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

How Much Should Hawaii Discount Electric Rates For High-Tech Farmers? Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2022

How Much Should Hawaii Discount Electric Rates For High-Tech Farmers?

A 2019 law aspired to help farmers grow large amounts of food indoors or in greenhouses by providing savings on electricity. But critics say the current proposal falls short.

Ige Intends To Veto Healthy Soils Program. Advocates Say That’s Misguided Ku‘u Kauanoe/Civil Beat/2022

Ige Intends To Veto Healthy Soils Program. Advocates Say That’s Misguided

Gov. David Ige wants to nix the program because there is a soil survey in the works. But supporters say it’s like comparing apples and oranges.

Farmers Want Action From Hawaii Governor Candidates, Not Lip Service Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2022

Farmers Want Action From Hawaii Governor Candidates, Not Lip Service

Farmers and ranchers feel investing in agriculture has become more of a buzzword than an actual concern for the executive branch.

Molokai Homesteader Will Lead Maui’s New Agriculture Department Facebook/County of Maui/2022

Molokai Homesteader Will Lead Maui’s New Agriculture Department

Maui’s DOA director designee Rogerene “Kali” Arce brings more than 30 years of experience to the role.

Long-Awaited Maui Ag Department Set To Be Finally Up And Running This Week Hawaii Farm Bureau

Long-Awaited Maui Ag Department Set To Be Finally Up And Running This Week

Early ideas of extra regulation caused consternation among farmers and ranchers on Maui.

Involving Farmers Is The Key To Innovation And Better Ag Ku‘u Kauanoe/Civil Beat/2022

Involving Farmers Is The Key To Innovation And Better Ag

Agricultural technologists descended upon Hilo to discuss innovation, as well as the many hurdles Hawaii faces as it tries to increase food production.

Hawaii’s Crumbling Water Systems May Finally Be Getting Some Badly Needed Repair Money Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2016

Hawaii’s Crumbling Water Systems May Finally Be Getting Some Badly Needed Repair Money

But the Legislature has once again only approved a fraction of what the Department of Agriculture requested.

UH Dean of Agriculture And Human Resources Retires UH

UH Dean of Agriculture And Human Resources Retires

Dean Nicholas Comerford’s career in agriculture has spanned more than 40 years, with almost five at University of Hawaii Manoa.

Hawaii’s Extreme Drought Is Forcing Ranchers And Farmers To Get Creative Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2022

Hawaii’s Extreme Drought Is Forcing Ranchers And Farmers To Get Creative

Planting crops that adapt, cutting back on workers, even harvesting fog are ideas being put into action on Maui and Molokai.