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Maori broadcasting is thriving and now is the time to invest more in our people

This would have to be one of the longest election cycles in New Zealand’s recent history for no other reason than the delay in the election caused by COVID19. You would think that many New Zealanders are getting worn out by the campaigning, the policy announcements and the coverage but in all reality when it comes to Maori the real story in town is the veritable buffet of candidates and parties to choose from. In actual fact the buffet would probably be a three-course meal with a dud pudding had it not been for our Maori broadcasters and the role they are playing to really bring the buffet to the people.

Three years ago we saw the rise of social media as a tool for messaging and, of course, that has only increased – but the role of traditional Maori media, radio, T.V and online has played a seriously increasing and much needed role.

Previously you would only really tune into the mainstream networks in the hope Maori would get a message but today, across all networks, we are seeing a rise in the insatiable need for more focussed time when it comes to Maori Affairs. In fact, let me go back further to the recognition of Te Reo Maori as an official language that then turned into the historical Radio Spectrum Claim taken before the Waitangi Tribunal. In that claim it was very much about how we then project our language and culture to our people across the Motu or wherever they may be. That includes our stories and our people out there making a difference.

Coming full circle the intent of the claim is being realised whereby this election we are seeing more of our Maori content on air – more of our candidates having a voice and the nurturing of our online talent around deep diving into policies and plans that will impact Maori. The Hui on TV 3 has been holding a range of candidate debates across the Maori electorates while Maori TV has been playing a significant role. From Te Ao Marama to Te Ao Marama mornings and nights to the flagship of Te Ao with Moana – if it is one thing I know as a former broadcaster the content being delivered is exactly what was always envisioned. Quality, intellectual and relatable.

Then there is Iwi and Maori radio from Waatea in Tamaki to Te Hiku Radio up the mighty Tai Tokerau – from Te Arawa FM through to Ngati Porou Radio on the coast – all of them have been doing an outstanding job covering not just the election but also the Te Ao Maori world.

But we need to sustain this trajectory if we are truly to realise our full potential as Maori broadcasters, content developers. On and off-air talent and the only way we can do that is by ensuring we continue to invest in Maori broadcasting. In actual we must go further and not shy away from the need to increase the investment we currently must ensure those stories by us, of us and for us do not get lost between elections. The growth of programs such as Te Ao with Moana right through to the Hui must never rely on small pots of funding – they should be funded to reach their full potential – as must Te Karere over at TVNZ and many others across the nation.

When the election campaign is over lets not just reflect on what the full potential is – lets reflect on where we can go from here – investing in growth, creation of new jobs, a building of our Maori broadcasting industry and much more. We need to seize opportunities across new and old platforms, create a story telling network unrivalled in the Indigenous and mainstream world and grow and nurture our current and new talent.

Anything less would let the side down and if someone, somewhere ends up taking us backwards i'll be the first to beat the drum to defend our content, our broadcasters and programming.

About the Author: Matthew Tukaki is the Executive Director of the New Zealand Maori Council and is also a former National Radio Broadcaster in Australia on the Macquarie Radio platform 2GB 2UE. Tukaki was a syndicated Broadcaster across the combined Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth markets. Tukaki is also Chair of news distribution company, NewsNow and EHNSB.


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