14 March 2023
Sometimes journalism is about more than just telling a story.
After Raurukitahi (Rauru) Mane-Wheoki filed a story on a teenage Māori soccer team, he received a message back from the team’s coach – telling him what a positive impact his piece had had on the teens.
“That was one of the best things I have experienced so far,” says Rauru. “The teenagers loved that I was taking an interest. And that is what I think people my age want to see as well in the news – more positive, community stories. And seeing themselves reflected in those stories.”
That story was just one of many that Rauru has produced as a cadet with Te Ia Ka Oho, a full-time, seven-month course in te reo Māori journalism that is based in Taranaki and funded by NZ On Air’s Public Interest Journalism Fund (PIJF).
Rauru is one of four Te Ia Ka Oho cadets who are training as they produce articles and video news items for Te Korimako o Taranaki, a Taranaki-based radio broadcaster, and Whakaata Māori.
The programme is headed by leading Māori journalist Roihana Nuri and was designed to offer cadets the opportunity to develop and build fundamental journalism skills in te reo Māori.
“Since all of our te reo Māori newsrooms are currently underfunded, there was an urgent need to train and develop journalists in te reo Māori journalism, with a focus on building skills and competencies,” says Nuri.
“Firstly, our approach is kanohi ki te kanohi; secondly, the programme is in te reo Māori; and thirdly, our cadets are given crucial media industry experience both as a whanau and as individuals. It’s a strategy that will guarantee our cadets are successful in producing stories that are for Māori, about Māori and in te reo Māori – stories that may not otherwise be published.”
And, Nuri says, the cadets also enjoyed a month-long period working in the Whakaata Māori newsroom in Auckland over summer.
“They have all published articles, both linear and digital, from underrepresented communities. And from the Whakaata Māori experience, we saw at least a 25% increase in participation and engagement with the stories we contributed to on the Whakaata Māori website compared to the previous summer period.”
The four cadets came from a range of different backgrounds and with varying levels of experience, each having a whakapapa link to Taranaki.
“As Te Korimako o Taranaki strives to become the western Māori news hub,” says Nuri, “we knew it needed to be a priority to emphasise a succession plan for the region and ensure all our cadets had that connection or whakapapa with Taranaki.”
At the same time, the cadets would learn practical skills, necessary news media experience and gain a clear understanding of news processes that would also help them build their careers.
Rauru and the other three cadets have produced approximately 33 online articles and produced seven broadcast stories since the Te Ia Ka Oho cadetship programme began. Next they will turn to producing three radio news bulletins in te reo Māori for Radio Waatea, before finishing their cadetship at the end of June.
Nuri is incredibly proud of each cadet. “This is one of the most fascinating journalism cohorts I have seen founded in te ao Māori ideals. Each cadet has the potential to succeed in the industry – they all have a level of perseverance, tenacity and desire.”
“Their hunger to learn reminds me of why I first chose journalism.”
It is hoped that in future this cadetship programme may also be used towards credits for the National Diploma in Journalism at the Western Institute of Technology (WITT) with a particular focus on te reo Māori multimedia.
“That would be an amazing thing,” says Rauru. “To have the work we are doing also recognised with an educational qualification. But for me, right now, it’s having moments like that with the teenage Māori soccer team, and the other stories I have been able to cover in my community, where we get to tell the stories that aren’t often told – that is what I am really loving.”