Te Whakaruruhau o Ngā Reo Irirangi Māori (National Māori Radio Network) is a
New Zealandradio network consisting of
radio stations that serve the country's indigenous
Māori population. Most stations receive contestable government funding from
Te Māngai Pāho, the Māori Broadcast Funding Agency, to operate on behalf of affiliated
iwi (tribes) or
hapū (sub-tribes). Under their funding agreement, the stations must produce programmes in the
Māori language, and must actively promote
Most stations combine an English-language
urban contemporary playlist during "
drive-time shows with
full-service broadcasting and Māori-language programmes at other times of the day. They have their own local shows, personalities and breakfast programmes, and broadcast through both terrestrial frequencies and online streams. There are regular segments updating people about local events, and teaching people the Māori language and
tikanga (customs). The stations also produce local news shows, Māori music, educational programmes, comedies and dramas.
The network oversees the sharing of news bulletins, the pooling of resources and the production of network programmes.
Radio Waatea in
Manukau operates the network news service and produces network programmes. Its chief executive,
Willie Jackson, also serves as association chairman. Programmes are shared and simulcast on a high-speed
wide area network. Almost every Māori person in New Zealand lives within the range of an iwi radio frequency, but transmission issues have been reported in remote areas.
Early Māori broadcasting (1928–1978)
The first Māori language to be broadcast on the radio were songs. A programme of Māori history, stories and songs were broadcast around the country on
Waitangi Day 1928, and a regular programme featuring correct pronunciation of Māori began the same year. Māori broadcasters were appointed: Lou Paul of
Ngāti Whātua in Auckland, Kīngi Tāhiwi of
Ngāti Raukawa in Wellington, Te Ari Pītama of
Ngāi Tahu in Christchurch, and broadcasting pioneer Airini Grenell of
Ngāi Tahu in Dunedin. The first programme entirely in the Māori language was a news bulletin about
World War II and local Māori issues, presented by Wiremu Bill Parker in 1940. Other shows followed, including Nga pao me nga pakiwaitara a te Maori: song and story of the Maori, based in Wellington, and Te reo o te Māori, broadcast from Napier.
Leo Fowler set up a Māori Programmes Section of the
New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation (NZBC) in 1964, and, alongside Bill Kerekere took a mobile broadcasting studio to important Māori events. The department produced the English language Māori affairs programme Te puna wai kōrero and helped increase airtime for Māori music and show bands, including the Patea Māori Club hit
Poi E. Te Reo o Aotearoa, a Māori and Pacific unit of the NZBC's successor
Radio New Zealand, was set up in 1978 to produce Māori and Pacific programmes.
Campaign for iwi stations (1978–1990)
By the 1970s state broadcasters broadcast less than 90 minutes of Māori language and Māori interest programming a week, and there were growing concerns about the decline in fluent Māori speakers.
Victoria University of Wellington's Te Reo Māori Society campaigned for Māori radio, helping to set up Te Reo o Poneke, the first Māori-owned radio operation, using airtime on Wellington student radio station
Radio Active in 1983. Other part-time Māori radio stations were also set up by young volunteers:
Ōtaki's Te Reo o Raukawa in 1985, and
Mangamuka's Tautoko Radio and
Ruatōria's Radio Ngāti Porou in 1987. The establishment of a Māori Radio Network was also discussed at a hui or gathering at
Takapuwahia Marae in
Porirua. Te Reo o Poneke gained a full-time license in 1987, becoming the pan-tribal Wellington radio station Te Upoko O Te Ika. The first bilingual school opened at
Urewera in 1978, and the
Māori Language Commission was formed when Māori language became an official language in 1987. However, Māori culture continued to be underrepresented on
New Zealand radio.
