The Rotorua Weekender has won funding to produce a new bilingual news section aimed at shining a light on local iwi issues and people.
New Zealand On Air's Public Interest Journalism fund has agreed to fund $440,000 for a four-page weekly section over two years.
NZME was working with local trust Te Mau Aroha and writer Roimata Mihinui on the project. A name for the section and its launch date would be announced in the near future.
The news articles would have versions in te reo and English as a way of connecting Māori content with Māori and other cultures in the Rotorua community.
Stories would be diverse including, but not limited to, iwi representation on council and politics, iwi developments and initiatives, iwi money and investment, local Māori achieving in their field of work, education and sport, as well as Māori health and education initiatives in the community.
There would be a special focus on rangatahi.
Scott Inglis, regional editor for Weekender publisher NZME, said the initiative was exciting and the stories would be written for Māori through a Māori lens.
''It will champion people and shine a light on important local iwi-related issues,'' Inglis says.
Inglis believed the Weekender, with an audited readership of 27,000 people, was the perfect platform.
''It will ensure this important content is freely available to thousands of people across Rotorua. The content will also be published on NZME's digital platforms, including the Rotorua Daily Post and NZ Herald's Kāhu section - giving it huge exposure to an even wider audience.
''We're also hopeful that we can identify future local Māori journalists through this project. So, we see this as the beginning of something really special.''
Roimata Mihinui, a senior journalist of Te Arawa with 50 years' experience in journalism, said the initiative ushered in a new era in news publishing.
''Welcome to a new dawn in New Zealand journalism. This uri of Tuhourangi is blessed to be able to help navigate our waka through uncharted waters.
''This is a positive and innovative initiative to provide our communities with a platform to connect with each other in te reo and English. Ka mau te wehi.''
NZME head of cultural partnerships Lois Turei said it was an exciting initiative, particularly for the Weekender and its parent company NZME.
"It's a privilege to be able to share perspectives by Māori, for Māori, in te reo. It is a wonderful opportunity to work in partnership with iwi organisations to develop and become a voice of te ao Māori in Rotorua."
Te Arawa Trust chairman Sir Toby Curtis wished the newspaper well in launching its new bilingual news section.
"When you speak to people in a language they understand it goes to their head, but when you speak to people in their mother tongue it goes to their heart."
Te Pūkenga Koeke o Te Whare Taonga o Te Arawa chairman Monty Morrison said it was great to hear the newspaper had made a commitment to te reo Māori.
Morrison said te reo was being normalised across the nation.
"Te reo is the cornerstone of Māori and who we are as New Zealanders ... clearly, it is important for our identity."
Rotorua Lakes Council cultural ambassador and councillor Trevor Maxwell said he was "thrilled" about NZME's new initiative.
"We have been celebrating for a few years now being the first bilingual city in New Zealand and this is just another very important progress on our journey together here in Rotorua.
"It means that we are practising genuine partnerships ... I think this is tremendous, especially for our young ones."