The launch of Te Rito – a unique cadetship and development programme charged with fostering and developing talented journalists from communities traditionally underrepresented in media is a step closer with the appointment of Te Rito's programme manager/kaihautū.
The Te Rito partnership of NZME, Māori Television, Discovery, and Pacific Media Network – with support from NZ On Air, have announced Gesa Luamanu has accepted the role.
Luamanu has extensive corporate media experience including more than 10 years in senior content, production, and management roles at Sky TV.
Most recently, Gesa has been leading the journalism, factual and documentary content development at Oriana TV.
A proud Samoan, Luamanu is a dedicated advocate for Aotearoa's Māori and Pasifika communities, embracing Te Tiriti o Waitangi and tino rangatiratanga.
NZME's Head of Cultural Partnerships, Lois Turei, said Luamanu's impressive track record in strategic planning, project delivery and managing stakeholder interests, made her a top contender for the role.
"However, those skills - critical for leading this kaupapa - are underpinned by a deeply entrenched set of cultural values.
"And this was a deal-breaker for us. Gesa will strive to create an environment where cadets will recognise how their diverse voices and thinking will strengthen and enrich their journalistic skills."
Head of News for Māori Television Service Wena Harawira said Luamanu was one of the few women in the industry with the cultural, management and media experience necessary to establish Te Rito.
"We're very lucky to have her on board our waka charting this new course for media in Aotearoa New Zealand."
Te Rito is an unprecedented collaboration between the four media organisations with support from NZ On Air via the Public Interest Journalism Fund.
NZ On Air's Head of Journalism, Raewyn Rasch, said she was looking forward to seeing how the project would develop over the year.
"Te Rito will have a profound transformation effect on New Zealand journalism. The cultural collaboration is truly remarkable," she said.
Pacific Media Network CEO, Don Mann, said it was important for Te Rito to have a kaihautū who not only knows what quality journalism looks like, but who is also an exceptional project manager with the ability to bring together people from diverse communities.
"Gesa possesses all these qualities," he said.
Sarah Bristow, Director of News, Newshub at Discovery NZ said Newshub was immensely proud to be a part of Te Rito and was delighted to have Gesa take up the programme manager role.
"Gesa is an exceptional leader, and we look forward to working alongside her to create Aotearoa's journalists of the future."
Luamanu's first task will be to support the hiring, training, and development of 25 journalists from communities traditionally underrepresented in newsrooms around New Zealand.
"I see our largest challenge will be recruiting Māori, Pasifika and diverse cadets into journalism as it's not seen as an attractive industry," said Luamanu.
"One of our big goals will be to create a vibrant, quality and safe learning environment for our cadets to have a life-long passion in journalism amidst the chaos of Covid and challenges of modern-day life."
Luamanu starts in her role immediately.
"I'm honoured and blessed to be part of the Te Rito cadetship programme that will awhi and tautua the next generation of Māori, Pasifika and diverse journalists," she said. "One of the beautiful things about journalism at its premise is storytelling."
"Te Rito embodies that same spirited passion to be creative and achieve anything in life against all odds. Our kaumatua have so much knowledge to offer and like my Mama, I hope to follow that same path of service in support of our cadets and all those involved.
"Le Atua faamanuia i le matou malaga, ia tau nuu ma le manuia."
Cadetship applications are now open, with strong interest from potential cadets throughout Aotearoa already registering. Apply at teritojournalism.co.nz