It was only five years ago when one of Aotearoa’s rising Māori journalists was told he’d never go far with te reo Māori.
Yet Kaitāia’s D’Angelo Martin (Te Rarawa) has achieved more in his young life through his love of te reo Māori than some people have their entire career.
As someone who speaks te reo Māori as his first language, Martin attributes his passion for his culture to his parents, who made a conscious effort to raise their children in te ao Māori as part of their own reclamation journey.
“My parents didn’t grow up with te reo Māori, so it was after my older brother was born that my mum went on to become a kōhanga reo teacher,” Martin said.
“She was also my kōhanga teacher.”
Upon graduating from Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Te Rangi Āniwaniwa in 2016, Martin said despite his love of his hometown, his career options in Kaitāia were limited.
He therefore jumped at the opportunity to study performing arts and Māori theatre in Tāmaki Makaurau [Auckland].
The transition to the supercity was tough, though, and after completing his first year of study, he decided to take a gap year in retail.
Martin said he quickly found out the retail life wasn’t for him and felt a karanga [calling] to re-connect to te ao Māori.
This would ultimately lead him to a career he loved, and he thanked his partner Hai Anh (Hailie) for helping him along the way.
“I fell into journalism by mistake because my partner actually applied [for me] behind my back,” Martin said.
“So randomly after work one day, I got a call from Māori TV saying they had seen my CV and wanted to see me for an interview.
“I got the job, and remember putting in my resignation and my old boss asking what I was doing.
“I told him I wanted to get back into te ao Māori, and he said, ‘Well, you’re not going to go very far with that’.”
Martin has since proved his old boss wrong, going from strength to strength in his career and taking out this year’s Best Junior Reporter award at the Voyager NZ Media Awards.
Over 2018-2019, Martin was also the face of WorkSafe New Zealand’s “Be a Safe Guy” campaign, and in 2020 worked with the NZ Electoral Commission’s online advertisements to encourage young Kiwis to vote in the 2020 elections.
Martin attributed his success to being mentored by the likes of veteran Māori journalist Kereama Wright and everything he’d learned since joining the team at Māori news and current affairs programme The Hui in 2021.
He said he was humbled to be scouted by “the aunties”- award-winning journalist and broadcaster Mihingarangi Forbes and producer Annabelle Lee-Mather- who took him under their wings and showed him the ropes.
“I was really keen to take the position because I knew what they’d done in terms of the media space,” Martin said.
“They’d been in a tough position through past stories, so for them to be able to come out of the tunnel and create The Hui eight years ago was huge.”
While he was incredibly proud of his success, Martin said his absolute proudest achievement was his whānau and becoming a pāpā to his son, Kuaka.
Together with his partner, the couple kōrero [talk] with their son in te reo Māori, Vietnamese and English.
In the future, Martin said they eventually planned to fully immerse themselves in each other’s languages so their entire whānau could converse in all three languages.
“My son is like a sponge at the moment. He’s picking up things rapidly, and even his kōhanga teachers say he’s very smart and fluent in te reo and Vietnamese,” Martin said.
“I’m enrolled in a Level 7 te reo course at the moment, and when life gets a little bit less busy, we’ll switch codes and learn each other’s languages.”
The Hui airs on Monday at 4.30pm, going live to newshub.co.nz/The Hui Facebook page, then on Tuesday after the late Newshub broadcast. It will first get airplay on Three on Wednesday at 5pm and on Prime on Sunday at 9am, and will replay on Three on Sunday at 5pm and on Whakaata Māori a week behind.