Kia ora koutou

Welcome to the landing page for


This site is a project space edited and administered by yours truly, Stephen Olsen as a staging platform and work-in-progress venue for a variety of voluntary and commissioned freelance projects across the spectrum of journalism, communications and research.

The added intention is to feature pointers to specific ‘passion projects’ I am engaged in, and to contain and file details of the intertwined interests that run alongside my concurrent working life, including current part-time study towards a Postgraduate Certificate in Design Innovation.

If there’s anything here that you’d like to talk to me about, please drop me a line any time to

Recent projects/ employment – 2014 to 2018

Newsroom Ltd: In 2014-2015 I was General Manager of Newsroom Ltd where as part of efforts to diversify its business model I developed a public-facing ‘news curation’ site at I aligned this to the core paywalled subscription site of that was originally founded in 1997 as a clearinghouse for and repository of media releases, and that had for most of its life also had a journalist/s in the Parliamentary Press Gallery. This business changed hands for the third time in 2016/ 2017 and has since undergone a complete professional transformation by a group of leading NZ journalists into an award-winning news site.

AAP Medianet service: Directly off the back of my work at Newsroom Ltd I was recruited to activate an editorial sub-editing service for the media release business unit of Australian Associated Press and relocated from Wellington, NZ, to Sydney, Australia to complete that project from January 2016 to February 2017.

Other projects: In the remainder of 2017 I returned to New Zealand and took up two consecutive short-term assignments:

  • four months on a strategic planning team at a government agency called Regenerate Christchurch – providing input alongside urban design and planning team members towards steps to revive the stagnant post-earthquake Christchurch city centre and Cathedral Square
  • four months on the communications team at the Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand for the duration of the 2017 General Election campaign

‘Passion projects’ in 2018

  • Urbanism New Zealand conference
    On Monday/Tuesday 14-15 May I supported the Urbanism New Zealand conference in Wellington through attending both days and acting as a freelance media presence, publicist on social media and photographer. My involvement was self-initiated and reflects a longstanding special interest in urban design and urbanism, and relates closely to my membership of the Urban Design Forum. I will be adding links to articles I generate from this event in the Urbanism|design interests section of this site.
  • Talk Wellington
    Since the Urbanism New Zealand conference, I spent some time alongside dynamo Isabella Cawthorn figuring ways to chip into the emerging online presence that is the Talk Wellington site that Isabella founded. The crew at Talk Wellington has been running since mid-way through 2017 and in 2018 has been focusing on “how transport is influencing people’s quality of life – from our streets, neighbourhoods, suburbs, to our towns and region”

The background to Palaver Media: 2007 to 2013

The back story to dates back to 2007 when I joined with a small group of independent writers and researchers based out of Wellington to contribute freelance services to projects under the general branding of Palaver Media/Palaver PR with a primary focus on working with non-government and charitable sector organisations.

For the period 2007-2013 those services ranged across:

  • campaign management and communications
  • input to strategic planning and concept development
  • media relations/ government relations/ stakeholder relations
  • media release writing and distribution
  • wrap-around editorial support – writing, editing and research
  • extensive event publicity work
  • training and staff guidance
  • contributions to design work and photography

A sample selection of projects I took a lead on over that time, in my own right (with case studies being prepared for this site), have included:

  • communications management for the Aroha tetahi ki tetahi / Let Us Look After Each Other social justice campaign for NZCCSS (2008)
  • client publicity and writing for the 2nd International Urban Design Conference (Australia, 2009)
  • the Doorways to Community Housing campaign for Community Housing Aotearoa (2010-2012), including co-production of video clips with Waitakere Housing Call to Action
  • guest editing two editions of the Australasian Housing Institute’s flagship magazine HousingWorks (2011-2012), including a special edition for the 2012 World Indigenous Housing Conference
  • media support for a WW1 commemoration project (2011) and an allied voluntary project for (2013)
  • managing a national ‘Big Questions’ roadshow for the NZ Union of Students’ Associations in partnership with the Constitutional Advisory Panel and Commission for Financial Literary (2013)
  • advising on new initiatives for Scoop Media such as Community Scoop, InfoPages and Scoop Amplifier (2013)
  • event reportage for Semi-Permanent events held in Wellington (2013 / 2014)
  • pursuing media opportunities and providing advisory services for small businesses, startup companies and social enterprises


Screen Shot 2015-08-29 at 11.11.04 am

The Palaver logo was designed in 2008 by good friend James Whale, a former associate at the business strategy and communications firm Sweeney Vesty where we worked together on a team servicing the worldwide ‘Lovemarks – future beyond brands’ project for Sweeney Vesty client Saatchi & Saatchi. James is now based in Long Beach, California, and is the co-founder and creative director of Commune Communication.