Whenua 1996-11-17 (part one of two)

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Tono kōrero mai

Greetings / programme promo & rundown.

Music: Tahiwi Family - "Ko Ngāti Raukawa Matou"

We've just heard the talented Tahiwi family of Otaki with Kingi Tahiwi's "ko Ngāti Raukawa matou" and mentions that the family is travelling to Ahiterairia - Australia to record songs. Kingi Tahiwi was among early Māori broadcasters. He was a gifted, talented, musical, and popular air personality and he's an important part of our story.

And our story today concerns Māori who are and were part of present day Radio New Zealand and its predecessors, going back to the Radio Broadcasting Company of the 1920"s, known simply as the RBC. According to historian Michael King: "there's no evidence of Māori participation in the early phase of experimentation with sound transmission technologies. Not surprising as Māori and Pakeha then were strongly insulated from one another geographically, socially and culturally. Māori constituted a rural proletariat which was not granted the educational and material resources needed to take part in the new technical developments."

The RBC's first lengthy Māori programme was a relay of a concert from Otaki College featuring Māori entertainers performing mainly Māori items. Sixteen items were performed over a two-hour span. The programme was the direct forerunner of later pageants, and marked a turning point in the RBC's perception of Māori "entertainers". The announcement of the programme showed that Māori were no longer simply seen as able to provide the sort of musical entertainment that was radio's standard income earner at the time, but also that their form of "entertainment" was unique to New Zealand and could help to foster a sense of National consciousness. This is how the programme was announced:

"A programme such as no other part of the Empire could provide will be on the air on the evening of Thursday, December 1, 1927 broadcast by 2YA on relay from Otaki Māori College. New Zealand is justly proud of her Māori citizens and of their musical gifts. Vocal and instrumental items will be given by members of the Tahiwi family and by the college boys and schoolchildren. The opening scene will consist of a series of choral melodies descriptive of Māoris at home, and by way of an appropriate finale, there will be heard the thrilling strains of the haka. Be sure to tune in for this unique broadcast entertainment".

Music: "Song of the Locust" - Sung by Hēnare Tahiwi (part of Te Rauparaha"s haka and Te Tangi A te Tarakihi).

In 1928, the Radio Broadcasting Company broadcast the first Māori Radio Pageant with Waitangi Day as its theme. The performers were from Kaiwhaiki on the Whanganui River.

"Romantic Life of the Māori Race Unfolded in Radio Pageant" is how the "Radio Record" (predecessor of "The New Zealand Listener") described it.

According to the cover of the "Souvenir Number", the Waitangi pageant "gives us the Māori as they were, if not literally from Genesis to Revelation, then assuredly from their advent to these shores right up to this happy era of Māori-Pakeha brotherhood".

The RBC does not specify which Māori are being talked about in this pageant, and it implies that no cultural change occurred in the mentioned time span. The multitude of past tense sentence structures in the "Souvenir Number", demonstrates how Māori were identified, masculinized and fixed in some unidentified point in the past. Here are a few examples:

"The Māori was always given to song..."
"He had song for all occasions..."
"The Māori had no such thing as melody..."
"He had no drums..."
The same past-tense sentence structures are to be found in connection with Māori items in other issues as well. The following are from 18 July 1930:

"They had courage and strength."
"The Māori took pride in counting back the generations"
And "he had a prodigious memory".

The third pageant, held in 1930, was staged in association with the second Radio Exhibition. The Whanganui party was brought to Wellington's 2YA studios to provide "entertainment" that would attract people to attend the exhibition.

Music: Taanga Tomoana - "E te Iwi e" comp; Kingi Tahiwi

In 1927, Airini Nga Roimata Grenell, a grand daughter of Ngai Tahu's revered Teone Taare Tikao was first heard on air and was described as "a young Māori singer with a most beautiful voice". She came from Wharekauri or the Chatham Islands. Ten years later, Airini was approached by the first Head of Commercial Broadcasting, Gordon Scrimengour, to join the service. At that time, Airini was a member of the famous Waiata Māori Choir led by Methodist minister, Father Arthur J. Seamer. The choir was about to leave for a tour of Australia and then on to Europe.

Tape: The late Airini Grenell speaking from Christchurch.

Scrimengour's personal sympathies with Māori were coupled with his affiliation with Michael Joseph Savage, and Savage's awareness of Tahupotiki Ratana's recognition of the power of broadcasting. The commercial "B" stations were for the man in the street backed by Labour and by implication, Ratana, while the YA's were supported by the Conservatives who worked in association with men like Apirana Ngata and Frederick Augustus Bennett.

Oliver (or Oriwa) Tahupotiki Haddon, who was linked through his father to Taranaki Chief Titokowaru and also to Tahupotiki Ratana, was employed by Wellington's 2ZB. Haddon took recording gear to marae to find Māori singers who had not become Europeanised, and Māori music which had not been spoiled by the same influence - according to Radio Record. Haddon is reputed to have built up a fine collection of Māori music which was used by Scrimengour, but the fate of the recordings is not known. Wiremu Parker, about whom you'll hear more later, credits Haddon with coining the phrase, "te reo irirangi" - the voice of the airwaves - a term which is still part of our corporate logo.

