Story: Māori and television – whakaata


The first regular programme made by Māori about the Māori world, Koha (beginning in 1980) looked at everything from contemporary social problems to iwi history. It helped Māori city dwellers maintain links with their culture, while allowing Pākehā to see aspects of New Zealand life of which they were unaware.

The presenter of this 1981 excerpt, about kaumātua flats in the Urewera, was film-maker Merata Mita, whose work was to include Patu!, a documentary about the 1981 Springbok tour. Producer Ray Waru was one of the group that set up the Māori television production unit at Television New Zealand and launched Koha. In a 2013 interview Waru described the show as ‘beset by all sorts of ideological and management problems. The problems were should it be in Maori or should it be in English, was it a programme for Maori people or was it a programme for non-Maori people? There was a huge differential between native speakers and experienced broadcasters like Selwyn Muru and newbies like me and a lot of other people … There was this internecine tension all the time.’ He felt it was problematic that at the time the Māori community 'only had one mouthpiece'.

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How to cite this page:

Tainui Stephens, 'Māori and television – whakaata - Growing capacity: 1980s and 1990s', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 29 September 2023)

Story by Tainui Stephens, published 22 Oct 2014