New Maori paper a mainstream first

Mangai 2

New Zealand’s first Maori paper to collaborate with mainstream media has been launched in partnership with the Rotorua Daily Post.

Two journalists, Kereama Wright and Maris Balle, have spearheaded the launch of Māngai Nui – literally “big mouth” but with a closer meaning to “great storyteller” – which has been three years in the making.

“We are really excited about the opportunity to give our whānau, hapū, and iwi [local Maori people] a voice within NZ’s largest mainstream media organisation,” co-editor Ms Balle said.

“It’s been a long time in the making so it’s nice to finally get to this point.”

The editors were motivated by their love for storytelling and pride in their Maori heritage, and a desire to give mainstream New Zealand an insight into the Te Arawa community through stories being told by passionate Te Arawa writers.

“For far too long have our stories been told and misconstrued by those who don’t really understand the true essence of Māori,” the paper’s mission statement reads.

The paper’s launch on Thursday was attended by a diverse range of iwi as well as the local MP and minister for Maori development, Te Ururoa Flavell.

NZME. general manager for Bay of Plenty & Waikato David Mackenzie said he was excited about the opportunity to provide Te Arawa with a voice within the Rotorua Daily Post. The first edition, on November 3, will be available inside the Post.

“We are delighted with the opportunity to work with Marisa and Kereama, two talented journalists who are well respected within local iwi and Maori media,” he said.

“We are looking forward to bringing our current and new readers a fresh and culturally sensitive perspective on Maori issues and successes that affect all New Zealanders locally and nationally.”

The relationship Ms Balle and Ms Wright have built with the NZME. team is unique, Ms Balle says.

“There’s no footprint or template to work from.

“It’s the first Maori newspaper within a mainstream newspaper – there’s been lots of Maori papers, but not like this.”

Support from the Maori community has been overwhelming, she added.

“There’s been a little bit of opposition to the relationship with a mainstream media outlet, but that’s minute compared to the support we’ve had.”

As with any media, some Maori feel they’re treated badly or reflected poorly in the mainstream media, she explained. “That’s not isolated to the Rotorua region, that’s nation-wide.

“We’re like, hang on – if we can help build that relationship, then why not do it?

“[NZME.] were very willing to support us and they also acknowledged that they need to build a better relationship with the local Maori people.

“We’ve really helped them understand how the dynamics of the iwi work.”

Māngai Nui will provide Te Arawa with an authentic Maori, and particularly the local Te Awara voice, to share stories of success and accomplishment within the whānau, the hapū and the iwi.

But it won’t just be a ‘good news’ slot, the editors say.

“We’ll tackle the big and the tough issues – but from a Māori point of view.

“We’ll ask the tough questions – regardless of who the news-maker might be. We’ll get to the crux of issues in terms of how Māori view them and not simply as the majority culture thinks an issue should be portrayed.”

The paper will cover everything from social wellbeing and economic development, to sporting and business stories, to profiles on local people and events.

Its first issue will feature local businessman Hemi Rolleston and the first of a six-part series on cleaning up local lakes, including Lake Rotorua, which are currently kept safe for swimming with chemical flushing.

It will begin as a monthly publication with plans to soon shift it to weekly.

The first edition of Māngai Nui will be in the Rotorua Daily Post on Monday, November 3.

For more news from The Newspaper Works, click here.

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