Tairawhiti Polytechnic head of Māori studies Joe Te Rito operated a part-time station, Te Toa Takitini, on the polytechnic's
Gisborne campus in 1988 and 1989, in an effort to broadcast
Rongomaiwahine-Ngāti Kahungunu's local elders and native speakers. A year later he relaunched it as full-time station Radio Kahungunu in
Hastings, to increase grammatical and spoken Māori language fluency, and expose the language to homes where no one spoke it. Te Rito archived more than 2000 programme recordings, which he used to study and translate the tribe's distinctive
dialect, teach courses on the local spoken and written language, and provide an international model for preserving dialects in other communities in
Waitangi Tribunal challenges (1990–1994)
Fourth Labour Government deregulated the radio industry during the 1980s, selling the rights to use radio frequencies to private companies. The Wellington Māori Language Board, Nga Kaiwhakapumau i te Reo, was supporting the self-funded Te Upoko O Te Ika, and claimed the Government's sell off of broadcasting spectrum amounted to theft. Alongside the New Zealand Māori Council jointly, it challenged the spectrum sell off and the lack of support for Māori broadcasting. In one case brought through the
Waitangi Tribunal, a permanent commission set up to investigate breaches of the
Treaty of Waitangi, they argued the treaty gave them sovereignty over the airwaves and broadcast spectrum. They sought a share of the proceeds from the sale of rights to spectrum frequencies, and frequencies for their own use. Other cases followed through the
High Court and
Court of Appeal, with one case reaching the
Privy Council in London.
The Government addressed the claim by instructing
Radio New Zealand and
Television New Zealand to broadcast more Māori programmes, and funding the establishment of Māori-owned and Māori-controlled radio stations. Twenty one iwi radio stations were started between 1989 and 1994. These were initially funded by
NZ On Air from 1990, with six percent of broadcasting fees allocated to Māori broadcasting. A call for Māori to have greater control of funding led to the establishment of a separate
Te Mangai Paho funding agency in 1995, and this agency became funded through taxation. The establishment of these stations allowed the Government to justify the sale of
Radio New Zealand's commercial
Newstalk ZB and
ZM stations to the privately owned
Australian Radio Network partnership in 1996, after the sale was challenged in the High Court and Court of Appeal.
Aotearoa Radio era (1994–1997)
Several iwi applied for Government funding to establish radio stations in areas with significant Māori populations, developing an iwi-based radio network. However, the new stations struggled to survive as budgets did not cover the costs, volunteer staff lost enthusiasm, staff training was inadequate, and funding was insufficient to create professional career paths for Māori radio announcers and managers. Three stations broadcast on AM frequencies, costing an extra $100,000 a year than FM frequencies, but received the same flat rate of funding.
Radio Ngāti Porou station manager Ngahiwi Apanui set up a joint venture between iwi stations, the national advertising agency Māori Media Network, in 1994 to increase each station's sources of revenue. The Māori Communication Network was set up in 1997.
Meanwhile, the first Māori language radio network, Aotearoa Radio or Irirrangi Radio, began in Auckland on 18 July 1988 on a short-term warrant, broadcasting on 1XO 603 AM. It gained a full-time warrant in 1989, extending to Tauranga on 1XV 603 AM, Wellington on 2XO 1323 AM and Christchurch on 3XQ 1323 AM. Radio and television producer
Ray Waru was the chief executive. Teacher, lecturer and consultant
Haare Williams served as the general manager. Aotearoa Radio operated alongside the iwi radio stations, and broadcast a range of programmes on Māori issues, and gave airtime to Māori women at a time when women and Māori were both underrepresented in radio.Tipene O'Regan, Beverly Adlam, Pauline Butt,
Toby Curtis, Wiremu Ohia,
Neil Gudsell, James Waerea,
Libby Hakaraia, Trada Chadwick and
Koro Wētere were involved in the Māori Radio Board during this period. The network closed in 1997.
Mai Media era (1997–2004)
In June 1998, the first Māori language radio serial began airing on iwi radio, and in July 1997
NZ On Air began distributing Māori music compilation CDs to English language radio stations to promote greater air time for Māori performers and Māori language music. Te Māngai Pāho also kept records of the percentage of Māori language in the programming of each iwi station, and talked with stations about increasing the use of Māori language.
