Te Upoko o Te Ika — Māori radio collection

E ngā iwi o te motu, o te ao, tēnā koutou katoa, me ō tātou aitua. To all people of the country, and the world, we greet you, and acknowledge those who have gone before.

Read this page in te reo Māori

Te Reo Irirangi o Te Upoko o Te Ika sound recordings collection is an archive of radio programmes mostly broadcast between 1983 and 1994.

Use the search box at the top of this page to find and listen to the recordings available online.

What is Te Reo Irirangi o Te Upoko o Te Ika?

The Wellington-based Māori radio station broadcasts a variety of talk and music programmes and, throughout its history, has covered most of the Māori community events in the region.

Staff at Te Upoko o Te Ika radio station celebrating its third birthday.
Photograph of third birthday of Te Upoko o Te Ika radio station, April 17 1991. Ref: PAColl-8124. People in photo, left to right: Mike Wills, Donald (Donny) Kingi, Henare Kingi, Piripi Walker, Erana Hemmingsen (obscured), Mere Grant (standing), Lucy Te Moana (kneeling), Hirini Melbourne (visiting for birthday), Philip (Pip) Saffery, Henare Hetaraka (standing) Piripi Whaanga (kneeling) Murray Raihania, Kevin Hodges, Aunty Iris Te Ari Whaanga (sitting), Mahia Fuimaono (kneeling), Huirangi Waikerepuru.

Listen to Te Reo Irirangi o Te Upoko o Te Ika online or on 1161AM.

What’s in this collection?

In 2015, the Te Reo Irirangi o Te Upoko o Te Ika Trust and the Alexander Turnbull Library started working to make this archive of conversational and formal Māori language recordings available to the public.

A significant number of the Trust's archive of 2000 programmes have been digitised and remastered, and the work is ongoing. All of the digitised programmes are available for listening in the Katherine Mansfield Reading Room at the Alexander Turnbull Library.

The Trust has also made a smaller set of recordings available online to gather feedback from whānau and the wider audience.

This collection spans genres, from serious current affairs to light, local entertainment. The station has always used local broadcasters, most of whom are native speakers of the Māori language, and given training in interviewing, journalism and production.

The daily flow of guests through the station has provided many interviews. A notable feature is the number of kaumātua, kuia and prominent people talking about politics, national affairs, the language and culture, women’s issues and Treaty matters.

Browse the entire collection of recordings, or use the search box on this page to find recordings available online.

See the collection record in Tiaki — the Alexander Turnbull Library catalogue for unpublished collections.

Improving the collection

The Trust tried to identify and consult with speakers and their whānau on the first online set of recordings before the set was released.

Email the Trust piripi@reo.co.nz if your whānau has not been approached.

The Trust operates within tikanga Māori and will listen to the wishes of all speakers and their whānau.

Send us your feedback on these first programmes so we can assess whether the collection streaming meets your needs and make improvements as required.

Email linda.evans@dia.govt.nz with your feedback.

History of the radio station

The station was established by Ngā Kaiwhakapūmau i Te Reo (the Wellington Māori Language Board) after a number of pilots during the 1980s.

The first FM pilot was in July 1983, under the name Te Reo o Pōneke (the voice of Wellington) out of the Radio Active studios at Victoria University. The station finally went live permanently in 1988 and remains on air today.

The station has broadcast from several central city locations. The early studios were in the Greenwich Building on the corner of Wakefield Street and Cuba Street. For the next 6 years, the station’s home was upstairs in the Stewart Dawson Building on the corner of Willis Street and Lambton Quay. The studios in that building were built by the station team using car cases from the Mitsubishi car factory in Porirua.

Piripi Walker (right) and Tama Te Huki in the studio of Te Upoko O Te Ika Maori Language Radio Station
Te Upoko o Te Ika, Maori language radio station, Wellington (1987). Ref: EP/1987/2071/8-F.

Programme format

Programme making and ideas were encouraged and tapes were played from other archives. Light entertainment panel shows, with multiple announcers in the studio, were popular as was the breakfast panel show.

The station broadcast in te reo Māori only for the breakfast show, including the Kōhanga Reo show every morning. From 9am to midday, it broadcast a bilingual mix of 50/50 Māori and English, then had a free regime, with a target of 60% Māori each day.

Management of the station

The station had no funding from Government sources for the first year of its operation, relying on community contributions. After the first year, it got core support from a Māori Access training scheme until NZ on Air (The Broadcasting Commission) decided to fund iwi stations in 1990.

Radio New Zealand was also supportive of  Te Reo Irirangi o Te Upoko o Te Ika and provided the station with considerable resources and technical help.

In 1991, management and stakeholding of the station were handed over to a Charitable Trust, Te Reo Irirangi o Te Upoko o Te Ika Trust. This trust is made up of representatives of both tangata whenua iwi and taura here (resident iwi from other areas outside the southern North Island).

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