Fund supports more Pacific languages on-air

posted: 9:00 pm - 16th February 2020
AwaFM Papa Tom Webb Ngametua Areaiiti Silo Naqasima 2020.CR2

(Picture caption: L-R AwaFM's Papa Tom Webb, Ngametua Areaiiti and Silo Naqasima.) 

More Cook Islands Māori and Fijian will be broadcasted on air around Whanganui, Raetihi and Taumarunui regions thanks to the Languages Innovation Fund (LIF).

The Whanganui-based AwaFM is an Iwi-run radio station, which was established three decades ago to promote the Māori language in the Whanganui dialect to the whole Whanganui Region, from the mountains in the Central Plateau to the sea through Whanganui City.  

People can now listen online, around the Manawatu region and abroad. 

The station has recently received a grant from the Ministry for Pacific Peoples new LIF so it can expand its 20-year-old Cook Islands Māori show, hosted by Papa Tom Webb from Mangaia, Rarotonga.

AwaFM’s Manager Whetu Fala, who is of Māori, Samoan and Rotuman descent, says Papa Tom’s show is the longest running one at the station and the host will be joined by Ngametua Areiiti.

“We are also adding a brand-new Fijian language show, Voice of Fiji from Whanganui, presented by Silo Naquasima and Benji Seru,” Whetu says.

“Together they broadcast two hours a week all year.”  

The Fund is one of the key initiatives resulting from the $20m Wellbeing Budget investment announced by the Government in 2019 to support community innovation over the next four years to ensure Aotearoa is home to thriving Pacific languages.

Launched at the Lalanga Fou Languages and High Tech Fono in November, 2019, the LIF will be piloted for 12 months and it is aimed at supporting community initiatives that support celebrating and increasing the awareness of Pacific languages; help grow the number of speakers of Pacific languages; and help ensure that Pacific languages are recognised and valued. 

“Funds like the LIF are vital for Pacific languages to flourish in Aotearoa,” Whetu adds. 

“Language is at the heart of each nation; without access to it our native cultures will vanish, and our voices will be lost in the face of the tsunami of languages and information now available on all platforms.” 

Whetu and the team at AwaFM are excited about using the grant to support the show presenters to share news and stories of the Rarotonga and Fiji communities in the Whanganui-Manawatu region in their own languages. 

She is very encouraging of groups and individuals to apply for a LIF grant if they facilitate initiatives which support the growth and recognition of Pacific languages in New Zealand. 

“Our communities have very little resources available for Pacific languages. 

“We are so lucky to have a Languages Innovation Fund most countries do not have this type of fund – you must apply.” 

Visit MPP for more information about the Languages Innovation Fund and how to apply.