Ngāti Whātua took a leading role in iwi radio during the 1990s and early 2000s through its subsidiary Mai Media. The iwi started
urban contemporary station,
Mai FM, in Auckland in July 1992, and New Zealand's first Māori language network, Ruia Mai Te Ratonga Irirangi o te Motu 1179AM, in April 1996. Through Ruia Mai it secured a contract with Te Māngai Pāho to provide Māori language news bulletins, which broadcast on 26 iwi radio stations. It also produced a range of current affairs, documentary and children's programmes. Some of these programmes were recognised in the
New Zealand Radio Awards.
Mai FM was commercially successful and was expanded to other regions. It formed a broadcasting partnership with Ngāi Tahu's Tahu FM in Christchurch between 1996 and 2001, then tendered for a frequncey in Rotorua creating Mai FM 96.7 after losing that frequncey took over one of the frequencies of Te Arawa FM, 99.1FM in 1998, Also had a frequncey set up in Whangārei Mai FM 97.8 Ruia Mai, by contrast, reached a smaller audience of fluent Māori language speakers, and focused on programmes reflecting Ngāti Whatua and Māori culture. It was reliant on its news and current affairs contract with Te Māngai Pāho, and closed in 2004 when it lost the contract to bilingual radio station Radio Waatea. Ngāti Whatua retained the frequency, initially leasing it out to The Voice of Samoa before using it for AKE 1179AM.
Radio Waatea era (2004–present)
In 2006, Te Māngai Pāho spent $2 million upgrading studios, equipment and technical capacity for each Iwi Radio Network station. Emare Rose Nikora, a leader of the
Māori language revival movement, received a Queen's Service Medal for services to Māori for her role in setting up
Tokoroa's Te Reo Irirangi o Ngati Raukawa Trust and Ruakawa FM. She was the station's co-founder, first
Māori language newsreader, manager and board member.
Whanganui's Awa FM relocated in 2012 and went through major restructuring in 2014, leaving it with just three staff members. Gisborne's Radio Ngāti Porou was investigated by Te Māngai Pāho in 2014, and in August its financial adviser resigned. In the Far North, the Tautoko FM building to the ground on 18 May 2015, cutting power to the small community of Mangamuka.
Iwi radio stations receive a share $11.7 million in Government funding each year, and can each be eligible for an annual Government grant of $350,000. They also source funding from sponsorship, advertising and leasing of studio space. Government-funded stations must broadcast at least eight hours of Māori language content between 6am and 12pm each day of the week. Station managers are also usually required to be proficient in the Māori language. Between 0.9% and 1.2% of each station's annual revenue is returned to the music industry through
Recorded Music NZ, with each station treated differently for licensing purposes.
Between 2014 and 2018, the Iwi Radio Network received an extra $12 million to cover new operating costs and to assess the feasibility of expanding the network with new iwi stations, and $1.5 million towards archiving historic Māori language programmes. Māori Affairs Minister
Pita Sharples said the extra funding would increase Māori language content and programme quality, and would ensure interviews with dead elders would be not be lost. The funding was specifically allocated to increasing community engagement with iwi stations, increasing Māori language hours and expanding the number of people the network reached. Network chairman Willie Jackson said many iwi stations were struggling, and welcomed and desperately needed the extra funding.
Role and effectiveness
Massey University survey of 30,000 people, published in 2003, indicated 50 percent of Māori in Iwi Radio Network broadcast areas listened to an iwi station. The results were consistent with those of similar surveys by individual stations, and countered the misconception that iwi stations reached small and specific audiences. According to the research, iwi stations were often associated with old music and interviews with elders, but many Māori listeners used it to stay in touch with their culture, family history, spirituality and community, and maintain their language skills. Further
Auckland University of Technology research in 2009 suggested the potential audience of iwi radio stations would increase due to the growth of New Zealand's Māori and Pacific population.
