$900 million allocated for Māori in this years’ budget, what’s not to like? Less than 0.3% of the total budget for Māori and the highest polling results for Labour leadership in years plus a country bound to collectively dream of banishing a global pandemic from our lands.

Māori have had very low numbers of COVID-19 and thanks in no small part to the mobilisation of Māori led organisations. Te Ranga Tupua Response Hub here in Whanganui made up of over 36 partners in the region including Ngā Rauru, Whanganui, Tupoho, Ngāti Rangi, Uenuku Ngāti Apa, Ngā Waiariki, health providers like Te Oranganui, Mokai Patea working with Civil Defence Emergency centres, Whanganui District Health board and local, regional councils.

Te Ranga Tupua Response hub, set up to protect our kaumatua and vulnerable ones from COVID-19 these last six weeks, as we traversed the NZ lockdown stages of Level 4 Eliminate, Level 3 Reduce and now Level 2 Contain and maintain vigilance, the hub has supplied care packs to kaumatua, food packages, assisted in daily groccery shopping, the fulfilling of pharmacy scripts, dispensed ‘how to’ advice and been available via phone to just listen when people needed to talk. Our collective success has seen our region lead in the highest numbers of vulnerable Māori in the country to have had flu vaccinations. So it’s not a COVID-19 cure, however as Wheturangi Walsh Tapiata CEO of Te Oranganui has explained, it has proved that Māori have listened and are actively taking steps to protect our health.

The forced stay at home for our local businesses that have seen them cease, reduce and unsure if they will rise again relies on a recovery budget. Māori already over-subscribed in the unemployment stakes could now see the health gains achieved under lockdown vanish under the weight of this further enforced poverty.

So it was a relief when the PM Jacinda led Labour government announced $900million targeting Māori education, whanau ora, te reo, health for Māori.

Money however, can not assuage the grief that our loss of consultation as regards tikanga for tangihanga goes. While Māori iwi rose from all over the country to decry the initial government ruling of only ten people permitted at a tangihanga in Level 2, eventually changed thanks to our collective action to allow fifty mouners all up at tangi, bars and restaurants are allowed to have up to 100 patrons and serve alcohol, schools are able to operate and yes, even sex workers were all green lit.

The indignity of the rushed farewell for te reo activist and tribal leader Dr Huirangi Waikerepuru under Lockdown Level 4 remains a stark reminder of the pain we bear unable to farewell a much loved teacher, poet, mentor in a manner befitting his mana.

In lockdown Level 2 it’s like an ongoing slap in the face. Māori could not be trusted to grieve appropriately under pandemic restrictions, but we can send our kids to school, go out and get drinks in bars and buy sex services.

The indecent haste of the ill-fated Public Health Response bill passed with urgency with its rights to enter marae without a warrant needs immediate constitutional review and reform.

Let’s hope the ‘Be kind’ campaign that has captured the hearts and minds of a whole nation into a self-enforced economic plummet for the health of people, is much much more than very clever electioneering.

No reira ki te Premiere a Aōtearoa Jacinda Adern mā he mihi ki a koutou mo o mahi ataahua i tēnēi wā o Uru tā, “Mā te huruhuru ka rere ai te manu”, kia kaha, kia maia, kia manawanui!

COVID19 letter to whanau (from one of the 5 million foot soldiers)

20 o Paengāwhawha 2020

Te mirumiru 115 /Bubble Number 115

Dearest whanau beyond our 2km radius block,

Today like you all, I rushed away from my work laptop to my desktop in the home office to try and get a picture of me and PM Jacinda as she made her next historic announcement. You can see the results above. People have died in this war against COVID19 and yes, it’ll be ANZAC day come Saturday as PM Jacinda reminded us.

I thought why not put in a poppy picture for rememberance after all, it’s a special endangered poppy, y’know one that’s made here in Aōtearoa.

To be fair, the war in lockdown four Whanganui is going really really well. Not sure if PM Jacinda is going to allow this letter on the virtual highways of NZ to reach you – after all we are in a battlezone – but I hope Whanganui region does get a mention, somewhere.

There’s only 48,000 of us here and as usual, those soldiers in Tamaki with their 1.5 million are getting all the tests, special detention centres and to make it worse, masks that we manufacture right here are being shipped off to them as we speak! PM Jacinda will def. redact that ‘cos there’s a global shortage and we don’t want others finding out Whanganui is the epicentre of mask making in Oceania.

Anyway, our bubble is thriving after your ideas to make sure we get into more of a routine worked a treat. So now we’re only watching Neflix for five days straight (Instead of previously randomly and aimlessly watching them on an ad hoc basis) plus the kitchen is now a ‘no go zone’ …… unless its your turn to cook.

