24 AUGUST 2017, 10AM, 433 East Tāmaki

Tēnā tātou katoa.

E tautoko ana ahau i ngā mihi kua mihia. E mihi ana ki a koe e Te Minita, te kanohi o te Karauna, te hoa hautū i tēnei taonga, i Whakaata Māori. E mihi ana ki te Kīngitanga, tēnā rawa atu koutou. Rau rangatira mā, ngā iwi katoa kua tae mai ki tēnei huihuinga whakahirahira – nau mai whakatau mai. It is a great honour to have you all here today on this auspicious occasion. Whakaata Māori was launched 13 years ago on March the 28th in Newmarket.  It marked the first phase of our development as the indigenous television broadcaster of Aotearoa.

For those of us privileged to witness it, the day was historic and truly memorable. The establishment in Newmarket was seen as a bold move - an upmarket part of Auckland - but it made a clear statement about the place of Maori language in Aotearoa.  That location produced new and distinctly Māori programmes and experiences that will long be remembered by staff and viewers alike. We had finally achieved a television broadcast platform from which to share our history, our stories, our lives - from a Māori perspective -  through both English and Māori.

This unique undertaking of a television channel established and dedicated for the purpose of revitalising te reo me ngā tikanga Māori, has a long and proud story of dogged persistence and activism by our people through our political and judicial systems - and of inspired leadership on the part of many over the years to gain proper recognition for our language.

That back story culminated in the raising of Māori Television in the building at Newmarket in 2004, with the opening by elder statesman Dr Huirangi Waikerepuru and then Prime Minister Rt Hon Helen Clark, with Ngāti Whātua and Tainui in support and Te Arikinui Dame Te Ātairangikahu gracing the occasion with her presence. With celebrations that went all day from early morning to early evening.

As we have grown and developed it became clear that we needed the space and flexibility to encompass new platforms and technologies, in order to fulfil our purpose in a fast changing digital environment. A new chapter is about to be written here in this beautiful new building located in East Tāmaki. There are more challenges to meet, more stories to tell, more pictures to portray, more news stories to break, and over the coming years this site has the capacity to develop as a major centre for te reo Māori, with the ongoing support and participation of our South Auckland whānau, those of the greater Tāmaki region and te motu whānui.

Whakaata Māori has secured a place in the industry as a broadcaster of events of significance to all New Zealanders – such as Te Matatini, ANZAC Day and Waitangi Day and is recognised for providing engaging content online drawing in younger audiences as mobile devices take over traditional television viewership.

Working to portray te ao Māori in all its many facets, keeping up with it on a daily basis to deliver informative and entertaining programming is challenging! But ultimately, a great privilege. For this we pay tribute to and acknowledge all personnel over the years, from those who have guided the direction of the organisation to those at the coal face - our programme-makers, our technical crew, our journalists, and managers - all who have helped grow Whakaata Māori into the unique media organisation that it is today. They have been our team, but also your team, the whānau of Whakaata Māori who have crewed the marae of Māori Television, the front and the back, seven days a week, to bring our world to the screens of Aotearoa. To all our staff who have made the move here to our new home, we await with anticipation more of the tried and true, but also something of the new, and innovative programming that we might deliver in conjunction with our iwi communities, and others also involved in the kaupapa of revitalising te reo.

It is good to remind ourselves that this taonga represents the broadcasting and media interests of all Māori – you are all shareholders and stakeholders along with our fellow New Zealanders. Whakaata Māori looks forward to your continued support – your contributions through your voices, your time, your stories, yourselves as visitors, both in person and as web-site visitors, and as champion publicists for our programmes and successes. Today you honour us with your presence in affirming the importance of the kaupapa upon which Whakaata Maori is created.

Today, Māori Television also celebrates the launch of its High Definition Transmission as part of its multi-platform strategy which has been funded by a Budget 2016 allocation of $10.6m. The upgrade will give our viewers a crisper and sharper picture on par with other major New Zealand broadcasters.

This has been an important stepping stone in the progression of our multi-platform strategy. We will continue to invest in a range of digital offerings and platforms alongside our traditional linear platform. This ensures that Māori Television is delivering to the needs of all New Zealanders, whenever they want, wherever they are, and by whatever connected device they choose to use.

Finally I would like to acknowledge in particular the ongoing commitment of all political parties to this important kaupapa and the recent passing into law of Te Ture mō te reo Māori 2016 - the Maori Language Act 2016, by the NZ Parliament - thereby affirming the paramount place of te reo Māori as a taonga in the life of Māori and Aotearoa, and the Crown's statutory obligation to protect and promote te reo me ngā tikanga Māori under the Treaty of Waitangi.

Mā rātou, mā mātou, mā koutou, mā tātou (For them, for us, for you, for everyone.)

It is now my pleasure to call on the Hon Te Ururoa Flavell, Minister for Māori Development, to share his whakaaro with us on this important occasion and do the honours for our new premises. In doing so we salute him for his strong leadership for our reo, following on in the footsteps of the late Hon Parekura Horomia, and more recently Hon Sir Pita Sharples and supported strongly by the Ministers of Finance on both sides of the House. E te Minita – tēnā koe.