Pacific Media Network reaches milestone

posted: 12:00 pm - 19th January 2019
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(Picture caption: Pacific Media Network (PMN) owned and operated by the National Pacific Radio Trust celebrated the launch of the nationwide broadcasting PMN 531, formerly Radio 531pi on January 14. CREDIT PMN.)

Reaching more of the growing Pacific diaspora in Aotearoa is behind a name change of a popular radio station in Auckland. 

Pacific Media Network’s (PMN) 531pi is now called PMN 531, and will be broadcast nationwide following a launch last week. 

Chairman of the National Pacific Radio Trust (the governing body for PMN) Tiumalu Peter Fa'afiu (pictured below) says the launch of PMN 531 and upcoming changes at PMN are part of PMN’s strategy to get a greater reach and depth into Pacific communities across New Zealand. 

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“It’s about time the 531 part of the business expanded out to the national networks,” Tiumalu says. 

“We needed to get access to our Pacific peoples, particularly out in the regions, which are growing.” 

In August 2017, Tiumalu was appointed Chair by the Government and while he had some experience with media organisations, he had no previous involvement with PMN or its programmes. 

During his time as Chair, PMN has undergone tremendous change. 

“We have a new Board of six members, who are diverse in skills but the right mix needed at this time along with a fairly new Chief Executive Officer in Patrick Lino.” 

An independent review was commissioned by the Board and its funder, NZ On Air, a first for PMN, he adds.  

“The insights gave the Board some direction in terms of a future strategy, and since January 1 last year this has been implemented by the organisation.  

“Some of the implementation has been successful such as a new Pacific Content Strategy and Action Plan; a review of some of the programmes; re-establishing some partnerships and contracts; and the recent re-launch of PMN 531 on the national network.” 

There has however, been slow movement across a number of areas which the Board has asked management to focus on this year, he says. 

Market-place changes have also occurred over the past 18 months, including a steep decline in radio advertising; a new government focused on languages and culture; consolidation of the media/radio/communications environment; digital organisations now becoming media/communications entities; and a culture shift at PMN to focus its efforts on these changes. 

One of the first things the new Board noticed was the amount of brands PMN had – it was one organisation but had 12 brands – confusing its audiences, communities and partners, Tiumalu explains. 

“When the Board developed the Pacific Content Strategy, one of the key things picked up by our Board Content Sub-committee was the multiple brand issue. 

“The launch of 531 on the national network and a new PMN brand allowed us to change the names of the programmes to sit under an ‘umbrella’ brand which is PMN.”   

Tiumalu says the Board is aware a name change is nothing without significant substantial organisational changes. 

“These things are occurring - in the short term, the name change suited the milestone for 531 going up on the national network and reaching more New Zealanders, particularly Pacific peoples. 

“At the same time, we need to remind our communities PMN is the multi-media organisation of which 531 is a part of.” 

Along with ensuring Pacific content is made accessible to all of New Zealand, PMN is focused on the sustainability of Pacific language, identity and culture which is the public service element of the organisation and what sets it apart from other media outlets. 

“There is also a strong element of ensuring connectivity given the links of the 300,000 Pacific diaspora here in NZ back to their homelands,” Tiumalu says.   

“Connectivity is the key to a renaissance of a language, music or culture.  

“I remain proud of the emails and texts I get from people who are listening into our language programmes from Hawaii, Australia, and the United States.” 

As a member of the Fourth Estate, Tiumalu says it is PMN’s role to be the eyes and ears of Pacific peoples and in some respects their conscience at times.  

“We will do that by executing with excellence and if we make mistakes, learning from them.” 

Media in New Zealand is undergoing significant changes and he adds PMN is not immune from these issues but it must continue to provide an authentic Pacific voice and view on issues.  

At the same time, it is important for PMN to attract non-Pacific peoples to Pacific culture, and maintain an inclusive environment (#InclusivelyPacific).    

“There is no better time globally to be a Pacific person - there are plenty of achievements in our communities to be celebrated,” he says.   

“We must also show non-Pacific peoples in New Zealand our contribution to this great nation.” 

Since 1993, PMN 531 (formerly Radio 531pi) has been serving Pacific communities a mix of news, views, information, talk-back and a mix of Pacific music.

It now broadcasts to: 

  • Whangarei 103.9 
  • Hamilton 103.4 
  • Rotorua 103.9 
  • Taupo 104.0 
  • Hawkes Bay 103.9 
  • Taranaki 103.6 
  • Manawatu 103.4 
  • Wellington 103.7/104.1 
  • Christchurch 104.1 
  • Dunedin 103.8 
  • Invercargill 103.9 

Visit PMN for more information.