Māori language advocates have recognised radio broadcasting as having a small but significant role in bringing Māori language to New Zealand audiences for more than half a century, particularly since the establishment of radio stations under iwi control.
Postcolonialists have also suggested the Iwi Radio Network is a form of decolonisation, a means of achieving decolonisation, and a way to assert cultural identity and challenge
Pākeha cultural dominance. Massey University research in 2006 assessed five year qualitative and quantitative research, literature on the long term history of the Māori language, comparative studies between Māori and Irish radio, and
Tūhoe's experiences setting up a radio station, and found the Iwi Radio Network had a positive impact on Māori language revitalisation. The stations have failed to counter a decline in the number of fluent Māori speakers in the 2010s, but continue to be part of the strategy to promote it.
Awards and recognition
The National Māori Radio Network has held its own annual awards since 2012. Te Upoko o te Ika was the inaugural winner of Station of the Year, Willie Jackson calling it a tribute to their work towards promoting the Māori language. Taranaki's Korimako FM won Station of the Year in 2013. Maniapoto FM in Te Kuiti, Moana Radio in Tauranga, Radio Ngāti Porou in Ruatoria, Te Korimako in New Plymouth and Te Hiku o te Ika in Kaitaia were finalists for Station for the Year in 2014.
The stations are also eligible for awards at the
New Zealand Radio Awards. One award, for Iwi Station of the Year, recognises radio networks or individual stations which have performed outstandingly as a champion of Māori language and culture. The station is judged on the quality and effectiveness of its Māori language use, and its programmes, client relations, community involvements, news and current affairs, personality strength, promotions and marketing campaigns. Tumeke FM won Iwi Station of the Year in 2014.Ngāti Porou won the award in 2013, but faced criticism about its management and financial oversight a few months later.
Days and nights
The iwi stations broadcast a range of programmes during the day, combining the use of conversational Māori with commercially viable English language programmes. Many weekend programmes cover special interests, use local Māori language dialects, or cater to local
Pacific Island communities. For example, Tokoroa's Ruakawa FM follows a conventional radio schedule, with programmes like Daybreak with Roger Mahu, Rangatahi Days with Ngaitarangi Toma, and night show Rangatahi Vibes geared to younger audiences. The weekend line-up includes the Hakinakina Hard Saturday sports morning show with Josiah Teokotai, and Sunday night Te Taura Vaanaga show for the local Cook Island community.
Manawatu's Kia Ora FM broadcasts a specialist weekly science programme showcasing the research of
Massey University researchers and postgraduate students. Musician, actor and commentator Moana Maniapoto has hosted several iwi radio programmes since 1990, including an evening programme on Radio Waatea. The Whanau Show music programme on Wellington's Te Upoko o te Ika on 6 June 1995, began touring the country in 1997, has been broadcast on nine iwi stations and is currently based at Gisborne's Turanga FM.
Moana Radio's Tai Pari Tai Timu programme is simulcast across most of the Iwi Radio Network from midnight to 6.00am every day. The show's rotating hosts discuss news, views, issues and events from the Māori world in a
free format. Retro phone requests are received after 4.00am.
Some stations have their own overnight shows. For example, Cilla Gardiner's Country Music Show airs some nights on Tokoroa's Raukawa FM.
News and information
Radio Waatea produces hourly bulletins for the Iwi Radio Network under a contract with Te Māngai Pāho. Its Waatea News website publishes national news articles and interviews, and bulletins for Te Hiku o Te Ika (Auckland and Northland), Tainui (Waikato), Te Korimako (Taranaki and Wanganui), Te Manuka Tutahi (Bay of Plenty), Turanganui A Kiwa (Gisborne and Hawke's Bay), and Te Upoko o Te Ika (Wellington and the South Island). A 2013
Queensland University of Technology cited the service as an example of journalistic practices being shaped by traditional indigenous values .Whitireia New Zealand runs a course preparing people to become Iwi Radio Network journalists.
