By Maimoa Toataua Wallace
I was born in Taranaki in 1998 and therefore missed out on experiencing the efforts fought for the revitalisation of te reo Māori. Instead, I was one of the many fruits of those hard-fought efforts. Being brought up in a fully Māori-immersed education from kōhanga reo, kura kaupapa and wharekura, I grew up learning about important national events like the hīkoi to parliament, Bastion Point and the South African (Springbok) Tour. Working here at Ngā Taonga has given me the opportunity to watch and listen to these events through film, video and audio – allowing me to have the opportunity to share and resurface the voices and faces of these kaumātua (elders) for Aotearoa to see again and re-connect with.
One of these opportunities is the Matariki Hunga Nui – Matariki of Many People programme which has been a personal journey for me to learn more about Māori broadcasters that championed the revitalisation of te reo Māori. Going into this programme, it is important to note that I had very little background knowledge of the following broadcasters. It is through this programme that I had the privilege to learn more about these people and acknowledge their mahi (work) appropriately through the coming of Matariki, the Māori new year.
About Matariki Hunga Nui – Matariki of Many People
Every year Ngā Taonga celebrates Matariki with a short video loop featuring items from the collections. In 2021 we prepared a 20-minute audio-visual loop called Matariki Ahunga Nui – The Great Mounds of Matariki. This programme had a special focus on some of the children of Matariki and the different kai (food) associated with each. Matariki Ahunga Nui – The Great Mounds of Matariki demonstrated the importance of growing and gathering food throughout the year and preparing it for storage during the cold winter months. Featuring the stars:
- Tupuānuku (Atlas) This star is associated with kai that’s sourced from the ground.
- Tupuārangi (Pleione) This star is associated with kai that’s sourced from the sky.
- Waitī (Maia) This star is associated with kai from freshwater rivers, streams, and lakes.
- Waitā (Taygeta) This star is associated with kai that comes from the ocean.
This year Ngā Taonga has prepared another video in celebration of the first Matariki Holiday on 24 June 2022, Matariki Hunga Nui – Matariki of Many People. This is a 15-minute audio-visual programme focusing on the star of the Matariki cluster; Pōhutukawa.There are also two versions of this programme, both in te reo Māori and English, to facilitate the two audiences (reo speaking and non-reo speaking). Featuring the star:
- Pōhutukawa (Sterope) Through this star Māori acknowledge their departed loved ones.
Here, I profile our unique broadcasters and explore some of the key insights into the selected clips and some of the mātauranga Māori applications involved. The broadcasters are Merata Mita, Puhi Rangiaho, Kīngi Īhaka, Henare te Ua, Whai Ngata and Wiremu Kerekere.
The order of the broadcasters in the programme is also important, the idea was for the order to follow the marae protocols where the first voice heard on a marae is that of the wahine (women) during the karanga (ceremonial call during a welcoming), following the wahine/kuia (elderly women) are the tāne (males) that occupy the paepae (orators’ bench) in whaikōrero (formal speech-making).
Merata Mita (1942 – 2010) Ngāi Te Rangi, Ngāti Pikiao
Merata Mita is well-recognised as a film director and producer for some of the most famous Māori documentaries and films like Bastion Point Day 507, Mana Waka, Mauri, PATU! and Utu – a staunch storyteller who expressed a Māori perspective on screen. Despite the many hurdles faced by Merata, she was resilient in establishing her career in the world of film and media. In the 1980s Merata was also the presenter for the TV programme Koha.
Koha – TZP741 (27/01/1981):
Merata Mita introduces Koha and the start of Māori Language Week in 1981. This was included to display to the audience Merata Mita presenting on-screen in te reo Māori. Keeping in mind the opening title of Koha, it behaves somewhat like a time capsule for the audience that recognises it.
Koha – TZP9378 (16/09/1984):
Merata talks with an interviewer about her experiences in filmmaking with Bastion Point Day 507, PATU! and Utu. This excerpt was selected as Merata Mita faced many challenges in her career being both Māori and a wahine in the filmmaking industry, giving an insight into her source of strength.
Read more about Merata Mita in this 2018 blog by her son, filmmaker Heperi Mita.
Puhi Rangiaho (1945 – 2016) Ngāi Tūhoe
Puhi Rangiaho was one of the first female Māori broadcasters that encouraged and championed using te reo māori and te ao Māori perspectives behind and in front of the camera, set or screen. She was involved with many different programmes from Waka Huia, Te Karere and Te Kai a te Rangatira, involved with almost everything from the writing of scripts to rehearsal and editing.
Puhi Rangiaho speaks of the differences between Māori and Pākehā perspectives in the television industry. Puhi also references the te ao Māori principle of whakamā (embarrassment) and whakaiti (humility) that reflects on the proverb by Te Wharehuia Milroy: ‘Ko te whakaiti te whare o te whakaaro nui’ that would translate to ‘Humility is the stronghold of compassion’.
