Bougainville News: One of PNG’s pioneer media personality from Bougainville Justin Kili has passed away

RD

 The late Kili  was a popular radio personality who has earned the name the “Voice of PNG.”

One of the country’s highly decorated and celebrated media personality and industry managers, Justin Kili MBE passed away early this morning at the Vunapope hospital in East New Britain.

Family members and close family friends confirmed with  that the late Kili was sick and taken to the hospital. Details of the actual caused of his death could not be confirmed at this stage.

The late Kili was heading the National Broadcasting Corporation’s (NBC) East New Britain Branch before his passing.

Popularly known as JK, he has served in the different mediums of media including television, radio and newspaper and has held senior positions in the industry.

His career goes back to the late 1970s where he started in radio.

Among many colorful achievements, Kili, created the first ever radio music program, CHM SUPERSOUND in 1986, which was recorded in PNG and broadcast in PNG and aboard. That year, he also created the first ever radio music countdown in the country, The Weekly PNG Top 20, on Kalang FM.

Kili was also host of PEPSI FIZZ, a national TV show of PNG and Pacific Music that was produced and broadcast by EMTV, weekly.

He also created the first ever Music Awards in the country, the Yumi FM PNG Annual Music Awards in 2004.

The late JK started as a reporter studying radio journalism in Sydney, Australia in the 1970s. He then trained with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in London and traveled to the United States as a journalism fellow, cosponsored by the PNG and the United States governments.

The late Kili  was a popular radio personality who has earned the name the “Voice of PNG.”

Ten years ago, Kili’s career centered on chasing the latest buzz. He says, “I was hooked, as everyone else is, on the daily consumption of news.” But in 2001, after a meeting with Patty Debenham, SeaWeb’s coral program director, Kili began reporting on the many threats facing his nation’s ocean, including coral bleaching.

Then, Kili was the executive officer of the Secretariat of the Media Council of Papua New Guinea and manager of the Media for Development Initiative (MDI), an AusAID project the Media Council manages on behalf of the PNG government.

Thanks to Kili’s efforts, the PNG Media Council partnered with SeaWeb to develop media fellowships and training workshops.

In an interview that was published on Seaweb Online, the late Kili said of his interest in the protection of marine life.

Because I come from a coastal community, Bougainville, I’ve always had a keen interest in the ocean. I always read articles and government information on the reefs and coral bleaching as well as dynamite fishing, but I really didn’t understand how they related to our oceans in PNG until I started working with SeaWeb. My interest wasn’t piqued until later in life, but it’s something I’m strengthening by speaking with our local scientists and ocean experts.”

The late Kili went on to arrange with former UPNG Journalism head Leo Wafiwa to introduce the Environmental Journalism program. They promoted the concept in one PINA meeting in Honiara and universities in the region are now training student journalists how to continuously and effectively engage in environmental journalism in the region.

The late Kili leaves behind 8 children, 6 boys and two girls.

BACKGROUND

Justin Kili, a veteran journalist in Papua New Guinea (PNG), has travelled the world chasing stories. He began his 35 years as a reporter studying radio journalism in Sydney, Australia. He then trained with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in London and traveled to the United States as a journalism fellow, cosponsored by the PNG and U.S. governments. Today Kili is a radio personality who has earned the name the “Voice of PNG.”

Six years ago, Kili’s career centred on chasing the latest buzz. He says, “I was hooked, as everyone else is, on the daily consumption of news.” But in 2001, after a meeting with Patty Debenham, SeaWeb’s coral program director, Kili began reporting on the many threats facing his nations ocean, including coral bleaching.

Kili is currently the executive officer of the Secretariat of the Media Council of Papua New Guinea and manager of the Media for Development Initiative (MDI), an AusAID project the Media Council manages on behalf of the PNG government. Thanks to Kili’s efforts, the PNG Media Council has partnered with SeaWeb to develop media fellowships and training workshops. About 20 journalists attended the latest of these, which was held Oct. 22 to 26 in Alotau, Milne Bay Province, PNG.

Papua New Guinea and Fiji Journalists
Justin Kili (far right) joins other journalists from the Asia-Pacific region on SeaWeb’s media fellowship that focuses on ocean science and marine issues in their region and around the world. (Photo: Dawn Martin)

Q & A with Justin Kili

What got you interested in ocean issues?
Because I come from a coastal community, Bougainville, I’ve always had a keen interest in the ocean. I always read articles and government information on the reefs and coral bleaching as well as dynamite fishing, but I really didn’t understand how they related to our oceans in PNG until I started working with SeaWeb. My interest wasn’t piqued until later in life, but it’s something I’m strengthening by speaking with our local scientists and ocean experts.

