Today we launch Nē?, a new podcast by Māori, for Māori. For me, it’s a dream that’s finally come true, writes co-host Leonie Hayden.
“Nē” is such a versatile, complex expression. It’s both a statement and a question, which variously means “really?”, “I agree”, “holy shit!” and “huh, I didn’t know that” depending on the tone. To me that sums up the conversations we’ll be having, and the curiosity that drives us.
I’m joined by two incredible co-pilots on this project: Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes (Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Rangitihi) is a multimedia content creator who films, edits, narrates, translates and writes. He was a journalist with Māori Television for five years, and his te reo videos and astute lens on social issues on Instagram have earned him a huge following. Te Kuru also joins us as writer, and will be publishing once a week on the many and varied aspects of te ao Māori that make it so rich, complex and beautiful.
And Meriana Johnsen (Kāi Tahu, Rangitāne), an award-winning journalist and broadcaster whose voice many of you will recognise from her incredible work at RNZ where she was a major component in helping to reframe te ao Māori news for the state broadcaster. She also joins us as the senior editor for the written content that makes up part of the Nē? project.
Both were at the top of my list of people I wanted to create this with – both because their work in media and as broadcasters is stellar, and because they bring a deep passion and aroha for our people to the kaupapa.
We are based in Tāmaki Makaurau, Tūranga and Whanganui-a-Tara respectively; we are all at different stages of our te reo Māori journey (the subject of our very first episode) and all have very different backgrounds. It’s this plurality of experience I’m hoping will appeal to our listeners. Chances are we won’t have all the answers to the big questions, but instead we hope other tangata whenua will understand that they’re not alone, and their pride, joy, hurt, frustration and curiosity is shared.
It won’t just be us three going on about it either. There will be guests coming through every episode – a chance to shine the spotlight on mātauranga Māori, mātanga Māori and mates that know how to spin a good yarn.
Years I ago I recorded a pilot for a podcast similar to this, because I knew it would be fun, funny and informative to get a group around a table every now and again and just… be Māori. And it was – but we struggled to find any funding, government, corporate or otherwise, to get it off the ground. I made the headline for the launch piece “our first episode could be our last” and I was, unfortunately, correct.
But we finally got there thanks to Public Interest Journalism funding through NZ On Air. It is in the public’s interest to listen to this podcast, because there’s no other like it.
That said, we wouldn’t be here without the inspiration provided by podcasts like Nuku, Taringa from Te Wānanga o Aotearoa, Ki Tua on Māori Television, Shilo Kino and Astley Nathan’s Back to Kura or Hēmi Kelly’s Everyday Māori. I mean, it’s a medium made just for us – yack yack yack.
So join us at the kāuta table, on the bus, on your daily walk or while you’re cleaning the house. Reckon it’s gonna be pretty fun, nē.
Produced by Te Aihe Butler (Ngāti Porou, Te Whānau-ā-Apanui)
Artwork by Xoë Hall (Kāi Tahu)
Music by Te Aihe Butler and Maaka Pohatu (Ngāi Tāmanuhiri, Ngāti Apa, Ngāti Tūwharetoa)