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Conflict in West Papua: The contrast between historic and contemporary media coverage in New Zealand

Volume 21, Issue 1

May, 2015

From page
230
to page
240
Leadbeater, M. (2015). Conflict in West Papua: The contrast between historic and contemporary media coverage in New Zealand. Pacific Journalism Review, 21(1): 230-240.
WEST PAPUA
Author(s): Maire Leadbeater
Publication date: 
May, 2015

Many New Zealanders, even in politically aware circles, have a limited understanding of West Papua and frequently confuse the Indonesian-controlled territory with its neighbour Papua New Guinea. This reflects the limited mainstream media coverage of the territory and of the ongoing conflict that is taking place there. However, in 1962 and again in 1969, the New Zealand media gave considerable attention to the crises that enveloped West Papua and determined its subsequent destiny. The territory’s Pacific location was often highlighted and the statements of West Papuan leaders were reported. The year 1962 saw escalating Indonesian military intervention in the territory and subsequently the signing of the controversial US-brokered New York Agreement between the Netherlands and Indonesia. In 1969 Indonesia conducted an ‘Act of Free Choice’ which was widely seen by external observers as a fraudulent act of self-determination. This article gives examples of this historic coverage and considers what might be done to bring about change and to bring West Papua back into the frame as a Pacific neighbour.