Newshub journalist Michael Morrah has acknowledged the people of Samoa and aid workers from organisations like the Pasifika Medical Association (PMA) for his award as Reporter of the Year, for his coverage of the Samoan measles epidemic at the recent New Zealand Television Awards.
In 2019, a state of emergency was declared in Samoa due to a measles outbreak which saw 5,700 cases and 83 deaths, the majority being babies and children.
Morrah was sent to the small Pacific nation for two weeks to cover the devastation for TV Three’s Newshub. He says it was the most impactful moment in his 15 years as a television journalist covering the Pacific.
“It was a heartbreaking experience. The most difficult thing was speaking to young mothers and fathers, some with whom were faced with the unthinkable prospect of burying their children. Sometimes it was their only child. It really was a crisis that many will never forget in Samoa’s history.”
He says that Samoa would not have survived the tragedy without the help from organisations like the PMA, which sent a team of Pacific doctors, nurses and aid workers to help with those needing urgent medical care and vaccinations.
Morrah describes how hundreds of families were in desperate need of medical attention and make shift tents were set up at the hospital in Apia to handle the demand.
“I was incredibly moved by the overseas response while we were on the ground. This crisis was answered by international medical teams from across the world, which included doctors, nurses and mental health specialists from the Pasifika Medical Association.
Samoa was underprepared for a crisis like this and its prayers were answered by this amazing international response.
I was amazed at the resilience of the Samoan people and their focus on protecting their whānau and trying to move forward.”
Morrah says that he is humbled to be acknowledged for his coverage at the recent New Zealand Television Awards by being named Reporter of the Year. His team at Newshub also won the award for best news coverage.
He dedicates his award to the people of Samoa and to the many workers who helped the nation and its people through its most vulnerable time.
“This award and acknowledgement are about the people of Samoa, who in their time of great upheaval and grief, allowed us into their homes to report on the facts and to the aid workers who volunteered their time on the ground.”
Date: Thursday 03 December 2020