From Waikato to Newshub — journalist Laura Tupou

05 May 2022

Reading the news and watching parliamentary television are not typical activities for a teenager but that was how University of Waikato alumna Laura Tupou liked to spend her time back in the day. Her passion for news was a great training ground for her current work as a journalist at Newshub.

University of Waikato alumna and Newshub journalist, Laura Tupou

Laura’s understanding of current events and school subjects of English and Media Studies planted the idea of being a journalist but she didn’t see a future in it. “Even though I was good at those subjects, I didn’t see journalism as a career.”

Because Laura had an aptitude for mathematics, she began a degree in engineering in another city but decided it wasn’t for her. “I thought ‘I better try something else’ and I went to the University of Waikato’s website to choose papers I liked the look of rather than deciding on a qualification. Papers in environmental and social issues looked interesting so I ended up doing a Bachelor of Social Science and majored in Environmental Planning.”

Laura has good memories of her time at Waikato and recommends current students get involved on campus and in clubs. “It’s a great skill to be a president or to start a club. I met people from other places and developed soft skills.”

After graduating, Laura worked in Poland for a year as an au pair; soon after returning to New Zealand, she worked for the University of Waikato as a student recruitment officer in Auckland. “I always loved speeches and presentations; recruitment was a great job and I enjoyed meeting students and sitting down with them.” Even though she loved the work, Laura still had journalism on her mind.

Then two motivations came along. The first was a work colleague who was studying journalism and gave her daily updates about what was happening in court. “I loved it,” she says. The second was a book, “I read a book which taught me not to muck around but to do what you love have no regrets. So, I quit my job and studied journalism.”

Now a journalist with several years under her belt, Laura still thrives on ingesting news and politics daily. She finds TV journalism collaborative and enjoys the mix of meeting people, scripting the story, getting great pictures and helping the editor put it together. “I love meeting people and telling their story correctly and it’s great because you work with a lot of people before the story goes out.”

Laura can absorb the information for a story or an interview quickly. “You get good at digging and finding the issues. If there is a large report as part of the story, there isn’t always time to prepare so you have to be quick to understand the issues.”  Laura attributes this ability to a good working base from her degree. “The papers I did in environmental studies, resource management, climate change and human geography help me; I have an idea of what those issues are about and I know what to ask.”

As well as a passion for her work, Laura has a busy home life with two young children and says women shouldn’t be afraid to take time out and come back ready to throw themselves into work. “When you have children, you are more efficient and motivated for different reasons. It is not something that will hold you back from going forward. Just keep thinking about your family and be positive.”

Her advice to budding journalists is also sound. “Don’t be afraid to do a qualification that isn’t journalism first. That’s been really beneficial for me and for my colleagues. We look at things differently.”

Laura is excited about her future in journalism. “I don’t know if the job I will do in five or 10 years exists, everything is changing so quickly about how we get our news and digest it, but I’m excited to be a part of it.”

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