Civil Beat Staff

Thomas Heaton

Thomas is a reporter for Civil Beat. He joined the news outlet in 2021 as a Li Center for Global Journalism Fellow at Honolulu Civil Beat, position supported by the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and the Institute for Nonprofit News. The Li Center was established to prepare journalists to work, think and report globally.

At Civil Beat, Thomas focuses on issues in and around the Pacific.

Having recently completed a Master of Arts at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, Thomas has previously worked in regional and national news organizations in New Zealand and Nepal. 

A Kiwi by birth, Thomas made his start with a regional daily newspaper in New Zealand, where he covered social issues, health, local politics and general news. He was a finalist for Regional Reporter of the Year at the national media awards for his coverage of regional flooding, and regional health care issues, in his first year of reporting.

Later working for Cuisine magazine and Stuff.co.nz as a food reporter, Thomas wrote about everything from fisheries and agriculture to Filipino pinoy and the country’s national pie awards. 

He eventually followed his stomach to the base of the Himalayas, where he worked for The Nepali Times and The Kathmandu Post. At the Post he was deputy culture and arts editor, and wrote long-form pieces about the food industry, culture, tourism, travel, and restaurant reviews. He spent a few weeks trekking too.

Thomas has a propensity for slow travel and secondary fun, and he is always planning the next meal. Despite his army brat upbringing and nomadic life, the Pacific has always been home. He is glad to be back.

Feel free to contact him with tips and ideas at theaton@civilbeat.com, or find him on Twitter and Instagram

Tonga Confirms 3 Dead After Eruption New Zealand Defence Force/2022

Tonga Confirms 3 Dead After Eruption

The government of Tonga has released its first statement since the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcanic eruption cut it off from the outside world.

Here’s How These Ka‘u Kids Are Learning Outside Of The Classroom Thomas Heaton/Civil Beat/2022

Here’s How These Ka‘u Kids Are Learning Outside Of The Classroom

When things were not looking great for students at Ka‘u High & Pahala Elementary School, the teachers took their lessons to the region’s roots — agriculture.

‘We Just Want To Hear If They Are OK Or Not’: Oahu’s Tongans Rallying As They Await Word New Zealand Defence Force/2022

‘We Just Want To Hear If They Are OK Or Not’: Oahu’s Tongans Rallying As They Await Word

The local Tongan community is preparing crates to send to their extended families, full of the essentials like clothing and kitchenware.

Tonga Is Still Cut Off Following Massive Eruption Tonga Geological Services/2022

Tonga Is Still Cut Off Following Massive Eruption

The Hunga Tonga volcano spewed ash and rock, setting off tsunamis across the Pacific and cutting off the Pacific nation’s key communication lines with the rest of the world.

Will This Bureaucratic Tug Of War Over Hawaii’s Ag Lands Finally End? Thomas Heaton/Civil Beat/2022

Will This Bureaucratic Tug Of War Over Hawaii’s Ag Lands Finally End?

Ranchers are fed up with waiting two decades for the departments of Agriculture and Land and Natural Resources to sort out legally mandated land transfers.

CNMI House Votes To Impeach Governor Torres Courtesy: CNMI Office of Governor

CNMI House Votes To Impeach Governor Torres

The House voted in favor of six articles of impeachment relating to fraud, theft, neglect of duty, corruption and unlawful travel.

Hawaii AG Supports More Diverse Slaughterhouse Industry Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Hawaii AG Supports More Diverse Slaughterhouse Industry

Attorney General Holly Shikada has joined a bipartisan coalition of 16 attorneys in supporting greater diversity in the livestock harvesting and processing industry.

Hawaii Is Beefing Up Its Potential To Produce More Meat Locally Ku'u Kauanoe/Civil Beat/2021

Hawaii Is Beefing Up Its Potential To Produce More Meat Locally

A billionaire’s investment in the state’s biggest slaughterhouses and a shift to more grass-fed operations could help ranchers keep their cattle in the islands after years of sending them to the mainland.

One Way To Counter The Ill Effects Of Hawaii’s Invasive Species: Eat Them Thomas Heaton/Civil Beat/2021

One Way To Counter The Ill Effects Of Hawaii’s Invasive Species: Eat Them

As Hawaii strives for a more self-sufficient food system, a large cache of protein in the form of feral pigs, axis deer and other invasives could help.