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Media Trailblazer, Nina Ratulele Lomas Dies In Suva

Mrs Lomas passed away in hospital aged 60 after a determined two-year fight to try to beat cancers.
02 Dec 2019 12:53
Media Trailblazer,  Nina Ratulele Lomas Dies In Suva
Nina Ratulele Lomas was a working mother. Daughter Losalini, now grown up, teaches English to refugee widows in the Middle East.

A woman who headed Pacific Islands News Association’s Secretariat in its heyday and won international recognition for her media freedom and environmental journalism work died in Suva Friday.

Nina Ratulele Lomas passed away in hospital aged 60 after a determined two-year fight to try to beat cancers.

Nina was the wife of Fiji Sun Publisher/chief executive officer Peter Lomas.

He recalled yesterday: “Nina was working at the then substantial Islands Business magazine group when she was asked by the PINA leadership to take over the new PINA Secretariat in 1992 after its start up faltered.

Media journey

“She worked tirelessly with visionary PINA leaders such as Tavake Fusimalohi (Tonga), William Parkinson (Fiji), Monica Miller. (American Samoa), Muliaga Jean Malifa (Samoa), John Lamani (Solomon Islands) and Floyd Takeuchi (American Pacific) to build a PINA that both brought together and served the news media across the whole region.

“It lived up to its founding principles of promoting and defending freedom of expression and information, training and development and professional fellowship.

“Nina organised 30 to 40 training events year after year and coordinated the biggest annual conferences the Pacific Islands news media have known.

“These embraced from right out to the East (French Polynesia) to the far West (Papua New Guinea).

“She organised the first regional investigative reporting activities, such as the ground breaking joint TV-print project by journalists from the Samoas, Fiji and Vanuatu supported by Floyd Takeuchi in Honolulu and headed by Monica Miller from Pago Pago.

“They exposed the untold story of deaths of Pacific Islanders working on foreign fishing boats in international waters.

“It led to increased accountability over this.

“Women in the media, young journalists programmes, training of trainers, PINA Nius Online news exchange, PINA Nius monthly newsletter, PINA awards, developing national associations, senior journalists covering major international conferences for the membership, Anglophone-Francophone exchanges and the fabulous Sasakawa Japanese islands-Pacific Islands journalism exchanges. These were all also part of the non-stop PINA mix.

“Nina spoke Japanese and through her close connection with her friend Rieko Hayakawa, of the Sasakawa Pacific Island Nations Fund, scores of Pacific Islands journalists visited Japan.

“But not only to Tokyo, more importantly to Japan’s subtropical islands where they saw media and development in a more relevant context.

International recognition

“Nina’s work won international recognition.

“She was awarded the International Green Pen Award in Dhaka in 1999 for developing Asia-Pacific environmental journalism long before it was fashionable.

“She was deputy secretary-general of the Asia-Pacific Forum of Environmental Journalists and held the APFEJ congress in Fiji in 2000 despite the ongoing Speight coup.

“The Aussies and Kiwis stayed away.

“But Nina shifted the congress to Nadi and persuaded all her Asian friends to come to Fiji despite what was happening in Suva.

Nina’s advocacy

“She was elected chair of the council of IFEX, the global network of freedom of expression organisations.

“This followed her daily advocacy on behalf of PINA for Pacific Islands journalists or media organisations facing pressure.

“She was also the first Pacific Islander invited by UNESCO to give the keynote address at its big IPDC conference in Paris.

“Nina decided to step aside from PINA in 2003 after Australian consultants engineered the merger of PINA and the Pacific Islands Broadcasting Association.

“Nina felt that this was time for new people to set the new direction.

“She then did media consultancy work in Cook Islands, Samoa and Solomon Islands before focusing on family and vanua back home.

“Sadly since the PINA – PIBA merger the Pacific Islands news media have fragmented into different groups rather than consolidated with PINA itself focusing on being a news service.

“Some major newspapers which were once the backbone of PINA are no longer PINA members. Some publishers have formed their own regional association based in Samoa.

“Nina was saddened to see all this.”

Mr Lomas said funeral arrangements for his wife will be confirmed once the arrival of family from overseas is confirmed.

Feedback: maraia.vula@fijisun.com.fj

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