Iwi stations broadcast live coverage of sports games,
kapa haka competitions and other news events. Many
Waitangi Tribunal hearings have been broadcast live on iwi radio stations, from the inquiry into the claims of Whanganui tribes in 2007 and 2008 to the inquiry into
Ngā Puhi claims in 2015. During the
2011 Rugby World Cup the stations gained rights to simulcast live Māori language commentaries from the TV channel
Te Reo. Turanga FM broadcasts live commentaries of
Poverty Bay Rugby Football Union games on some weekend afternoons. The Māori Sports Awards are also broadcast live across the network each November.
Most iwi stations are involved in locals events, news media and other iwi or pan-tribal activities. Tokoroa's Raukawa FM, for example, has been holding concerts since December 1990, sponsored the Tainui Games in
Kawhia in January 1992, supported the Raukawa Education and Training Establishment in June 1992, and helped set up the first Raukawa newspaper, Te Paki o Raukawa Kia Ora News, in August 1992. Radio Kahungunu set a special broadcast during the 2008 Takitimu Festival, broadcasting a live simulcast of its station on 105.5 FM from the nearby Hawke's Bay Showgrounds. Many stations are service contractors and offer their studios for hire. Rotorua's Te Arawa FM, for example, operates as Te Arawa Communications and provides marketing, film and audio engineering services, and has recently started a very successful commercial station The Heat 991FM
Each station has its own website, and most stations stream online. Many of the websites were designed by Māori web developers. For example, the websites of Radio Kahungunu, Tekorimako 94.5FM and Turanga FM were the work of
Ngāti Porou designer Alex Walker.
Radio Waatea is the pan-tribal station of the Manukau Urban Māori Authority. Willie Jackson, chairman of the National Māori Radio Network and the National Urban Māori Authority, is the station's chief executive, morning talkback host and political commentator. Waatea broadcasts on 603AM in
Manukau and across the
Raukawa FM is the official station of
Ngāti Raukawa. It was set up by Te Reo Irirangi o Ngati Raukawa Trust, under the leadership of Emare Rose Nikora and Whiti te-Ra Kaihau, on 23 October 1990. Many of its first hosts were Tokoroa High School students, and most of its staff are still volunteers. It broadcasts on 95.7FM in
Tokoroa, 93.2FM in
Mangakino, and 90.6FM across the wider
Tumeke FM broadcasts to
Ngāti Awa. It was first known as Te Reo Irirangi o Te Manuka Tutāhi during a three-week AM trial run in 1990. It went to air as Tumeke FM on 6 April 1991, became Sun FM in 1994 to increase its advertising appeal, and between 1996 and 1999 worked to increase its Māori language content. This
classic hits station broadcasts on 96.9FM in
Sun FM 1065 was formerly broadcast on 98.5FM but is now on 106.5FM. Sun FM is the commercial arm of Tumeke FM and caters to an 18–35 audience, playing a Top 40 Format. The station is not funded by Te Mangai Paho.
Bridge FM 91.7 is operated by pan-tribal service provider Whakaatu Whanaunga Trust's Radio Portfolio and is available on 91.7FM in
Te Kaha, and everywhere else in between. Bridge FM plays music from the 50s to now. It also operates The Beat 88.1 FM, which is skewed towards a younger demographic, playing music from the 2000s to now. It broadcasts to local iwi
Te Arawa FM serves
Te Arawa iwi, including
Ngāti Whakaue. It was established in the early 1980s and became a charitable entity in November 1990. The station underwent a major transformation in 1993, becoming Whanau FM. One of the station's frequencies was taken over by
Mai FM in 1998; the other became Pumanawa FM before later reverting to Te Arawa FM. It is available on 88.7FM in
The Heat 991 FM is the commercial arm of Te Arawa FM, and started broadcasting on 15 April 2015. This station plays an Adult Urban format catering to a 25–45 audience playing RnB, Hip Hop, Reggae & Top 40 hits from the 80's to Now, and was the first affiliated Māori station to be on the iHeartRadio streaming platform. It has plans to expand into the other Bay of Plenty regions, and also Taupo. The station is not funded by Te Mangai Paho.
