awards in the inaugural Pasifika Environews awards, announced yesterday by President of Fiji, His Excellency Ratu Wiliame Katonivere in Suva to celebrate World Ocean Day.
They are Charles Piringi (In-Depth Solomons), Ben Bilua (Island Sun), Moffat Mamu Ghala (Solomon Star) and Irwin Angiki (Island Sun).
The Solomon Islands Media Association (MASI) is over the moon about it with a jubilant president, Gina Kekea reacting to the announcement with a huge “congratulations!”.
“As MASI president, I am proud of the achievements of the Solomon Island journalists in the regional award,” she said.
“These achievements are what MASI wants to see and hear and are proud of. Solomon Islands have very good journalists working in a stringent environment and unfavorable working conditions.
“Despite the challenges, the determination and passion by the journalists is what I as MASI president is proud of.
“I congratulate the winners again and wish them all the best in bringing out the stories that matter to the people, no matter what.
The inaugural Pasifika Environews awards is a collaboration between the Pacific Islands News Association (PINA), Internews Earth Journalism Network (EJN), Office of the Pacific Ocean Commissioner (OPOC), and the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP).
The two other awards were won by journalists from Fiji.
The awards honour exemplary reporting on environment, ocean, and climate change in the Pacific, a media statement from the Pasifika Environews yesterday said.
Investigative journalist Charley Piringi won the SPREP Best Environment story for his investigative piece on mining in Guadalcanal.
“As an environmental and investigative journalist, this is one of the stories I am so keen on working on. It took me six months to work on the story alone,” he says. “Gathering information for the story was challenging especially when there were officials who were not so willing to share information, and there was also the challenge of traveling down to remote Guadalcanal where the mining operation was happening. I traveled two times to the remote village for interviews, and at some point, I was not allowed to enter the mine site to do my work. Simply, it is not easy working on environmental stories that involve mining and logging in the country.”
Makereta Komai, Pacific Islands News Association Manager and PACNEWS Editor, commended the winners and journalists who submitted entries.
“We were impressed with the quality of the entries received from journalists across the region. We thank our partners – Internews Earth Journalism Network, Office of the Pacific Ocean Commissioner, and the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme for supporting this inaugural Pasifika Environews Awards,” Komai said.
The winners of the three main categories will each receive USD$1,000 prize money while the runners-up will each receive USD$500.
The winners of the Pasifika Environews Awards are:
• SPREP Best Environment Story – Charles Piringi, Solomon Islands
• Runner Up- Sera Sefeti, Fiji Islands
• OPOC Best Ocean Story- Vijay Narayan, Fiji Islands
• Runner Up- Ben Bilua, Solomon Islands
• Pasifika Environews Best Climate Change Story- Moffat Mamu Ghala, Solomon Islands
• Runner Up- Irwin Angiki, Solomon Islands