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

Hemp Farmers Are Fed Up With Government Regulations Hampering The Industry’s Potential Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2022

Hemp Farmers Are Fed Up With Government Regulations Hampering The Industry’s Potential

After exhausting their savings and losing hope for more meaningful legislative relief, some hemp producers in Hawaii may ditch the crop altogether.

Pacific Island Nations Want More Renewable Power. Climate Financing May Help Nathan Eagle/Civil Beat/2022

Pacific Island Nations Want More Renewable Power. Climate Financing May Help

Maui-based Mana Pacific is helping to give Pacific nations greater access to renewable energy infrastructure through collective buying power and resource sharing.

What Will The New Minimum Wage Mean For Hawaii’s Farmers? Ku‘u Kauanoe/Civil Beat/2022

What Will The New Minimum Wage Mean For Hawaii’s Farmers?

Finding workers is hard in Hawaii, so many farms pay extra, but lifting the benchmark to $18 could present a new set of problems for farmers.

This Mental Health Team Hopes To Help Hawaii’s Farmers Help Themselves Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2019

This Mental Health Team Hopes To Help Hawaii’s Farmers Help Themselves

Professor Thao Le discusses the experiences of researchers at the University of Hawaii who have been canvassing the ranching and farming community to find the state of its mental health.

Ban On Longliners Using Wire Leaders Takes Effect Next Month To Protect Sharks Wikimedia Commons

Ban On Longliners Using Wire Leaders Takes Effect Next Month To Protect Sharks

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will officially implement its prohibition on the use of wire leaders at the ends of fishing lines starting May 31.

Scientists: Japan’s Plan To Dump Nuclear Waste Into The Pacific Ocean May Not Be Safe Courtesy: Greg Webb/IAEA/2011

Scientists: Japan’s Plan To Dump Nuclear Waste Into The Pacific Ocean May Not Be Safe

A panel of scientists has identified critical gaps in the data supporting the safe discharge of wastewater into the Pacific.

Palauans Are Protesting A Plan To Roll Back Their National Marine Sanctuary Flickr: LuxTonnerre

Palauans Are Protesting A Plan To Roll Back Their National Marine Sanctuary

Community members are concerned about the lack of consultation, the focus on money and the surprising support of a major environmental nonprofit.

Is Fencing The Future Of Hawaii’s Native Ecosystems? Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2022

Is Fencing The Future Of Hawaii’s Native Ecosystems?

Great stock has been put into fencing off native ecosystems, namely watersheds, to ensure that the state’s terrestrial and marine resources are protected for the future.

Quarantine Ordered After Bovine Tuberculosis Detected on Molokai Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2022

Quarantine Ordered After Bovine Tuberculosis Detected on Molokai

The island has a storied history of bovine tuberculosis, including a complete eradication of cattle from the island in 1985.