Page 1

Tangata whenua

people of the land

Callum Clayton-Dixon


I met a Māori fella at the Aboriginal Embassy in Brisbane’s Musgrave Park late last year, and one of the first questions I asked him was whether he knew much about that guy on YouTube obliterating the New Zealand flag with a shotgun. The Tuhoe ‘terrorist’ Tame Iti turned out to be his grandfather. That’s the short of how I ended up staying with a family (PICTURED RIGHT) of Tuhoe ‘terrorists’ for a week during my recent Māori media tour in the land of the long white cloud. Their Wellington house was subject to the 2007 Tuhoe ‘anti-terror’ raids. After visiting two Māori radio stations in Wellington, Māori Television in Auckland and just sitting around the dinner table with my Tuhoe hosts, it became apparent to me that language was of top priority. Station Manager of Atiawa Toa FM Cory Stickle told me revitalization of the Māori language was the “primary focus” of Māori radio stations. Prior to the establishment of the first Māori station more than 25 years ago, the country’s native tongue was

I can confidently say Te Teira (left), Te Paea (centre), their son Whare (right) and Jukka the dog are far from terrorists. In fact, they were among the most caring, sharing and humble people I’ve ever met – blackfellas and the Māori have a lot in common.

“endangered”. By the 1980s, the number of fluent speakers had been reduced to around 8% of the Māori population. This figure had risen to around 25% by 2006 thanks to the emergence of kohanga reo (language nests), the birth of Māori radio, Māori

click to listen to interview with Atiawa Toa FM Station Manager Cory Stickle May 8, 2013

TV and the incorporation of Te Reo (the language) into school curriculums. Why did the NZ government start providing support for Māori broadcasting, whether it be radio or TV? This change in policy was primarily due to Māori activism during the 70s and 80s and the Waitangi Tribunal’s finding that Māori language was a taonga (treasure) protected under the Treaty. Ultimately, the NZ government was found to have an obligation to support Māori language under the Treaty, and is now funding education and broadcasting initiatives to help revitalize the Māori language. In 1988, frequencies were made available by the NZ government for a network of iwi (tribe) based radio stations. Funded by the Crown to deliver eight hours of Māori language content each day, there are now more than 20 iwi radio stations across the nation. Approximately NZ $12 million is provided by the crown for iwi radio ...


Page 2

Page 3

... per year. This funding pool facilitates a national network that links all 21 stations and a national radio news service. Listeners can also tune into programming online as a means of combatting the impacts of tribal diaspora, both within NZ and overseas.

the country they now call Australia. My final visit in Aotearoa was to Māori Television in Auckland, launched in 2004 with the primary function once again being to assist in the revival of the Māori language. Not only does Māori TV broadcast a minimum of 51% language content, but there is also a whole other channel, Te Reo (launched in 2008), dedicated to providing full immersion programming.

Mr Stickle emphasized the importance of having tribal based radio stations so that each iwi “would be able to tell their own stories in their own dialects”. FACT – all Māori tribes speak the same language, but have definitive dialects “There’s definitely nothing you could do on a national scale [in terms of Māori radio as a platform for revitalizing language],” said Mr Stickle. “It’s been tried here in New Zealand at the very beginnings of Māori radio, with just one station that was set up, and it just didn’t work. We are a people built of different tribes, and these different tribes have different words for different things, describing things differently to other tribes. It needed to shift from that national model to a more tribal, iwi based system.” There are two models for Māori radio, bilingual and full immersion. Atiawa Toa FM broadcasts bilingual content. “Presenters integrate words and full sentences in Te Reo Māori,” said Mr Stickle. “We have language programs, short segments that might only be 20 seconds long, teaching words

click to listen to interview with Te Upoko o Te Ika Program Director Erena Hemmingsen and providing examples of how to use those words in sentences.” Mr Stickle believes this kind of approach helps to “normalize” Māori words and phrases into everyday language whilst “making our Māori people proud to speak their language”. Atiawa Toa FM’s business plan “places Māori language and culture as the priority communication method for delivering the service”. Inner-city Wellington is home to Te Upoko o Te Ika, New Zealand’s original Māori radio station, having celebrated its 25th birthday last year. This is a full immersion station with a target audience of fluent and semi-fluent speakers. The station’s Program Director Erena

