30 years broadcasting te reo Māori

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes

Radio Kahungunu celebrates 30 years on air, but the battle for te reo Māori continues. 

"The main thing is that the language has improved, that's what we set out to do back with the Māori language petition, to secure the longevity of te reo Māori," says Joe Te Rito, chair of Radio Kahungunu. 

Pōtiki Teepa from Tūhoe has worked at Radio Kahungunu as a radio announcer since the station's beginning. 

“We're still here fighting for our language, but there are still interferences trying to oppress us and stop our language flourishing in the world,” he says.

Kahungunu elder Enoka Murphy says, “The saying goes, 'when the elders wither, the young will rise', well, some of those youth are now 60 years old.”

A room to broadcast news was secured at EIT Hawke's Bay in 1988, and in 2006 Radio Kahungunu opened their own independent radio station.

Te Rito says, “Broadcasting in-depth, political topics of the world, of the times, for Māori to quickly see these aspects affecting us and be able to respond appropriately."

According to Te Rito, the station's most valuable output is the online collection of nearly 2,000 interviews with local elders, recorded by Radio Kahungunu over the years.

“They're no longer with us but the positive thing is that their voices have been captured and live on as an example,” he says.

Keeping up with the times, Radio Kahungunu has developed their own app to make their service available to youth.

Teepa says, “The language is there in their device for them to take around, but the main thing for us older ones is to support them.”

Te Rito is confident Māori radio will continue into the future.