Music: Witerina Harris - "Akoako o te Rangi" (Whispers of Heaven)

Te Ari Pitama joined in Christchurch, and Lou Uramo Paul in Auckland. Like Kingi Tahiwi, Lou Paul had a background in music. Shows he fronted included "Lou Paul and the 1ZB Choir", "Lou Paul's Hawaiian Session" and fortnightly fifteen minute Māori news sessions which were probably in English. In a late 1939 edition of "Radio Record" is a photograph of him with the caption "the golden voiced tenor Lou Paul is popular as a 1ZB announcer."

Lou Paul of Ngāti Whatua became a commissioned officer in the 28th Māori Battalion, and died in Italy in 1943.

Music: Lou Paul - "Neath the Māori Moon"

In Christchurch, Te Ari Pitama had been heard sporadically since 1931. His first fifteen-minute talk was called "The South Island Māori" which a local paper described as "one of the comparatively few Islands of interest in a sea of dullness."

In a 1932 talk on "The future of the Māori Race", Pitama argues, "Māori should be given the same rights and privileges as his white brethren if he is to qualify himself as a useful member of society". Yet in the same talk he says,"the Māori was never destined by Divine Providence to assist the British Empire to hold her own in view of the severe competition for supremacy". Pitama was eventually to leave broadcasting in acrimonious circumstances.

In Dunedin, there was Pani Parata Te Tau, the first licensed Māori interpreter in the South Island. In addition, in Wellington, Kingi Tahiwi of Ngāti Raukawa. First mention of Kingi Tahiwi in the Radio Record is to be found on 18 November 1927 when he was listed as one of the soloists for the concert relayed from Otaki Māori College. The Tahiwi family was renowned for its musical abilities and some of their members formed a group simply called "The Tahiwis". Kingi Tahiwi is said to have been a man of considerable charm and charisma, and a most popular air personality. He was one of the "personality-plus" boys. He co-hosted daily wake-up sessions, daily readings of serial stories, and conducted special sessions.
Witerina Harris of the Mitchell family of Te Arawa worked in Parliament when Tahiwi was at 2ZB.

Tape: Witerina Harris
Music: Witerina Harris -"E Hine" comp; Kingi Tahiwi.

In 1942, while on war service in England, he hosted the BBC's "Calling New Zealand" programme.

Tape: Kingi Tahiwi broadcasting with the BBC

In December 1942, Kingi Tahiwi was reported missing while on flying duty in North Africa.

Māori-content programmes broadcast by the RBC towards the late 1920s included lectures by a Reverend A. B. Chappell.
Chappell's 15 minute talks were titled:
"Old New Zealand - The days before discovery..."
"The Māori - His place in the Human Family..."
"Talks on the Māori - His language..."
"His legendary Lore..."
"His fortifications..."
"His noble customs..."
"His Religion..."
"His clothing..."
"His music..."
"His food..."
From these titles, one assumes all Māori were male, ate the same food, clothed the same, had the same type of music, and had one type of religion. There was no room for difference - regional, tribal, age or gender.

The first Bishop of Aotearoa, Frederick Augustus Bennett, broadcast a twenty-minute talk in June 1929. The Radio Record's review of the talk says "the smoothly flowing native words, perfectly enunciated, came over the air with crystal clarity and did not justify his humorous apology to his white listeners: I hope no one is cursing old-man static for what some of you have not understood. I have been greeting my Māori people, he said".
Another Māori lecture was broadcast in 1931 by Ted Nepia whose radio series "Te Reo O Te Māori" would go to air over 20 years later.

During the mid-1930s, Superintendent of Native Education W. W. Bird gave a series of half-hour talks about Māori. Here's a brief extract from one of his talks about waiata Māori.

Tape: W.W. Bird

A major hui recorded in 1938 was the opening of Turongo, the annex to the wharenui, Mahinaarangi on the Turangawaewae marae. During the ceremonies, Princess Te Puea Herangi was invested by the Governor General Lord Galway with the Order, Commander of the British Empire.

Tape: Lord Galway

Princess Te Puea's Māori culture entertainment group, Te Pou O Mangatawhiri (or TPM), had been instrumental in the fund-raising for both Mahinaarangi and Turongo. The mandolin player was Te Puea's husband, Tumokai Katipa.

Tape: Music

Sir Apirana Ngata who'd supported Te Puea in her efforts to establish Turangawaewae and build Mahinaarangi was at the ceremonies.

Tape: Sir Apirana Ngata.

In addition, Sir Apirana will feature later in this story of Māori broadcasting.
Tape: From the opening ceremony.

Favourite item:

Request information

Year 1996

Reference number 52350

Media type AUDIO

Collection Sound Collection

Genre Māori radio programs
Ethnic radio programs
Radio programs
Sound recordings

Credits RNZ Collection
te Ua, Henare, 1933-2007, Presenter
Walters, Muru, Speaker/Kaikōrero
Grennell, Airini, 1910-1988, Singer
Harris, Witarina, 1906-2007, Performer
Tahiwi, Kingi te Ahoaho, 1883-1948, Performer
Bird, W. W., Speaker/Kaikōrero
Galway, George Vere Monckton-Arundell (b.1882, d.1943), Speaker/Kaikōrero
Ngata, Apirana Turupa (b.1874, d.1950), Speaker/Kaikōrero
Panapa, Wiremu Netana, 1898-1970, Speaker/Kaikōrero

Duration 00:54:20

Date 17 Nov 1996

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