Awa FM broadcasts to the people of
Te Āti Haunui-a-Pāpārangi. The station began as Te Reo Irirangi O Whanganui 100FM on 17 June 1991. Between July 1992 and June 1993 it also operated a separate station in Ohakune, known as Te Reo Irirangi Ki Ruapehu or Nga Iwi FM, combining local programmes with shows from 100FM. It is available on 100.0FM in
Whanganui, 91.0FM in
Ruapehu, and 93.5FM in
Radio Kahungunu is the official station of
Ngāti Kahungunu. It began as
Tairawhiti Polytechnic training station Te Toa Takitini 2XY, making two short-term broadcasts on 1431 AM in December 1988, and October and November 1989. It was relaunched in 1990 as Radio Kahungunu 2XT, sharing the 765 AM frequency with Hawke's Bay's Racing Radio and Radio Pacific. It began broadcasting full-time in late 1991, moved dedicated studios at Stortford Lodge in the late 1990s, and began an FM simulcast on 4 September 2000. It broadcasts from
Hastings, and is available on 94.3FM and 765AM in
Central and Southern New Zealand
Kia Ora FM serves the people of
Rangitāne. It began as Radio Rangitane, or Te Reo Irirangi O Rangitane, on 1 May 1992, and adopted its current name in the 2000s. It broadcasts from
Palmerston North and is available on 89.8FM in
Atiawa Toa FM broadcasts to
Te Āti Awa and
Ngāti Toa. It began as Atiawa FM in 1993, broadcasting to Te Atiawa in the Hutt Valley and Wellington. It changed its name in Atiawa Toa FM in mid-1997, expanding its reach to Ngāti Toa in
Porirua and Kapiti Coast. The station is based in
Lower Hutt, and is available on 100.9 FM in
Hutt Valley and
Wellington, and on 106.9FM in
Te Upoko O Te Ika is a pan-tribal station in
Wellington, and New Zealand's longest-running Māori radio station. It began as Te Reo O Poneke or Radio Poneke, an independent experimental Māori language radio station which broadcast for short periods on
Radio Active between 1983 and 1986. In April 1987 it became the first full-time Māori language radio station, with the support of Nga Kaiwhakapumau i te Reo, the Wellington Board of Māori Language. It adopted the name Te Reo Irirangi Maori O Te Upoko O Te Ika, the call-sign 2XM, and the former frequency of
2ZM. The station serves Māori of all iwi, and is affiliated with
Ngāti Toa and
Taranaki iwi. It aims to immerse families and young people to the Māori language. In 2014, it aligned itself to Ngāti Toa and Taranaki to secure ongoing funding. The station is available on 1161AM across
Tahu FM is the official station of
Ngāi Tahu. Tahu FM began as Christchurch's Te Reo Iriraki Ki Otautahi on 6 February 1991. Between 1996 and 2001, it formed a broadcasting partnership with
Mai FM and began playing more
urban contemporary music. It changed its name to Mai FM in December 1997, before reverting to Tahu FM in 2001. It broadcasts in
Christchurch on 90.5FM. In 2000 it began broadcasting
Kaikoura on 90.7FM,
Dunedin on 95.0FM,
Invercargill on 99.6FM, and around the country on 505Sky Digital. Tahu FM resumed broadcasting five days after the
2011 Christchurch earthquake, with assistance from Te Upoko O Te Ika and other iwi radio stations, and operated as the city's Māori language civil defence station. In December 2014 it was recognised as the country's highest-rating Māori radio station.
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