Turns out that throwing out all our cookbooks in the first week and eating out the reserve kai in the second food fridge and freezer in the second week to prove we weren’t all traitorous panic buyers, was a complete waste of time. Now everyone in the bubble in this the third week, is lining up to cook so most of our living area has turned into some kind of marae pantry/kitchen/baking/marinating/growing with a silver service dining table and a takeaway bar attached area.

Those of you that can still afford fibre and can get internet access will have seen my daily supermarket price updates on our bubble FB page, for those of you that haven’t made it out of your nighties or are too busy with the home brewing, get in your car and turn it on (staying in the driveway of course!) to listen to radio. You have to give the cars a rev up anyway unless the nominated shopper also takes the cars out one by one to keep them working. A BIG reminder, make sure the garage door is open before you turn the car on and listen to the radio. Anyhow, there’s this website to report price hikes but if you can get a radio, talkback has you covered.

Everyone in our block has been super on to it, no-one has been on the fence about this.

In the three weeks of Level 4 one neighbour phoned to say he has reported twenty-five incidents of people out walking dogs around the block and failing to take two metres of social distancing, imagine wanting to chat in a war zone. He’s reported every one to the police dobb in special phone line and I think he deserves a medal.

But back to todays’ announcement, our leader, PM Jacinda is sending us all back to the front line till Monday 28 April. That’s seven more days away, then we are to fall back to Level 3 for two weeks. She meets with all the Cabinet generals after that to see if we go back to the front line again. I just hope it all happens before our bubble decides to branch out into gourmet hangi cooking and take over the whole whare for preparations.

Arohanui from Whanganui

Bubble 115

COMMS UPDATES: We are running phone or email contacts only. After three weeks of being tied into zui, skype hui, Google hangouts our bubble sergeant declared a strict nightie, e lavalava, pjamas only battle dress code to get us thru the final frontline week. xxx

Maranga ake Aōtearoa

This week, Renae Maihi, filmmaker endured four days of court proceedings against her while Taika Waititi shook up the Oscars with his mihi to tangata whenua of Turtle island. Renae was taken to court by one of the richest people in New Zealand. ‘The millionaire property investor was suing Maihi after she started a petition calling a column he wrote racist, and hate-speech.’ (Meriana Johnson NZ Herald) The case was withdrawn on the fifth day after only one day of Renae Maihis’ evidence.

The case has been well-documented and taking a leaf from Prime Minister Adern book along with the Taika Waititi ‘Give nothing to racism’ campaign I won’t be naming said millionaire property investor either.

It is 25 years since the recclaimation of Māori lands at Pakaitore, Whanganui. At Pakaitore this week, sitting under the ‘kai’ tree listening to the kōrero ebb and flow around me, it seemed unreal that after the sacrifices, the struggles, the education that Māori are providing for all our country, that Māori like Renae are still being tried for speaking up.

Perhaps more poignant is that in the NZ Herald photo above we see yet another generation of Māori and supporters like Davey Salmon (son of Prof. Anne Salmon) Renaes’ defence lawyer and team rallying to support Renae and her kaupapa.

Renae joins Pania Newton at Ihumato and doubless many more not as well documented all over our whenua who every day wage the fight for Māori land, language and culture to be recognised.

It is time for all of this country to get ‘woke’ to Māori sovereignty. Perhaps one day, like the waiata of our prophet Mere Rikiriki Māori will awaken to ” Haruru ana te rongopai nei” until then it is as our last generation of Ngā Tama Toa asserted in the 70’s taken from the rangatira of Maniapoto “Ka whawhai tonu matou!”

(Pictured Above L-R 2nd Pat Hakaraia, Ratu Tibble, Leo Koziol, Dame Gaylene Preston, Renae Maihi, Rob Mokaraka, Hinemoa Awatere, Heperi Mita, Katie Wolf, Becs Arahanga, Suzanne Tamaki: Source: Meriana Johnsen NZ Herald)

Ngā Tangata o te Moana-nui-ā-Kiwa

From the call of a Tahitian kaumatua to help save their language and culture identity by the forming of an Oceania-wide new media fund (Pictured above), to Heperi Mita FIFO winning film “Mereata Mita: How Mum decolonized the Screen” to NITV Australias’ Anusha Duray “Nothing about us without us” and last but not least, FIFO co-founder Walles Kotra assertion “Oceania … exists only because we meet.”

FIFO 17th documentary festival in Papeete Tahiti was a blast. Made even more memorable for the aspirations of indigenous content creators mixing, mingling and exchanging stories from Samoa, Vanuatu, Rarotonga, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, Aōtearoa and all over the Pasifika.

