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

A New Chicken Farm Wants To Reduce Hawaii’s Dependence On Imported Eggs Courtesy: Hidden Villa Ranch

A New Chicken Farm Wants To Reduce Hawaii’s Dependence On Imported Eggs

The multimillion-dollar facility is entirely off the grid. But it still needs to figure out how to produce its own feed and may need GMOs to do so.

Pacific Nations Pessimistic After UN Climate Conference That Once Aroused Hope Wikimedia Commons/Dean Calma /IAEA

Pacific Nations Pessimistic After UN Climate Conference That Once Aroused Hope

The issue of reparations for Pacific nations’ losses and damages from climate change was postponed until next year.

Micronesia Debates Changing Constitution To Allow Dual Citizenship Wikimedia Commons, Thomas Heaton

Micronesia Debates Changing Constitution To Allow Dual Citizenship

The Federated States of Micronesia has voted twice to retain the prohibition against dual citizenship. Micronesians living elsewhere are hopeful the vote will go the other way.

Hawaii Leading Climate Change Action, Schatz Says Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2016

Hawaii Leading Climate Change Action, Schatz Says

Sen. Brian Schatz is now in Glasgow, Scotland for the UN climate conference and to take part in bilateral climate discussions.

Tonga Confirms First Covid Case, Prompting A Seven Day Shutdown Wikimedia Commons/David Broad

Tonga Confirms First Covid Case, Prompting A Seven Day Shutdown

The passenger had no symptoms and a ‘weak positive’ test result after arriving on a flight from New Zealand, but Tonga wasn’t taking any chances.

Seized Chinese Fishing Ship Released By French Polynesia Wikimedia Commons/NASA

Seized Chinese Fishing Ship Released By French Polynesia

Authorities in Papeete have reminded foreign fishing fleets that their waters are not “a garbage can for wrecks.”

Census: Pacific US Territory Populations Drop, Lifestyles Change Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Census: Pacific US Territory Populations Drop, Lifestyles Change

In the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and American Samoa, concerns over steady population decline have been confirmed.

Pacific Nations Cope With Increasing Climate Uncertainty Graham Crumb/ Wikimedia Commons/2015

Pacific Nations Cope With Increasing Climate Uncertainty

At the same time, money to prepare for natural disasters is getting harder to come by.

Pacific Nations Vulnerable To Warming Climate Struggle To Attend Major Conference Island Soldier

Pacific Nations Vulnerable To Warming Climate Struggle To Attend Major Conference

Hampered by pandemic travel protocols, the nations will send small delegations to the Glasgow conference. But they’re still looking for ways to exert influence.