5 Jun 2019

Te Ao o Moana: Platforms for activism

From Nine To Noon, 10:05 am on 5 June 2019

Moana Maniapoto has a long and successful musical career. She's just finished a month-long tour called 'My Name is Moana' which was a 90-minute musical tribute to the ocean and along with her original band, The Moa Hunters, she picked up the Classic Record Award for their 1993 album Tahi at last month's Taite Music Prize.

She's been more focused in recent years on directing documentaries with husband Toby Mills and she's about to make another move into current affairs, with a new programme called Te Ao with Moana on Māori Television.

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Photo: Maori Television

She’s excited about the Te Ao team.

“My cunning plan is that I will try and bask in their sunlight, try and be myself and everything will be coming through a Māori lens, that’s the whole point of this.”

The show will look at some of the big issues of the day and what’s relevant to Māori communities, she says.

“People outside of Auckland have some similar concerns and some different issues so I’m really happy that our journalists are based outside of Auckland.”

Maniapoto says there’s various platforms for activism: “There’s still the people on the streets but people need to find their platform, their space where they think that they can’t make a difference. When I was travelling around the country, I said to people that sometimes when you go off shore you realise how big the movement is that we can lock into different communities, different indigenous communities around the world, a growing number of non-indigenous communities who share the same values and the same concerns about the future and where we’re going, that kind of makes it less traumatic as we face down some pretty big crises.”

She believes the answers to some of the big problems we face are here with us.

“I think that all cultures, if you roll back the decades and the centuries, you see that there is a shared value system. So when we talk about Manākitanga, kaitiakitanga, tino rangatiratanga, these are the kind of treasures that we can use these days to connect people with their land, with that multigenerational, intergenerational approach that indigenous people have.

“A treaty relationship, an honest, authentic, meaningful treaty relationship is the pathway to address some of these big issues, I’m absolutely convinced of it."

It’s about understanding that everything’s connected; when we look at a river, we look at it in its entirety and our survival depends on the health of our waterways, she says.

Institutions need to adapt to new, connected ways of thinking, she says.

“It’s going to be Māori and the poor that are the hardest hit [by climate change].

“We have to find ways to build our relationships as New Zealanders and I’ve found that art is a very powerful tool in bringing people together.”

Maniapoto says her generation, her circle, are trying to move the people forward.

“We’re constantly thinking about ‘is this move good for all of us’. I mean I don’t really know how to think any other way and I don’t know anyone in my life who doesn’t think like that. It’s just how ingrained it is.

 “I don’t give myself labels of activist, radicalist, feminist, any ‘ist’.”