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Wednesday, 27 March 2019 04:20 pm

Iwi radio stations get training boost to help further te reo

IWI radio stations across New Zealand have been getting a boost through a radio training programme.

The initiative, which Whitireia Radio School has run for the past two years, assists those who work in iwi radio stations in gaining nationally-recognised qualifications.

Many who work at iwi radio stations have the skills and drive needed to complete a radio course. However, because the nearest training centre may be hours away, their work can go unrecognised.

The radio training programme’s value comes from its awareness of this fact. Tutors involved in the programme travel to each station and teach on-site, which allows those who are living in far-flung areas of New Zealand to have their abilities recognised.

Beyond simply bridging the geographical divide, this method has a number of other benefits, says programme co-ordinator Debbie Baker.

“When you look at an iwi station, every one is different. Every one has different equipment, different software, different hardware.

“When we leave, they actually know how to work their own gear better, as opposed to knowing how to work somebody else’s.”

The on-site training also allows tutors to tailor the programme to suit the needs of each individual station, she says.

“What we do is we look for the needs, and then we come up with solutions that are going to best serve the station.”

Throughout the programme, those involved are given voice training and guidance on how to write succinct news reports. General journalism skills, such as interviewing and story-sourcing, are also taught.

The iwi radio stations were set up with the intention of promoting and preserving Maori culture and language, Ms Baker says.

“Iwi wanted representation, and the ability to be able to talk to people in Te Reo Maori.  “The stations were originally set up to promote local dialect, too.”

Whitireia radio tutor Ana Tapiata, who helps deliver the programme, says the stations play an essential role in the preservation of Maori language.

“Anything that gives voice to a community is great. In the case of iwi radio stations, they have a particular focus on Maori language usage and revitalisation.

“Given that there are still some concerns about the health of the Maori language, the role that iwi radio plays is hugely important.”

There are, however, challenges facing the programme. Ms Tapiata notes that those involved in community radio often leave for the ‘glam jobs’, such as those at Maori Television. There is also the problem of finding enough people to run the stations on low or no wages.

“People don’t have the time that they used to have to commit to causes like that,” she says.

“People mistakenly think that the language is okay now, and so they don’t think there’s a need to get involved in that kind of stuff.”

The iwi radio training contract is due to expire in June, and Te Mangai Paho, New Zealand’s Maori broadcasting funding agency, is obliged by law to seek other expressions of interest.

Whitireia Head of Journalism Jim Tucker, however, says Whitireia is ‘quietly confident’ they will hold on to the contract.

“Because [Te Mangai Paho] is very pleased with the results, we are confident that they will roll it over, but there’s no guarantees.”

There are also plans to take the training further, by offering Level 4 and 5 training using the same model.

Ms Baker agrees that the iwi radio programme, with its unique method of implementation, is surpassing its established goals.

“The track record that we have is currently very strong, and we have proven ability of meeting the needs of these guys.

“The only alternative [to this programme] would be for them to send staff away to do block courses, which is generally expensive.”

For Tita Moon, an afternoon host at Ngati Hine FM in Whangarei, the training programme is a valuable opportunity to extend his knowledge.

“We come [to the Ngati Hine FM headquarters] and we pick up skills. Before, I wouldn’t have even known how to work a computer, let alone use all the programmes.”

In his time at the station, he has seen how iwi radio stations can aid language preservation – “that’s pretty much what we’re all about” – and provide wider benefits across the community.

“If people want to get something out there, we’re the first people they go to – not necessarily the mainstream radio stations, even though they’re bigger.”

Tapiata agrees that the benefits of the stations can be seen across the community.

“I think [the stations are] really important if we want to make sure that Maori communities are well informed, and can make good decisions affecting their own lives.”

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