Lydia Despina Lewis, a Greek New Zealander has been awarded for her journalism work in the Pacific.
At the Voyager Media Awards, Lewis was the first recipient of the Le Mana Award, which recognizes outstanding achievements in journalism and storytelling, in particular, covering issues affecting Pacific communities across the Pacific Region and New Zealand.
Her work for Radio New Zealand demonstrated her dedication and commitment to shedding light on stories and issues that matter to the people of the Pacific.
The stories that were highlighted were her work covering a political crisis in Vanuatu, a family rejecting the COVID-19 vaccine put under house arrest and the community response to the internet being restored in Tonga.
Lewis is full Greek, with her maiden name being Paxie Tsouroukidis. Her father lives in Kavala Greece, while her mother lives in NZ, with heritage from Crete and Ithaki.
The tenacious Greek as she calls herself, was raised mostly by her yiayia Ersi in NZ, but also lived in Melbourne when she was 10, attending Greek school and church.
The journalist spoke to Neos Kosmos about being reporter in a place that sees very few of her kind, while also opening up about her struggles.
“It’s hard being a Greek reporter in NZ. People don’t understand my culture and assume I’m a European with a history of colonialism, but they don’t realise my family was colonised…occupied by the Ottoman Empire,” she said.
“I guess that inter-generational trauma has overflowed into my life…I care deeply about justice and the planet.
“Life had been a real battle for me to be honest. While my Dad lived in Greece hurting over why he could not be near me, my mum was battling through post-traumatic stress which meant as hard as she tried, she struggled to be what she wanted for me.
“So, for the most part I grew up with no parents constantly by my side. But I want my parents to know – I forgive you and love you for who you are – I wouldn’t change my life because all of the hard moments have led to this.
“I am a strong Greek woman, born from the dreams of my ancestors.”
Lewis was also a finalist for the Best News Journalist award at this year’s NZ Radio Awards.
Despite not taking home the award, Lewis was still very honoured to have been a finalist for one of the biggest awards in New Zealand journalism.