Māori TV sports journalists excel at annual awards event

By Online News - Rereātea
  • Auckland

Former Te Kāea sports journalist Raniera Harrison and Native Affairs reporter Wepiha Te Kawana claimed top awards at the 2016 Sport New Zealand Sir Terry McLean National Sports Journalism Awards dinner in Auckland.

Raniera, who received the DJ Cameron Young Journalist Award, was acknowledged for the exclusive story he produced on ex All Black Andrew Mehrtens. 

Mehrtens was made an ambassador for this year's Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori and made it a priority to pronounce names of Māori sportspeople correctly. He claimed New Zealand needs to do more to normalise Te Reo Māori.

While watching a match between the Hurricanes and Jaguares earlier on in the year, Raniera was taken aback by Mehrten's pronunciation of Otere Black's name. This prompted him to make direct contact with Mehrtens, resulting in his exclusive report.    

"Being honoured with this award is truly a humbling experience. The calibre of nominees was exceptional, so to be called out as the overall winner was somewhat sublime really," Raniera says.

In 2015 he produced another exclusive story on All Black Nehe Milner-Skudder's number one fan, 10-year-old Kuratiwaka Ngārimu, who wished him luck ahead of the Rugby World Cup final. The video went viral on social media. 

Raniera managed to get Milner-Skudder to respond to the message, leaving Ngārimu ecstatic. Upon the All Black's return to the country, Raniera also gained exclusive access to the team's hotel where Milner-Skudder gifted the young boy the boots he wore during the Rugby World Cup.

Both stories remain some of Te Kāea's highest rated online stories. 

Raniera says his success would not have been possible without the "pantheon of Māori sports journalists such as Hemana Waaka who have paved the way for young reporters like myself. This is the fruit of their mahi."

Joining the Māori TV news and current affairs show Native Affairs just this year, journalist Wepiha Te Kanawa received the Sir John Wells Sports Journalist Scholarship and award.

He has covered an array of exceptional stories, including that of 19-year-old motor racing driver Faine Maniapoto-Kahia, who says he wants to be the first Māori to win Bathurst. 

Wepiha's articulate narrating took the audience on a journey, exploring Maniapoto-Kahia's road to success - From the very first time his foot hit the accelerator, to the aspirations and dreams he shares to becoming the world's best.

Another story that contributed to Wepiha's success was his profile piece on former professional boxer Daniella Smith and her desire to help rangatahi combat the effects of cyber-bulling through boxing. 

Wepiha's story followed a group of rangatahi boxers who are not only combating their own personal demons, but who are also taking on the cyber bullies.

The story captivated audiences both on screen and online.  

In September Native Affairs was granted exclusive behind the scenes access to the NRL’s State of Mind program, as high profile league stars and those from the grass roots grapple with depression and even suicide.

The story focused on 24-year-old Jesse Maio, the Auckland sportsman who has overcome depression. Off the field, Jesse was tackling inner demons. He was suffering from depression and was suicidal.

Although it was a sensitive topic, Wepiha's gentle approach meant his interviewees were able to share their stories confidently. 

"I'm both humbled and honoured to receive this award and to be able to share these incredible Māori stories to the world. I hope that this will inspire more Māori journalists to succeed," Wepiha says.

Both Raniera and Wepiha are the first ever journalists from Māori Television to receive awards at the annual awards night.