Whakaata Māori has changed in the TV landscape in New Zealand

In the 19 years that Whakaata Māori has been on the air, a lot has changed in the world of media.

“When we think about what’s been achieved over that period of time, we now have a context where the Māori language is being spoken and reflected in the mainstream media, which I think comes down to the efforts of the Māori themselves, driving and pushing for that shift to occur but being able, like APTN, to be the decision maker around editorial content,” says Whakaata Māori chief executive officer, Shane Taurima on the latest episode of Face to Face.

“The decision maker around technology and what platforms you’re going to engage in to connect with audiences is a very special thing.”

Taurima was in Winnipeg this week, part of a delegation visiting APTN world headquarters. It was a visit to build on the relationship the two broadcasters formalized in December 2022 with a three-year memorandum of understanding that outlines the relationship and how the two Indigenous broadcasting entities will work together to tell Indigenous stories.

The Māori delegation has also visited CBS in New York and presented at the United Nations on Indigenous media.

“Many of our stories went untold, many of our stories were misrepresented, as I know is the case for many other Indigenous communities across the globe,” says Taurima. “Which is why it’s really important, especially when we think about the conversation we had last week at the UN, that Indigenous communities have the ability and opportunity to tell their own stories but also make decisions about how they tell those stories. We know that our stories are best told by us.”

Taurima says there was a mixed reaction from legacy media in New Zealand when Whakaata Māori launched in 2004. Today, many reporters and others working at mainstream networks, got their start at Whakaata Māori.

Taurima says it’s not just about sharing content, it’s about sharing knowledge and learning from one another. A potential staff exchange is also being discussed.

As Whakaata Māori prepares to celebrate it’s 20th year on the air in 2024, Taurima believes the future is bright for the network, with a population that is hungry for content about Māori language and culture.

“Everything that we as Indigenous people, Māori and Aotearoa in New Zealand have, we have got through struggle,” says Taurima. “It certainly hasn’t been handed to us. It’s struggle through protest, it’s struggle through activism, it’s struggle with the courts, its struggle in tribunals.

“Everything that we have, we have gotten through struggle and fight. And so, it’s incumbent on us as the current generation to ensure that that fight continues, whether that be on media platforms or in schools and education, or wherever that may be.”

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