Trailblazers Te Upoko o te ika celebrate 30 years

By Online News - Rereātea

The first Māori language radio station Te Upoko o te ika in Wellington celebrates its 30-anniversary tomorrow. Te Upoko paved the way forward for 21 Māori language radio stations throughout the country.

Te Upoko o te ika manager Adrian Wagner spoke to the Kawe Kōrero about their plans to celebrate the milestone.

“We are taking it easy, we aren't doing anything too big to celebrate the 30 year milestone. We will have a concert next month in memory of Erana Hemmingsen she was one of the past broadcasters of Te Upoko. That's it. We will have other events throughout the year.”

Wagner says the idea to start Te Upoko o te ika stemmed from the need for more reo Māori content in broadcasting.

“Piripi Walker started the station with some of his mates. Piripi was working for TVNZ at the time. He thought, there's only five minutes of reo Māori each week on TVNZ so we needed to broadcast our language.”

Looking back on the radio stations 30 year, Wagner says he hopes the legacy will continue.

“For the radio station to carry on. That's what I want. I've been working here for a long time. I've worked here for 12 years and I also know the history of the station. I think back to the first year I arrived in Wellington and I heard Te Upoko o te ika were wanting Māori speakers so I went. This was in the '90s. Before Julian Wilcox and them came to this station, Branagan was a broadcaster and also Henare Kīngi, Tamati Kaiwai, Murray Raihania was another. These were the people who promoted our language in those times. During that time they wanted this initiative to promote the language for years to come. So for the next 20, 30 and even 50 years, that's what I want to happen.”