Committing to more te reo Māori on waves

It’s been a long journey for the Sea92 radio station to transition from a community radio station – going for eight years – into a fully-fledged regional iwi radio station that will transmit airwaves across the Bay of Plenty region.

Published: Thursday, 7 May 2015 | Rāpare, 07 Haratua, 2015

Firstly a social health provider within the district - the Whakaatu Whanaunga Trust –first investigated into becoming iwi radio station in Ōpōtiki five years ago, but with government funding already committed the plans were put on the back burner.

The Trust, established in 1990 and representing the three local iwi, Ngāi Tai, Te Whakatōhea and Te Whānau-ā-Apanui had been running a community radio station that broadcast on a low powered frequency for eight years, but relished the chance to broadcast to a wider audience.

This is a feat made possible through the dedication and persistence of others, says chief executive Steven Walker.


“A number of people have helped us to get to this point – every person has been integral to the process but without them we would not have been able to get here.  Obviously Te Puni Kōkiri, but also Bay of Plenty polytechnic in Tauranga, Sun FM in Whakatāne, and Tauranga based station Moana FM,” said Walker.

Following representation to Te Puni Kōkiri, the Trust has been recognised as the appropriate iwi organisation to be the licence holder of a higher powered frequency reserved for the promotion of Māori language and culture.

A key focus of the iwi station will be to ensure that te reo Māori is accessible for all New Zealanders.

“Our goal will be to raise awareness of te reo Māori and tikanga to our audience and our community, and to promote its use in everyday situations and environments,

We believe that te reo Māori is a birth right of all New Zealanders and that both Māori and non-Māori should have access to it, we want to promote it as a user-friendly language that enriches all individuals, families and the community within our region,” he says.

As part of the Crowns commitment to the Treaty of Waitangi, radio frequency spectrum was set aside in the early nineties for the promotion of Māori language and culture.

Te Puni Kōkiri works with iwi to allocate Māori reserved frequencies to iwi organisations within their own rohe. In some cases, several iwi are joint licence holders where the broadcast coverage overlaps more than one rohe.

The Cultural Wealth team of our Policy Partnerships Te Puni has largely been responsible for this work since 2000.

Senior Analyst Robbie Galvin and Analyst Aaron Munro, manage this relationship with the Iwi Radio Network and related government agencies and industry organisations.

Aaron and Robbie work closely with the radio stations and the iwi licence holders, and are currently undertaking a series of further visits to discuss general broadcasting matters to ensure that the stations’ broadcast coverage is adequate.

Robbie has over 30 years’ experience in Radio Spectrum Management and Aaron 12 years’ experience working with different iwi radio stations across the nation.

Currently 21 iwi radio stations receive operational funding from Te Māngai Pāho.  Six stations provide their own funding. Te Whakaruruhau o Ngā Reo Irirangi Māori is the representative body of the 21 government funded iwi radio stations.

The next time you happen to be in the Ōpōtiki region tune into Sea92 – make it your radio station of choice and listen to more te reo Māori on radio airwaves.