Monday, November 13, 2006

Solomon Islands set for PINA 2007 in May

Dates and theme were announced today for Solomon Islands hosting of the region’s biggest news media event, the 2007 Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Biennial Convention. The host Media Association of Solomon Islands (MASI) and the PINA executive board confirmed the convention will be held in Honiara, the Solomon Islands capital, 24-26 May.Pre-convention media training workshops start 21 May.

“The Role of Pacific Media in Economic Growth” is the theme, the joint statement from PINA and MASI said.The convention will be held in conjunction with the 25th anniversary celebrations of the Solomon Star, the country’s award-winning daily newspaper.PINA president Ken Clark said on behalf of the PINA executive board: “We have been very impressed by the effective organising of the event by the Media Association of the Solomon Islands.”Mr Clark said some early communication snags were overcome and added:“We look forward to meeting with our Pacific Island media colleagues in Honiara in May next year and to continuing with the effective strengthening of all the media organisations involved and the fundamental principles of media freedom, freedom of access to information, and professional training in media matters.”

MASI president John Lamani, the founder and publisher of the Solomon Star, said arrangements in Honiara are well advanced.“The Solomon Islands news media are looking forward to hosting regional and international colleagues and providing an outstanding convention on an important and timely theme,” he said.

A busy programme of workshops, convention sessions and industry group meetings for radio, TV, print media and national associations is being finalised.As well there will be lots of the local hospitality for which Solomon Islands is famous as the Hapi Isles. Next May’s meeting is only the second time the Solomon Islands has hosted the PINA Convention, with the last event in Honiara in 1989.Mr. Lamani said a MASI convention secretariat has already been set up in Honiara, with fundraising well advanced under fundraising committee chairperson Catherine Lamani, of PAOA FM. Major international, regional and local sponsors are also confirmed or being secured, and there is big local support.“Block bookings of about 150 rooms have been confirmed in two hotels, complete with conference facilities,” Mr. Lamani said.Special affordable fare arrangements are also being made with Solomon Airlines.

Invitations to international and regional news media, PINA partners, and associated organisations are about to be sent out by MASI.Mr. Lamani said MASI is pleased with arrangements so far, particularly with support from development and donor partners.PINA’s executive board has appointed the television industry representative on the board, Jeane Matenga, of Cook Islands, to liaise with MASI.Ms Matenga, the chief executive of the Pitt Media Group (Cook Islands Television, Radio Cook Islands, Cook Islands Herald, Cook Islands Times), is already working closely with the Solomon Islands on the arrangements.She is also regularly briefing Mr. Clark (Fiji TV), vice president Elenoa ‘Amanaki (Tonga Broadcasting Corporation), and the other PINA executives, Marc Neil-Jones (Vanuatu Daily Post, print media), Pesi Fonua (Tonga Media Council, national associations) and Matai ‘Akauola (Fiji Broadcasting Corporation, radio).MASI and PINA have said there will now be regular announcements on arrangements so that everyone is kept fully up to date on what will be an exciting event for all the region's news media.