Te reo o ngā haukāinga o Te Hiku o Te Ika is the carrier of whakapapa, histories and cultural capital of the five iwi of the Far North – their entire cultural memory. As the medium for cultural transmission, native language decline heralds cultural decline.
With a vibrant yet rapidly dwindling native speaker population, Radio Te Hiku is serious about doing something to stem this overwhelming language and cultural loss.
Since 2012 the Board of Te Reo Irirangi o Te Hiku o Te Ika have taken stock of three key facts that impact significantly on local language decline:
What announcers, kaupapa kaimahi, the kaiwhakahaere and the Board know is that Radio Te Hiku is a central point from which whānau, hapū and iwi can readily receive and listen to broadcasts of te reo o ngā haukāinga o Te Hiku o Te Ika.
Te Hiku have renewed their over-arching strategy, dedicating all resources to broadcasting as much as possible, the native Māori language of the Far North. The strategy is entirely dependent on the kaumātua of Te Aupōuri, Ngāti Kurī, Te Rārawa, Ngāi Takoto and Ngāti Kahu, and places emphasis on archiving and maximum air-time of te reo o ngā haukāinga o Te Hiku o Te Ika. Several hui have been convened by kaumātua from all over Muriwhenua during the last 24 months, and it is this group who continue to inform and guide the efforts of Te Hiku.
Board Chair Rahuia Kapa says “It’s critical we make the most of the remaining time we have with our native speakers. If we fail to do something now, when they’re gone our knowledge will be gone too, and there’s no way of getting it back. Time is against us, but our emphasis currently is to record and film as much as possible, then broadcast it far and wide, day and night. In the internet we have an amazing opportunity to channel the language to our people living away from home, in the cities, both here and overseas. ”
Te Hiku’s work programme in the immediate future includes recording and filming kaumātua from all over Muriwhenua speaking, teaching and remembering, especially in areas of specialised local knowledge or expertise.
Kaiwhakahaere Peter-Lucas Jones says “An example of this focused work programme is the recording of kōrero tuku iho about the departure of the Kuaka and it’s return to Alaska in March this year, and then the return of the kuaka to Aotearoa in early spring.”
Te Hiku, together with a film crew, camped at Kokotā Sandspit, Pārengarenga Harbour, to film kaumātua talking about the Kuaka, and capture footage of the bird as it left to go back to its nesting lands in Alaska.
Radio Te Hiku efforts were recognised and rewarded at this year’s Iwi Radio Awards 2014, winning Best Kaumātua Show in te reo Maori, Best E Tū Whānau Campaign and Best Current Affairs Radio Host in te reo Māori.