Call for Māori ministers to support Te Ūpoko o te Ika

By Regan Paranihi

The longest standing iwi radio station, Te Ūpoko o te Ika, could face closure. Chief Operating Officer at Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, Julian Wilcox, says that it is unacceptable.

Wilcox has raised concerns over the lack of support the Māori Ministers have for Te Ūpoko o te Ika and questions whether they will stand up for other iwi radio stations.

“At Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu we put significant investment into our radio station Tahu FM, as we understand the importance of iwi radio. Surely we can expect the same from our Ministers,” Wilcox says. 

He also says the potential closure of the country’s leading iwi radio station is unimaginable.

“Te Ūpoko led the way for iwi radio in Aotearoa and it seems unimaginable that we could lose the station.”

Wilcox says Minister Willie Jackson has the responsibility as the Minister for Te Reo Whakapuaki Irirangi (Māori Broadcasting Funding Agency) to protect iwi radio. However, the importance of this kaupapa should be recognised by all Māori Ministers.

“Tahu FM is the only Māori radio station in Te Waipounamu, broadcasting to over 80% of the South Island population. We want Ministers, particularly Minister Jackson, to publically state his support for Te Ūpoko, and for iwi radio in general, to ensure iwi radio is appropriately protected, supported, and funded.”

Minister of Māori Development, Nanaia Mahuta, says it is up to Te Māngai Pāho to decide where the funding for iwi radio.

"I support that there is a place for iwi radio stations, however, it is up to Te Māngai Pāho to decide where funding is distributed to enhance their work, but that is a conversation both iwi radio stations and Te Māngai Pāho need to have between themselves. "