I te wā i wehe ahau i te kaingā i ki atu tōku Mama ” Kāore te mana i tae i roto i te mera, āra, mā te iwi te mana.” This message, “Mana doesn’t come in the mail, it is given by the people” was a parting gift from my mother when I left home at 17 years of age, eager to lead my own life, full of the importance of a job promotion and the adventure of living in a new town.
I didn’t get it, mana could not be sent in the mail, that was an absurd notion! Besides, my teenage mind reasoned, what kind of person would our iwi want to bestow it on? I couldn’t name any All Blacks, Silver Ferns, Black Sticks, Kiwis, Nobel Prize winners, inductees into the Music Hall of fame from our iwi, people, I felt, were worthy of such distinction. I put it down to one of the many unfathomable sayings of our mother and left it at that.
Returning home almost forty years later and having the honour of working at AwaFM, I’m finally beginning to understand Mums’ words. My love for iwi radio stems from 1987 and Te Upoko o te Ika Wellington NZ (The first Māori radio station in the world) when as a te reo student at Kuratini Wellington Polytechnic with Hiria Hape, Lee Smith, Huirangi Waikerepuru, Te Ariki Mei, we all trooped down to Te Upoko for site visits, mostly to cook kai and or prepare kai for manuhiri. Firstly at Wakefield Street premises, then at Lambton Quay and Willis Street corner. It was an exciting time for all Māori, we finally had Māori radio and television was the last frontier. I directed my first independent television documentary about Te Upoko o Te Ika in 1993 and that documentary screened on TV3 and was selected for screenings at Dreamspeakers Festival Canada, Message Sticks Sydney Film Festival and many other festivals. Little did we realise then that it would be 16 years later in 2004 before Māori Television channel would eventuate.
Working at AwaFM all these years later, everyday, in the interviews, stories given to us in iwi radio, we have the privilege of broadcasting our people from all areas of life from science to the arts, active promoters of whanau ora, tertiary study to competitors in sporting events. These stories and lives, may not garner recognition in a Queens Honour list or the starting line-up of an Olympic final, but they are proof positive that actively pursuing and attaining mana enhancing pathways for life is the prize.
As tribal sound archivists in iwi radio, we do our best to ensure these kōrero taongā, these treasures are available on the internet, in the cars, living rooms, offices, study rooms of Whanganui and a global network via online, 24/7 for all to access.
I te hokingā mai ki te kaingā i ki atu ahau ” He aha te kai ā te rangatira? He kōrero!”
Clockwise: Bottom 2019 March Kaunihera Kaumatua Whanganui, AwaFM Board, AwaFM station Top Left: Whanganui River Landguard Bluff 2019 Top Right: Te Upoko o te Ika celebrates 25 years 2013 Henare Kingi Te Reo Māori award.