The Maori news programme Te Karere broadcast live English subtitles for the first time yesterday in a move an academic believes will open up the Maori world for Pakeha.
Presented by Scotty Morrison on One, the show averages around 60,000 viewers daily at 4pm. Later repeat editions already carry subtitles.
Executive producer Shane Taurima said the decision to use "closed captions" - where viewers have to select the option on their TV - was in response to growing demand from non-Maori speakers.
"We receive emails and letters every day from viewers wanting to be able to understand Te Karere so we hope the move will extend our reach to a non-Maori-speaking audience and therefore expect it to have a positive effect on ratings."
Yesterday, the show carried reports on a Maori milk production co-operative, controversy over the Rugby World Cup Waka Maori project and the United States debt crisis.
The live interview segment with Mana Party leader Hone Harawira, who confirmed his party would stand candidates in the Maori seats, did not carry subtitles because the technology has a way to go.
Mr Taurima said he did not expect to face criticism from te reo purists over the change because people would still be exposed to the language.
"The addition of closed captions is giving our viewers a choice. It's most definitely a step forward for Maori language and broadcasting."
He expected that the introduction of the 4pm subtitles would lead to faster follow-ups of Te Karere stories by mainstream media.
Auckland University Maori media specialist Dr Sue Abel said the development would allow non-Maori a wider look at issues in Maoridom.
"I think it's about having a voice and the voice comes in two languages - English and Maori."
HOW TO GET SUBTITLES: http://goo.gl/i2zpL