Alan Solomon Mixes The Humanitarian And Media With Waiariki

18 Sep 2014

It has taken many years and many paths, including the Air Force, fitness training, real estate and insurance, but Alan Solomon believes he has finally found his calling – the ability to tell authentic stories via the media.

The turning point was a trip to Uganda to help build a Sunday school in Kampala. Returning home Alan found his old life of “suits and selling” no longer held any attraction so spend 15 months travelling through Asia and Africa. Pondering his future once back in New Zealand, Alan had a moment of “divine intervention” when a voice asked him why he didn’t go into television. Aware that only a qualification would give him credibility, Alan jumped online and discovered he could do two two-year diplomas – bicultural journalism and multi-media journalism – at Waiariki Institute of Technology concurrently.

Going back to school was “scary” and in those first couple of weeks the then-35-year-old wondered whether he had made the right decision to give up a secure income and future to exist on a student allowance. Fortunately his mentor’s assurance that he would easily get a job proved correct and he secured part-time work at TV Rotorua, The Daily Post, Destination Rotorua Marketing and an online women’s health magazine.

Alan’s new direction proved challenging in other ways too, making him consider his Ngāi Tahu lineage.

“Here I was studying bicultural journalism yet I had never explored my family heritage; enrolling in Level 1 and 2 te reo courses at the local wānanga helped open my eyes and my heart.”

Taking advantage of everything Waiariki had to offer, including the library, café, gym and even the chance to get his car’s WOF done onsite, the top student used his experiences and life skills to benefit those around him. He participated in the international buddy programme (helping international students on campus), became a student body representative and encouraged other students.

“At my age you’re not only committed to doing well yourself, but you’re more willing to devote time to support others.”

After completing his diplomas at the end of 2012 and winning a Daily Post top student award and scholarship in the process, Alan took some time out from study before returning to the institute for the second semester of 2013 to study for a Diploma in Communications. Cross credits enabled him to complete the year-long programme in 14 weeks, and his aim now is to put the three diplomas together and use the cross credits toward a degree in either communications or media studies. At this stage he thinks it may be at The University of Waikato but is hopeful Waiariki will offer this option soon.  

Alan’s ultimate goal is to become a documentary maker bringing “unseen or uncomfortable” subjects like human trafficking, child slavery and child justice into the light. The alternate dream is to have his own travel show celebrating the people and culture of exotic, off-the-beaten-track places. In the meantime Alan is dividing his time between TV Rotorua and facilitating his One Chance Youth Project, an intensive motivational leadership course for Year 12 and 13 students, at the Rotorua Youth Centre.

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Page last updated: 02 May 2017