Launch Pacific Radio Network

  • Mark Gosche
Pacific Island Affairs

Saturday 15 December 2001Speech Notes

Embargoed Until Delivery noon Saturday
Kia orana, Ni sa bula, Taloha ni, Fakaalofa lahi atu, Malo e lelei, Halo Oketa, Ia orana, Kia ora, Talofa lava, and warm Pacific greetings to you all.

I would like to acknowledge my colleagues, Marian, Judith Tizard who is Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage, Matt Robson and Ross Robertson. I offer apologies on behalf of Taito Philip Field, Arthur Anae, Paul Swain and Manukua Mayor Sir Barry Curtis, who were unable to be here today.

It is a great pleasure to be here today to announce what I believe is one of this Government’s most significant achievements for Pacific people.

For many years Pacific people have called for a Pacific radio network. Today you have already heard that the Government has allocated a FM frequency for Pacific radio.

That is a major victory in itself, but I am proud to say we have more good news. That is that the government has earmarked a signficant amount of funding to pilot a national Pacific community radio network over the next four years.

In total we will give almost $7.7 million to set up this network - $1.445 million in capital funding this financial year and $6.21 million for operating costs over the next four years.

Finally, a national Pacific radio network is really in sight. Finally Pacific peoples’ cultures and languages are to be heard on New Zealand’s national airways.

The network will be driven and operated by Pacific communities, for Pacific communities. It will run on a not-for profit basis, and provide for regional input.

While Tagata Pasifika has done an excellent job providing a national television presence for Pacific communities, there is no other communications vehicle to give our communities a national voice.

For many years individual regional Pacific radio programmes have given us a voice locally, but this network will now complement their pioneering work by enabling them to broadcast nationally relevant programmes across the country.

The reach of the Pacific radio network will parallel some of the largest networks in the country, with about 85% of the country covered and studios in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

This network will link our Pacific communities regionally and nationally. It will allow us to debate topical issues, and coordinate and organise ourselves more effectively than ever before.

It will also help strengthen our Pacific languages and cultures and give thousands more listeners access to the great talents of our musicians and artists.

As well Pacific communities will be able to receive news that is of relevance, interest and benefit. A strong theme that has emerged over the years from consultation with Pacific communities is that many people don’t know about existing programmes and services that are available to them. People don’t know how to access them, and who is eligible.

A national radio network will help change that.

It will also strengthen Pacific capacity to manage and produce radio services for themselves by harnessing the best available Pacific broadcasting and management talent throughout New Zealand, and fostering new talent.

Together these benefits mean that a Pacific radio network will help educate, promote and challenge Pacific communities throughout New Zealand to achieve their potential.

At the same time other New Zealanders will get a window through which they can be better informed about the lives of Pacific communities throughout New Zealand.

This is a dream realized. These decisions will bring to fruition something that our people have lobbied and advocated for for many, many years, individually and collectively.

It has been a long and hard journey, and many of you here today have been a part of the journey and have contributed to where we are now. So thank you for all your hard work and dedication, and for coming today to celebrate such a great milestone.

I am very proud to be a part of the Government that has heard the call, and addressed the need.

Some of you may have also participated this year in meetings to discuss the concept of the radio network with officials from the Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs. At that time we simply were working to secure frequencies and funding for our network and together with your support we have accomplished that.

But of course much more work is still to be done.

A steering group led by the Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs will report to ministers on the next phase of work.

This work will include establishing governance arrangements and a strategic plan for the network, as well as developing mechanisms for monitoring the pilot and ultimately for getting the network on air.

Pacific communities will have an opportunity to provide input to the governance arrangements, and you will be hearing more on how to do that.

The Ministry for Culture and Heritage will lead work associated with contracting, monitoring and evaluating the network.

The network provider will be selected through a tender process – which you will hear about early next year. It is my hope that our Pacific broadcasting community will work cooperatively during this process. There are at the moment too few of us in the broadcasting business and I believe that this is one area where we should be looking to harness the best of our skills and talents to ensure the network’s success.

All this will take some time but I am hopeful that we can have the Pacific network live to air in the second half of next year.

Pacific communities now have the material and tools with which to build towards that goal. It is appropriate we celebrate today with some Pacific music.

Ia manuia tele.