Regional | Broadcasting

Auckland’s largest TV studio unveiled, setting stage for indigenous content

Auckland’s largest television studio floor and training facility, Hawaikirangi, was officially inaugurated today with a dawn karakia.

Iwi, politicians, broadcasters and creative producers joined Whakaata Māori kaimahi for the event. Spanning 232 square metres and located beside the Whakaata Māori building, the facility includes two studios, offices, audience spaces and live broadcast capabilities.

Māori Development Minister Willie Jackson called for political backing of the initiative. “We must tautoko this kaupapa. Don’t use us in the games. We are in a fight for our reo. We are in a fight for our culture,” he declared.

By comparison, mainstream had had generations of investment, he said.

The facility marks Whakaata Māori’s first in-house studio since relocating from Newmarket to East Tāmaki in 2017.

The move ends a six-year dependence on external studios.

Whakaata Māori toihau, Jamie Tuuta, said the studio would have a far-reaching impact. “Hawaikirangi provides opportunities to produce content on site, support the Māori media sector, as well as engage with schools and communities,” he said.

Whakaata Māori has seen a surge in audience engagement; it has doubled its Te Reo Channel audience in the past year, achieved 100,000 downloads of MĀORI+, and reached more than one million people through MĀORI ACTIVE, Tuuta said.

Named after the ancestral homeland of Hawaiki, the facility stands opposite the main Whakaata Māori offices, Hawaikitangata.

Whakaata Māori kaihautū Shane Taurima emphasised a collective achievement. “Less than a year ago, we had a warehouse. Today, we have Hawaikirangi,” he noted.

The building used existing equipment, and was built with sustainable materials, he added.

Hawaikirangi will serve as both a content creation facility, as well as vocational training for the creative industries.

Taurima, recently reappointed for another five-year term, also revealed that the next world conference of indigenous broadcasters would be hosted by Whakaata Māori in March next year.

The first broadcast from Hawaikirangi will be Whakatau 2023, featuring live debates and coverage of the general election starting September 19.