Te Ūpoko radio station facing potential closure

The country's first te reo Māori radio station, Te Ūpoko o te Ika could be facing closure unless iwi license holders give consent to broadcast.

Te Ūpoko has spent more than 33 years on air.  In 1985 it became the first radio station to broadcast in te reo Māori.

But the Wellington iwi radio station could soon be off air.

Te Ūpoko Board member Piripi Walker says, "We are saddened by the situation we have found ourselves in.  The station last received its monthly in June.”

“The radio station is now on its last legs, with funding expected to last for a few months or even weeks, by which time the station will also lose the lease to its building.”

Walker says “The station has lost its strength with the little funding it receives.  It has been a labour of love for most of the employees, including for the costs of maintaining the building.”

“We have come to this point and we have not received funding for the last two months so the board is saddened by this situation.”

In a statement to Te Kāea Te Māngai Paho said, "Subject to confirmation that Te Ūpoko o te Ika has the consent of the licence-holders to broadcast on 1161 AM, Te Māngai Pāho has agreed to continue the operational funding of Te Ūpoko o te Ika for the 2018/19 financial year. "

"Unfortunately, Te Māngai Pāho is not able to make any payment of funds under that agreement until Te Ūpoko o te Ika can confirm it has the consent of the licence-holders to broadcast on the frequency."

Those licenses belong to Te Atiawa and Ngati Toa. 

Walker says the ongoing issue of licensing lies with the Crown.

“We’ve been running for over 30 years but it’s only since it has come under two license holders that the station has been troubled.”

Te Ūpoko will meet with Te Atiawa and Ngāti Toa Rangatira next week.