History of Maori radio broadcasting.


History of Maori radio broadcasting.


Maori is the native language in New Zealand .It is spoken by aborigines / natives living here. I’ll be sharing information about the first radio broadcast in Maori .when was it aired and where this entire channel was broadcast.


Radio broadcasting in Aotearoa New Zealand was going on since 1921 but not air in their native language until 1927. Airini Grenell (of Ngai Tahu ) sang for the listeners  and these performances were recorded by  Pentone Maori Variety Entertainers .  In the following year 1928 on the 6th of February Waitangi day ,an elaborate pageant of Maori history ,songs and stories were broadcasted by all four national radio stations and later were repeated for the international listeners .This known to be New Zealand’s most widely broadcast radio programme for that time .

42950-enz“‘Pioneering Māori broadcaster Airini Grenell broadcasts on the southern South Island non-commercial station 4ZB with John McFarlane (left) and Ian Watkins in the 1930s. She was a familiar and much-loved voice on New Zealand radio for four decades”.


In the same year J.F Montague the Pakeha speaker for the Maori , dedicated a series of programmes what he called the atrocious pronunciations of Maori words. In 1929 the following year of the program Hare hongi also known as Herny Stowell, of Napuhi tribe  took over as the host/presenter of Montague’s program .Various Maori groups were invited to perform on the national network .Maori  Native college choir were also invited to perform alongside other Maori groups .



The regional announcers

In the late 1930s the director of broadcasting, James Shelly appointed four Maori announcers . This meant that the four main cities in New Zealand will have their own radio announcers .The very first person who was employed in 1936 was Lou Paul (Ngati Whatua ) for Auckland .The other three were Kingi Tahiwi (Ngati Raukawa ) in Wellington ,Te Ari Pitama (Ngai Tahu), Christchurch,  and Airini Grenell the pioneer of  Maori  broadcasting in Dunedin .


Which was the first program entirely in Maori language?

It was broadcasted in 1940 the elders Maori persuade the government for this service. It was a daily 15 minutes new update on the 28th Maori Battalions who were overseas campaigning  during the second world war .Wiremu Parker ( Nagati Porou) was the broadcaster at the time who was excellent at using both languages Maori and English  and was widely acknowledged for his skills . He used to read out the listed causalities, latest new on the war and also covered the domestic Maori news.  “Parker vowed never to use a Non –Maori words in his bulletins”. He also broadcasted the return of the Maori Battalion to Wellington on 23th January in 1946. His broadcasting career has spanned over 40 years.


Piripi Walker (right) and Tama Te Huki in the studio of the Wellington Maori language radio station, Te Ūpoko o Te Ika, on its first day of broadcast in 1987.


The first Iwi radio station

In  1970 most of the fluent Moari broadcasters had been replaced by the younger lot who weren’t as fluent. The listeners encouraged the younger broadcasters to speak their language widely and try to improve, it was  a way of reviving  their language .


Which was the first permanent Maori radio station?

In the year 1987 Nga Kaiwhakapumau i te Reo established the te Reo o Te Upoko O Te Ika that ran for two months, May to June. There was a positive feedback from the listeners and the community which led the board to make this station permanent on air. Te Reo O Aoteroa  a new unit for the Radio New Zealand was formed .They were set up to air more of the programmes in Maori and other Pacific languages.

Te Upoko o Te Ika_25 yrs tohu-colour_final_small


Today New Zealand has over 16 local stations and more than 25 radio channels out of which only a hand full get airing time. Apart from The Breeze, Edge, Hits and ZM there are some radio channels that don’t get airtime due to lack of listeners. In today’s date in New Zealand apart from music stations people still tune in to listen to the news and the sports often because it is one the quickest form of pieces of information passed on through air. Exploring the History of New Zealand’s radio history was really interesting .I did agree with some bits as I was reading through some of the articles Eg. When the younger broadcasters  forgot their importance of their own languages and they had to be guided by the elders and the community. Overall I learnt something interesting about New Zealand’s radio broadcasting history.

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