Iwi radio stations pull R Kelly from the airwaves

updated By Rukuwai Tipene-Allen

Many iwi radio stations are supporting the #MuteRKelly movement and are pulling the R&B singer's music from the airwaves following allegations of sexual misconduct. 

Fans of American R&B will be familiar with R Kelly hits such as Vibe, Bump and Grind and Ignition.

But many iwi radio stations are pulling his music from the airwaves following allegations from women who featured in the Lifetime docu-series, Surviving R Kelly. 

Te Hiku Media have made their stance clear.  Announcer Daphne Popata says, "We have pulled R Kelly's music from our three radio stations at Te Hiku o Te Ika because we don't agree with that behaviour.  If we keep playing his music then we'd be saying that behaviour is ok for children."

A spokesperson from Tainui FM agrees, "Well, I think that until he's proven innocent or if he's ever proved innocent that we should all at least halt his music until then and I think that's what most

people are doing from what I've gathered."

Te Kāea contacted 18 iwi radio stations, 14 of whom stated that they would no longer broadcast the artist's music.

In a statement to Te Kāea, general manager of Te Whakaruruhau o Ngā Reo Irirangi Māori, Ebony Duff, said the choice to pull R Kelly's music from the airwaves was a decision made by individual stations and not a directive from Iwi Radio Network management, which represents 20 of the 21 stations.

Te Whakaruruhau o Ngā Reo Irirangi Māori provided the statement below to clarify their position.

"We wish to emphasise that at its heart, Māori Radio is a champion for te reo Māori me ōna tikanga and music is no exception. The National Music Director employed by Te Whakaruruhau on behalf of the Network, is a resource shared by all stations to coordinate access and promotion of the latest waiata Māori and information on our Māori artists.

Neither Te Whakaruruhau o Ngā Reo Irirangi Māori Executive nor the wider Network as a collective have discussed the issue of continuing to play music performed by the American artist Robert Kelly. Therefore the views expressed in your story are the individual views of each station canvassed.

Our Society Rules recognise, and provide for, te tino rangatiratanga of each of our individual member stations. The matter of music selection is very much an operational matter determined by the station manager and programme director which the Network as a collective would not delve into. The comments should not be attributed to being those of the collective “Iwi or Māori Radio” and we ask that the story be amended accordingly."

(*This article has been updated to include a response from Te Whakaruruhau o Ngā Reo Irirangi Māori)