For more about Puhi Rangiaho check out this audio recording of her interview in te reo Māori with Kohine Ponika (Ngāi Tūhoe) for Maioha, a section on Te Reo o Te Pipiwharauroa:
Kīngi Īhaka (1942 – 2017) Te Aupōuri
At the age of 19, Kīngi Īhaka was the youngest SAS soldier in New Zealand at the time (the 1960s). Kīngi had a well-versed career working as a prison guard and a policeman. He was later approached by Whai Ngata in 1981 to work on a new series called Waka Huia, to interview the elders of the country at the time and preserve their stories.
Kīngi accompanied Sir Hector Busby (Te Rarawa) and his double-hulled waka Te Aurere on the return journey from Aotearoa New Zealand to Rarotonga in 1992. With a beautiful change in scenery, Kīngi is on board a boat broadcasting to Aotearoa while in Rarotonga. Behind Kīngi is the island of Rarotonga with the wind blowing, and the ocean crashing. A truly māori (natural) environment and appropriate to broadcast for such a special occasion.
To find out more about Kīngi Īhaka check out New Zealand On Screen here:
Henare Te Ua (1993 – 2007) Ngāti Porou
Henare Te Ua was widely recognised for his work in radio and exceptional orator in both te reo Māori and English. It is due to the hard work and efforts of Henare in preserving Māori audio recordings collected on tape, discs and films that brought about the Ngā Taonga Kōrero Collection. During his life, he often attended many events and occasions across the country pertaining to kaupapa Māori with a microphone in hand, always ready to interview and record.
Henare Te Ua talks about the establishment and naming of Ngā Taonga Kōrero, the Radio New Zealand Archive collection. There were many different films to select for Henare. Here, Henare Te Ua highlights the importance of the Ngā Taonga Kōrero collection through its name which can also be reflected in the name of Ngā Taonga Whitiāhua Me Ngā Taonga Kōrero – Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision.
Check out this link for a short story told by Henare Te Ua of the Marupapanui legend on the Bay of Plenty National Station in 1978:
Tanara Whairiri Kitawhiti Ngata (1942 – 2016) Te Whānau-a-Apanui, Ngāti Porou
Whai Ngata was well-established in the broadcasting industry in both radio and television. He worked at Radio New Zealand in 1975 later moving to Television New Zealand in 1983. He worked on programmes like Network News, Te Karere and Waka Huia – which was launched in 1987 under the direction of Whai Ngata.
Waka Huia (23/11/1997):
Whai Ngata explains the idea behind the Waka Huia series: to preserve the stories and mātauranga (knowledge) of kāumātua (elders) for the benefit of the next generation. Waka Huia is now a well-recognised television series, especially within te ao Māori. This excerpt is a beautiful reminder of why shows like Waka Huia are important for the preservation of mātauranga Māori for the next generation.
Listen to this audio recording for more information regarding maramataka (Māori lunar calendar) explained by none other than Whai Ngata, with Te Matarēhua Wikiriwhi and Selwyn Muru:
Wiremu Bill Kerekere (1923 – 2001) Te Aitanga-a-Māhaki
Wiremu Kerekere was a pioneer in Māori broadcasting and radio. Despite being an excellent singer, he was also a songwriter for many groups like the Pātea Māori club and Ngāti Pōneke club. Taught under the wings of the many leaders before him such as Leo Fowler and Wiremu Parker, he was also a mentor to the many after him in Henare Te Ua and Whai Ngata.
Wiremu Kerekere introduces himself and talks about his early years in radio broadcasting. He is hopeful for the future of reo, given the standard of current broadcasters. Wiremu also recognises a lot of broadcasters who we did not cover in this programme and through the mihi that Wiremu gave to them we extend ours.
The following is a beautiful recording of Wiremu Kerekere explaining the story of Pōpō, a famous mōteatea composed by Enoka Te Pakaru:
Although there are many broadcasters who aren’t covered in this programme, their work and efforts in relation to the kaupapa of this programme are nothing short of inspiring. Instead, this programme focuses on a smaller group of broadcasters that were well-recognised for their efforts in the revitalisation of te reo Māori. We acknowledge the efforts of all Māori broadcasters and their mahi nonetheless.
It is also important to acknowledge the many broadcasters who played an intricate role in this programme Matariki Hunga Nui – Matariki of Many People. It is through their kōrero and mahi that gave this programme its integrity. Their hard work and efforts established te reo within the walls of media giving fruit to the taonga we have today. Therefore, like the tukutuku panels (ornament lattice work) inside a wharenui (meeting house) – it is only appropriate that their stories are acknowledged and displayed with the stars of Matariki, throughout this programme.
Lastly, extending my final mihi to the whānau of all the broadcasters involved for their approval of incorporating the footage of their loved ones. Nei rā ka mihi, nei rā ka mihi, nei rā au ka noho. Mānawatia a Matariki!