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

Hawaii Needs To ‘Double Down’ On Biosecurity, Experts Say Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2015

Hawaii Needs To ‘Double Down’ On Biosecurity, Experts Say

State lawmakers are asked to find a little more funding now to save a lot more money later in order to protect the islands' fragile ecosystems and ag lands.

E Hōʻano Hou ʻIa Ana Ka Mālama ʻAna I Ko Hawaiʻi Mau Loko Iʻa Ma O Ka ʻEnehana Hou Ronen Zilberman/Civil Beat/2019

E Hōʻano Hou ʻIa Ana Ka Mālama ʻAna I Ko Hawaiʻi Mau Loko Iʻa Ma O Ka ʻEnehana Hou

Ua puka maila ka hoʻohuli aniau me he ālaina kūikawā lā i mua o nā kiaʻi o kēia mau kumu meaʻai.
Hawaii Ag Director Plans To ‘Go Big’ If Confirmed David Croxford/Civil Beat/2023

Hawaii Ag Director Plans To ‘Go Big’ If Confirmed

The department's funding has become cause for concern after losing a special revenue stream. Lawmakers say they are listening, but they expect the next director to ask for more.
Indigenous Management Of Hawaii’s Fishponds Is Getting A High Tech Upgrade Ronen Zilberman/Civil Beat/2019

Indigenous Management Of Hawaii’s Fishponds Is Getting A High Tech Upgrade

Climate change has emerged as a modern challenge for the guardians of these traditional food sources.
Hawaii’s Farms Are Small And Hard To Sustain. Can Tax Incentives Help? Marina Riker/Civil Beat/2022

Hawaii’s Farms Are Small And Hard To Sustain. Can Tax Incentives Help?

State lawmakers are looking at new subsidies to improve food sustainability and security in the islands while continuing the momentum from last session.
US Kicks In $1M More For UXO Cleanup On Solomon Islands Nathan Eagle/Civil Beat/2022

US Kicks In $1M More For UXO Cleanup On Solomon Islands

While broadly welcoming new funding, the deaths of previous UXO contractors have left locals with concerns.
Farmers And Ranchers Buoyed By New Contingent Of Food-Focused Politicians Thomas Heaton/Civil Beat/2022

Farmers And Ranchers Buoyed By New Contingent Of Food-Focused Politicians

A cohort of farming legislators looks to bolster Hawaii's food systems and build on momentum from 2022.
‘Ticking Ecological Time Bombs’: Thousands Of Sunken Ships From WWII Are Rusting At The Bottom Of The Pacific Nathan Eagle/Civil Beat/2022

‘Ticking Ecological Time Bombs’: Thousands Of Sunken Ships From WWII Are Rusting At The Bottom Of The Pacific

Earthquakes, storm surges and other natural disasters could mean environmental catastrophe if oil and other hazardous material spill out.
Solomon Islanders Did More Than Just Save JFK During World War II Nathan Eagle/Civil Beat/2022

Solomon Islanders Did More Than Just Save JFK During World War II

The people of the South Pacific nation, the site of several battles, were integral to the Allied war effort, rescuing hundreds of servicemen behind enemy lines.