Hemmingsen highlighted the need for issues affecting Māori to be told “through Māori eyes”. “Over the years we have faced so much racism in the media,” said Ms Hemmingsen. For a long time, mainstream NZ journalists (Dominion Post, New Zealand Herald etc.) reporting on Māori affairs were not Māori. Ms Hemingsen believes this prevented journalists from being able to “look through Māori eyes at particular issues”. “It’s about being able to tell your stories from your point of view and being able to look at whatever issues are going on at the time through Māori eyes, because no matter what happens in this country, it impacts on us as Māori.” Ms Hemmingsen has worked in the field of Māori journalism since the 80s, having interviewed a plethora of prominent people during her career – NZ Prime Ministers, the former head of the Nation of Islam and even a member of the Ku Klux Klan. She also had dealings with Radio Redfern during its early days.

click to listen to interview with NZ Film Archivist Te Iwarangi Makere May 8, 2013

I also had the pleasure of visiting the New Zealand Film Archive in Wellington and talking to Te Iwarangi Makere, Digital Transfer Operator working with the taonga Māori collections (audio visual material etc). Ms Makere believes restoring archival material, transferring it onto modern...


The documentary I watched at the NZ Film Archive about the 1977 Bastion Point Point Māori land rights protests was very Reminiscent of the struggle for self-determination here in Australia; 1982 Commonwealth Games protests, 2012 Musgrave Park police invasion...

...mediums and making it available to talking about their traditions, their the public is playing an important role in genealogy, the way they grew up, very personal things. A pakeha (non-Māori) the process of cultural revitalization. person would never understand that. To Some of this content includes scenes them, it’s just an elder speaking. The of Māori life during the 1900s, the first barrier is the language, they don’t earliest footage of traditional Māori speak Māori, they’re not Māori, they life. According to Ms Makere, such don’t understand the culture and why it’s material is helping to “connect the dots” significant. It’s just a tape to them, it’s for a lot of Māori, especially those who just a film.” weren’t raised with their culture – those FACT – ‘pakeha‘ is NOT a who had “just become another body in derogatory term for non-Māori a cramped city”. Whilst at the NZ Film Archives I “It’s helping whanau (families), got to view a documentary about the hapu (sub-tribes) and iwi to see how 1977 Bastion Point Māori land rights their ancestors lived, how their elders protests. Talk of “stolen land” and lived, the traditions that they upheld, the images of mass police evictions revealed ceremonies that they did. It’s a window to me how similar the struggles for selfinto their world, our past. We can see determination have been in Aotearoa and how they used to dye the flax, how they used to weave and carve, and the different dialects they used. I’m humbled every day to work with all this taonga.”

Similar to the approach taken by the Australian media, New Zealand’s major TV channels and publications often sensationalize stories concerning Māori affairs, honing in on the violence, alcohol, scaremongering about ‘radicals’ and Tuhoe ‘terrorists’. This is all at the expense of addressing the core social, political, economic and environmental issues, making independent indigenous media an absolute necessity. Māori TV’s premiere current affairs show is Native Affairs. General Manager of the station’s news and current affairs department Julian Wilcox says broadcasting this kind of content assists in “telling stories from a Māori perspective”. “Our focus is on the revitalization of Māori language, but Māori Television and in particular our news and current affairs programmes also play an important role in providing a Māori voice,” said Mr Wilcox. PART TWO of this feature story will appear on on May 15, looking at the Treaty, Māori sovereignty and politics!

Ms Makere said the core ethos for Māori employees at the NZ Film Archive is that they are “only guardians of the taonga that is deposited”. “We want to reconnect whanau, hapu and iwi with their taonga, because it is a way of revitalizing our culture, our language, our traditions, everything about our identity as Maori people.” She also stressed the need for Māori to be the ones managing Māori archival material. “The elders being interviewed were May 8, 2013

Māori TV’s premiere current affairs show is Native Affairs. General Manager of the station’s news and current Affairs department Julian Wilcox says broadcasting this kind of content assists in “telling stories from a Māori perspective”.


Tangata Whenua PART 1  

After visiting two Māori radio stations in Wellington, Māori Television in Auckland and just sitting around the dinner table with my Tuhoe h...

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you