Bille Jo Hohepa-Ropiha grew up in the small town of Moerewa in Tai Tokerau. She attended Bay of Islands College where she became the Head Girl and represented her country in the New Zealand Under 18’s Basketball Team in 1995. She endeavoured to do well in both academia and sporting achievements, but dreamed of leaving school and joining a band. The only problem was - she neither had the musical talent nor the voice, so carried onto University completing a Bachelor of Screen and Media at Waikato University. Her burgeoning career in Broadcasting Journalism began in 2004 at TVNZ, from doing pick up Interviews to covering court stories and the memorable Foreshore and Seabed protest. “I remember being on the fourth floor of the TVNZ building along Lambton Quay and watching as our people marched defiantly against a legislation that transported our people back into the dark ages. Our faces, our voices, uniting on an issue that the Government just did not see was our Treaty right. We did not cede sovereignty and we did not give away our rights to the foreshore and seabed.” - Billie Jo is passionate about being a strong voice for Māori and Māori issues.
|What is your most vivid childhood memory of Waitangi Day celebration?
It was 1990. The foreshore at Te Tii Beach was awash with thousands of people, thousands more trailed up to the Treaty Grounds. Hundreds of waka moored in the Harbour and on the beach. And the waves…the waves were huge for what was normally a calm, sheltered beach. It was the most spectacular site I had ever seen and the most energized. I think I was quietly scared from the enormity of it all. My new Christmas present, a still camera, took some amazing pictures I still treasure today.
|What are you looking forward to the most in presenting the upcoming Waitangi show?
I am looking forward to two hours of jam-packed action, engaging interviews, intriguing kōrero, reggae and of course yummy kai from our two guest chefs.
|What Waitangi show’s talent are you most excited about meeting?
Hey I couldn’t choose, they will all be dynamic and engaging and I’m just excited about the whole show.