Māori Language Week began officially in 1975 and radio was involved right from the start in promoting the week and the use of te reo Māori. In the radio collection of Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision we have programmes broadcast during those first years, in both English and te reo. They feature interviews with many of the promoters of the week, such as the members of the Te Reo Māori Society – who were instrumental in getting the language officially recognised and were behind the drive to get more Māori heard on our airwaves and TV screens.
Here you can listen to interviews in te reo from 1975, with Rawiri Rangitauira (Ngāti Whakaue) and Hakopa Te Whata (Ngāpuhi) or listen to interviews from 1976, with Whaimutu Dewes (Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Rangitihi ) and Tamati Kruger (Ngāi Tūhoe).
In 1975, there were no kura kaupapa Māori and the ground-breaking kōhanga reo movement had not yet started. So Windy Ridge Primary School on Auckland’s North shore was unusual in that it was teaching students te reo, which had been introduced to the curriculum in 1974. RNZ’s Māori programmes producer Haare Williams went to the school and recorded programmes for that first Māori Language Week in 1975:
“Māori Programmes” / “Te Puna Wai Kōrero,” September 1975
By 1978 there was growing concern that there were not enough teachers being trained to teach te reo and meet the demand from schools. Here you can listen to a radio programme in English featuring an interview with John Rangihau (Ngāi Tūhoe), about the training of Māori language teachers and the place of te reo in New Zealand society.
Listening to archived radio news coverage, we can see that progress promoting use of te reo met with some resistance in Pākehā New Zealand through the 1980s. Here is coverage from “Morning Report” in 1984, about the official outcry when a Post Office Tolls operator Naida Povey of Ngāti Whātua (now Dame Naida Glavish, President of the Māori Party from 2013 – 2016) started greeting callers with “Kia ora”:
“Morning Report,” 23 May 1984
Today, Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision archives a multitude of programmes in te reo Māori every day, broadcast by iwi radio stations around the country, as well as television productions from Māori Television. From our historic radio collection this item from 1964 still remains a perennial favourite with both Māori and Pākehā. It is a radio advertisement from 1964 for the soap powder “Rinso.” It was produced for an episode of the radio quiz show “It’s in the Bag” hosted by Selwyn Toogood. This episode was broadcast from Northland, where there would still have been a large te reo Māori-speaking population in 1964:
Radio commercial for Rinso performed in Māori, 1964
March on Parliament in support of the Maori Language. Further negatives of the Evening Post newspaper. Ref: EP/1980/2470/20A-F. Alexander Turnbull Library.