Today we visited Radio Waatea and the Auckland War Memorial Museum. Radio Waatea is a radio station that broadcasts nearly only in Māori. The station is unique in the fact that it is situated within the Marae itself. Moreover, the Auckland War Memorial Museum has many exhibits, including one that displays Māori art, weaponry, canoes and a beautiful, historic Marae. There is also a culture rich exhibit, which displays and dissects the Treaty of Waitangi. It was incredible to see the immense efforts taken to preserve Māori culture.
We were invited into the Marae, where the radio station does their broadcasting. Broadcasting in Māori is culturally significant as it prevents the language from dying and makes Māori the mainstream. This is especially true with technology can disseminate information and reach a wider audience. While talking about preserving languages, one of the broadcasters said that “the language breathes if the environment allows for it”. I thought this was extremely insightful, because to encourage more Māori to speak their native language, there needs resources and spaces that make it possible. The radio station is doing exactly that.
Following the radio station, we visited one of the classrooms. It was vibrant and full of artwork that the students had done. The students sang songs in Māori, which is another great example of creating an environment that allows for the language to breathe.
For me, the visit to the radio station stood out the most. As stated previously, it is an urban Māori radio station located on the Marae. Even more however, the Marae works to help support their local community; there is a food bank, social workers on site, an elementary (primary) school, and a support system for people who are struggling. In targeting some social issues, the Marae provides the community with positive influences.
Again, the Marae had me in awe. I was completely amazed to see that they had such a strong support system to sustain their people, their language and culture. Throughout time, Maori have been told how they can and cannot govern their people, resources, and land. Each opportunity for sovereignty has been met with limitation. However, in creating a space where Maori people can raise their kids, sustain their families, and live together as an Indigenous community, the people of the Waatea Marae have created a means for their own sovereignty and self-reliance.