2020 Papeete with its homeless people stranded on waterfront parks in full view of massive tourist cruise liners, was as far from the Gaugin painted tableaux of my high school art history lessons as you could get. Markets run by locals are hidden in the back blocks while seaside shops with high glossy shop windows front the main roads.

Invited to take part in this festival courtesy of FIFO 2020 I jumped on the Air Tahiti flight (lovely turquoise plane seats with cushions of yellow, pink, red, lime cushions) not really knowing what to expect. At best, a documentary feast, at worst a chance to enjoy balmy island winds.

Tahiti as a French overseas territory is a long way from Paris but surprisingly, many of the locals I met, talked about Paris like we talk about going to Auckland, despite it being a 23 and a half hour plane ride away. Tahitian and Māori are so similar and I was forever being reminded “E kore au e ngaro te kakano i ruia mai i Rangiatea.”

FIFO documentary festival is 17 years old (one year older than Māori TV) founded by Heremoana Maamaatuaiahutapu now Minister of Culture Polynesia and Walles Karte now Head of Overseas Territories for French Television it has been a labour of love for these two. Now run by an impressive organisation it has gone from strength to strength.

While we were there, the announcments of the nominations of Taika Waititi and Chelsea Winstanley for best picture at the Academy Awards no less was like we won the film lottery, the world of native creatives had well and truly arrived.

With a large, local and enthusiastic documentary loving audience, endless warm weather even with the occassional windstorm and typhoon like rain, this FIFO is simply Pasifika magic.


We, the media of Oceania, assembled in Tahiti for the 14th Oceanian Television Symposium at the 17th FIFO Festival (International Festival for Oceanian documentary Film) make an urgent appeal to the governments of the countries of the South Pacific and members of the Pacific Islands Forum, calling for the establishment of a regional support fund for Oceanian audiovisual and digital creation.

In the face of:

  • Risk of losing of our respective countries’ audiovisual heritage, particularly due to the arrival of international content platforms;
  • Risk of our languages being lost;
  • Risk of a dilution of our identities and values;
  • Difficulties related to the dissemination and sharing of our work throughout Oceania and beyond, due in particular to the additional cost of translation;
  • The tsunami of formatted content that is far removed from our realities;
  • Erosion of our unique heritages due to a tsunami of international information. Furthermore, this fund would:
  • Allow story tellers from Oceania to relate their own stories and cultures, just as the FIFO has enabled them to do so since 2004;
  • Help create, keep talent in our region, and promote them internationally;
  • Respond to the need for digital content that is authentic to Oceania created from trusted sources;
  • Multiply the opportunities for the creation of content;
  • Stimulate excellence;
  • Aid participation in the emergence or consolidation of the audiovisual and digital sectors;
  • Foster the creation of jobs;
  • Contribute to the economic development of our countries;
  • Increase regional and international visibility of Oceanian works and cultures,
  • And participate in the essential mobilisation in the fight against climate change. There is an urgent need to create this regional support fund.

FIFO 2020 celebrates the success of one of this years documentary producers, Chelsea Winstanley (Mereata Mita How Mum Decolonized the World) with her nomination for an Academy Award as the first Native woman producer to attain this achievement.

Oceania has the talent, drive and passion to tell our stories in our own voices – allow us the opportunity to be seen and heard or like the fabled Huia bird we will be lost and our voices forever silenced.

Laurent Corteel (France) Gonzague De la Bourdonnaye (Nouvelle-Calédonie) Patrick Durand Gaillard (Nouvelle-Calédonie) Anusha Duray (Australie) Luc de Saint Sernin (France) Whetu Fala (Nouvelle-Zélande) Bénédicte Gambay (Nouvelle-Calédonie) Guillaume Gérard (Wallis et Futuna) Fabrice Juste (Tahiti) Francis Herman (Vanuatu) Gérard Hoarau (Tahiti)

Walles Kotra (Nouvelle-Calédonie) Faisea Matafeo (Samoa) Mateata Maamaatuaiahutapu (Tahiti) Jeanne Matenga (Cook Island) Teva Pambrum (Wallis et Futuna) Samantha Reynaud (Nouvelle-Calédonie) Stephen Stehlin (Nouvelle-Zélande) Stella Taaroamea (Tahiti) Norbert Taofifenua (Wallis et Futuna) John Utanga (Nouvelle-Zélande) Ashley Vindin (Nouvelle-Calédonie) Miriama Bono (Tahiti)

Te Hokingā mai

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,  Teariki Mei we trooped down to Te Upoko for site visits, mostly to cook kai and or prepare kai for manuhiri. Firstly at Wakefield Street premises then when it was pulled down, over 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.