15 Jul 2017

NZ broadcaster Marama Martin dies

5:21 pm on 15 July 2017

The broadcaster Marama Martin has died in Nelson.

Marama Martin appears on Telethon in 1981.

Marama Martin appears on Telethon in 1981. Photo: NZ On Screen

Mrs Martin was a television presenter in the early days of the medium in the 1960s and 1970s.

Mrs Martin was born in New Plymouth and her first job was in teaching.

She joined NZBC in the early 1960s, working initially in radio, but eventually became a fixture on television, initially on Wellington's programmes, and then on the national telecasts.

Her friendly style, going through the programmes for the evening, in the days when there was just one channel to watch, made her one of New Zealand's best known faces.

She was the first person to appear on colour television in New Zealand in 1973, when she wore a mauve dress.

She was also one of the first Māori broadcasters to feature regularly on television.

She was the last person to appear on NZBC before it was converted to two competing TV channels in 1975.

After the break-up of the NZBC, Mrs Martin's TV appearances were less frequent, although she appeared occasionally on the afternoon chat show Beauty and the Beast.

In an interview with The Listener in 1974, at the height of her fame, she said television announcers "are really very ordinary people. We don't do anything fantastic or marvellous... We just happen to have a skill or talent, or whatever, that relatively few people have... To be a success on television, you need something indefinable... You can't pretend to be something you're not. You could try, but the television camera is so revealing, you can't hide."

Mrs Martin also worked in radio, commentating on the 1970 visit to New Zealand by the Queen and as an announcer for the YC stations, which are now RNZ Concert.

She also did broadcasts of the Correspondence School, but retired from broadcasting in 1978, returning to her original work as a teacher.