Wansolwara founding editor Stanley
Simpson and staff in the newsroom.




How Wansolwara began
By Philip Cass

When I first joined the University
of the South Pacific journalism
programme in 1995, there was no
real outlet for journalism students'
work or any way for them to
show what they could do, short of
actually working for the media or
finding a rare work experience

I had started Felix Culpa, a
successful journalism student
newspaper, at Central Queensland
University in Australia and
decided that we could do the same
sort of thing at USP.

Now, common sense would have
dictated that I start the paper with
second or third year group of
students who were familiar with
desktop publishing, but I felt that
what was needed was a group of
students who would stay with the
paper for a few years and grow
with it.

I therefore decided that I would
give the project to what was then
the first year class. They were,
thankfully, enthusiastic about the
idea and Francois Turmel, who
was the course leader, gave his
blessing to the project and
persuaded the French embassy to
fund us.

We didn't actually have a name
for the paper and the suggestion
that we call it the Stanley Weekly
was not met with complete
enthusiasm by Mr Stan Simpson.
However, it occurred to me that an
expression I had heard in PNG
might be appropriate - Wansolwara.

Wansolwara expresses the idea
that all of us who were born in or
live in the Pacific are bound
together by the ocean, whether
our home is Fiji, Papua New
Guinea, Tahiti, the Marianas - or
even Australia and New Zealand!
USP is home to students and
staff from all over the great ocean,
so Wansolwara seemed a perfect

Getting the first edition out was
not easy. The students were being
thrown in at the deep end with
everything - writing the stories,
selling the ads, taking photos,
scanning images, selling ads and
organising the printing. However,
the students were enthusiastic and
determined to get the paper out.
In the end, the first edition came
out late, we didn't have many ads
and some of the scanned photos
produced people who were two
inches wide and 12 feet high, but
the important thing was that the
students had proved that they
could do it.

Francois gave his unqualified
support as did the staff of the
USP media centre who put up
with us living under their feet.
I'm sure Gerald Farkas, Pat
Craddock and Mara Fulmer
gritted their teeth on several
occasions, but without their
tolerance and support we
wouldn't have got through the
post-production phase.

When the paper finally appeared,
the reaction was extremely
favourable. Our aim had been to
strike a balance between campus
news and a broader range of
stories about issues affecting
everybody in the Pacific. In the
first issue, for instance, we had a
piece on the highly questionable
use of skin lightening creams.

By 1997 we were in a stronger
financial footing, although as
usual with newspapers, the
advertising bills were a long time
coming in. We had a better
handle on the technology and had
begun to tackle some big issues
such as the civil war on
Bougainville, the role of fa'fine
in Samoa and the rise in the
number of suicides in Fiji. We
had also begun to be noticed by
the student community. Our
coverage of some very
questionable goings on at student
functions and financial
irregularities in the student union
led to one of our staff, Mithleshni
Gurdayal, being threatened -
always a sign that the our
reporting was not only true, but
causing embarrassment.

By the time I was getting ready to
leave for England at the end of
1997, Sophie Dutertre had joined
us and been roped into the
production team.

David Robie took over as course
leader in 1998. Since then David
has has changed the paper's
appearance (I was rather fond of
that vertical masthead) and created
an online edition, but it continues
its function of giving students a
vigorous outlet for their work and
for covering the issues that are
important to students. Francois
and I look forward to getting our
copies of the paper here in
England. It keeps us in touch with
what is happening at USP and
with the Wansolwara we left

Philip Cass, Lecturer in Journalism, USP, 1995-97

David Robie, Journalism Coordinator, USP, 1998-2000


  • Vol 4 No 3 September to No 4 November 1999: Editor: Alison Ofotalua (Solomon Islands); Online editor: Jilda Shem (Vanuatu)
  • Vol 4 No 1 April to No 2 June 1999: Editor: Salesh Kumar (Fiji); Online editor: Wilson Toa (Vanuatu)
  • Vol 3 No 4 November 1998: Editor: Mithleshni Gurdayal (Fiji); Online editor: Joseph-Michael Saimon (FSM)
  • Vol 3 No 3 September 1998: Editor: Rheetu Sabharwal (Fiji); Online editor: Joseph-Michael Saimon (FSM)
  • Vol 1 No 1 April 1996 to Vol 3 No 2 June 1998: Editor: Stanley Simpson (Fiji)

File created: 3 June 2000
Copyright © 1999-2000 Journalism USP.
University of the South Pacific
PO Box 1168
Suva, Fiji Islands

Web creator: David Robie

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