Can you tell us what your community perceives to be the biggest threats facing your ocean environment?

The problem is that members of my country do not understand the bigger picture. The multitude of threats facing our ocean planet is not easily conveyed to my community. We live miles away from any urban setting and our waters are pristine and unpolluted. We have not yet experienced overfishing on a massive scale. In PNG, we have developed a sustainable ethic and we have never taken too much from our oceans. It’s very difficult for my people to comprehend the fact that our tuna fishery is crashing because our fishing traditions have been passed down through generations and when we go to the sea, we only take what we need to feed ourselves and our families. We try very hard not to abuse our oceans, but that doesn’t mean our resources are safe from international commercial fisheries that target tuna and other species.

The Pacific region has been said to be decades ahead of other nations in managing their ocean resources. How do you share your environmental successes with the rest of the world?

Sea Star - Papua New Guinea.  SeaWeb Ocean VoicesOne of the things the Media Council has been working on for the past five years is providing further training to journalists in this country. In doing this, our journalists will eventually understand environmental issues. The big problem that we in the media in this country have is that we tend to shy away from environmental stories, often because they are not clear or the information is too scientific. To date, we have cultivated relationships with non-governmental organizations to train our journalists in environmental issues. In addition, our journalists are training our scientists on how to write and speak to the media.

What do you see as your role in ocean conservation?

I would like to be the champion of ocean conservation in this country. I would like to be the first one to succeed at this. But this depends on our ability to get the media to see bigger environmental issues. Right now, most of us are just worried about what we can provide for our families, and in doing so we are overlooking the impacts that international fisheries are having on our environment. In the future, I would like to see more in-depth coverage of these issues and a clearer understanding of ocean conservation.

Have you noticed a change in your islands resources in the past decade? Please explain.

Overfishing of our oceans is becoming more obvious—much more evident in that fishermen are not catching enough of certain species of fish, and if they are, they are having to travel miles farther out into the ocean to find the fish. On Bougainville, villagers are catching younger tuna fish and this is dangerous for the future of tuna fishing in PNG.

We know the PNG Media Council will participate in the climate change workshop to be held in Manus and has already hosted a visit to Bougainville Island, a Province of PNG, by CNN to film the sinking atolls. Can you explain why these conservation-related events are important and how the PNG Media Council got involved in them?

Mangrove shoot - SeaWeb Ocean VoicesThe Media Council is a very important hub for information distribution in the country and to the Pacific, and we have built quite a reputation of being very effective in this area. Overseas organizations now come to us to organize or facilitate for them. For example, I was contacted by ITN–Television in London, which wanted to film the Carteret Islands on Bougainville that are sinking. After the worldwide broadcast of the report, I got another call from CNN, which came over early this year to film on Carteret Island, giving more international exposure to the plight of the people who are losing their homes and livelihoods by the day because their islands are sinking under rising seas.

World exposure has now brought about interest and worldwide attention. Now our own government, with help from Australia and other countries, is taking positive steps to assist the Autonomous Government of Bougainville to resettle the people of Carteret Islands to the mainland. The workshop will be crucial to the Media Council’s efforts to continue making environmental issues more relevant for reporters, enabling them to effectively report on the issues of climate change and global warming.

If you could tell the international press one thing about the environment in PNG,
what would it be?

Our environment is still pretty much intact. But we need to communicate better to the world so they assist us in carrying out effective campaigns. We need to focus on preventing damage to our natural world rather than waiting to fix the wrongs.

The Media Council is working with regional university students to establish environmental journalism programs. Why is this important?

Ocean Scene Papua New Guinea - SeaWeb Ocean VoiceTo effectively report and write about environment issues, one needs to appreciate and understand the magnitude of the dangers and the damage being caused to the environment. I strongly believe that education on the imminent issues must start at the university level, where my aim is to have environmental science students take up journalism as a minor subject, and journalism students also take environmental journalism as a minor. The University of PNG has already shown interest in introducing this type of curricula. This is very good news and a winning effort by the Council to publicize and create awareness for environmental issues.

By:
Corinne Knutson, Coral Program, SeaWeb

Photo Credits:
Justin Kili, Sea Star, Mangrove Shoots, Coastline, Motupore Island, Papua New Guinea – Liz Neeley, Coral Program, SeaWeb.

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