A weekly Punua Pāoho (podcast) that was the brainchild of two passionate Te Wānanga o Aotearoa kaimahi (staff) has won a major award at the Ngā Tohu Reo Māori / National Māori Language Awards 2018.
Taringa was winner of the Mātauranga — Kaupapa Māori / Education — Māori Medium award at the award ceremony held at Te Papa.
The weekly podcast, which is presented in English and te reo, has been running about 17 months and has grown to attract about 25,000 listeners per month from New Zealand and around the globe.
It started with about 100 listeners per episode — but momentum grew quickly because there was nothing else like it.
It began through a conversation between Wānanga kaimahi Paraone Gloyne — Te Reo Māori Advisor — and Morgan Samuel, sound engineer at Te Wānanga Aotearoa's Te Ipurau Media Unit.
Paraone says he had been wanting to do a te reo Māori themed podcast through Te Wānanga o Aotearoa for a while.
He approached Morgan, who had the experience, and they formulated a plan to use the power of podcasting to teach people about te reo Māori and te ao Māori (the traditional Māori world view).
He says Paraone had the knowledge, passion and drive and just needed the medium to make it happen.
Morgan is producer and lead audio engineer of the show, along with supporting audio engineers Joe McNamara and Alana McDonald.
He plans the episodes and makes sure everyone and everything is in place for recording, and a combination of the engineers record, edit, master and publish the show, including Waiata o te wiki (a song) performed and recorded in house for every episode by in-house kaimahi.
"I wanted to make sure this was a top level production," Morgan says.
"Anyone can record a podcast on their phone or computer microphone, but I wanted ours to stand out as being of radio quality."
Using the best equipment available through Te Ipurau Media Unit, and proper studio etiquette, he has achieved his goal.
"One of the most common compliments is how good Taringa sounds."
Morgan says the success of Taringa relies heavily on Paraone's knowledge and experience in te reo Māori and te ao Māori, his ability to host either a radio or TV programme and skill at interacting with other hosts and guests.
"I feel privileged to be working with him," Morgan says.
When the podcast was launched the idea was to aim it at anyone wanting a relaxed and fun introduction to te reo or tikanga Māori (Māori customs).
"It would be enjoyed by anyone who has an interest in knowing more about te reo Māori and te ao Māori.
"It's conversational and fun to listen to," said Paraone when he spoke to the Te Awamutu Courier in August last year.
"It's a great way for people to learn some te reo Māori, tikanga and kōrero tuku iho (traditional narratives that have been passed down through the generations) while listening in the car, at mahi (work), or wherever."
At the start it was planned to run on a four-weekly rotation of kaupapa (topics):
- Kupu kupu kupu (vocabulary) — phrases, whakatauki (proverbs, quotes) and various topics pertaining to te reo and its use.
- Iwi o te Wiki — a random iwi is picked out, with a kōrero (discussion) about that iwi and their history and pepeha (tribal saying);
- Once upon a Taima — storytelling, traditional and contemporary purakau Māori (narratives).
- Tikanga 101 — discussion about tikanga Māori (customary practices), some of the less spoken about things, or questions.
This format proved instantly successful and remains after more than 70 episodes.
The show also features guests and a supporting cast of Te Wānanga o Aotearoa kaimahi whenever extra characters are needed for Once upon a Taima.
"Staff and management have come to be highly supportive of Taringa and colleagues are happy to participate," says Paraone.
Morgan says it takes about an hour to record material for a 45-minute programme — then three to four hours for engineers to edit and add enhancements, such as the sound effects for Once upon a Taima, which is often presented as a play.
Technically, the podcast is put out on as many platforms as possible, to reach the greatest audience.
And it remains a unique concept — Paraone says there is still nothing else like it on the world wide web.
The team aim to keep it that way — working in-house to maintain its authenticity.
And they have resisted the urge to go commercial for the same reason.
Video episodes are made for special occasions, such as Matariki.
Last week I sat in on the filming of the Christmas Special, featuring original presenter Lyndsay Snowden, presenter Paraone Gloyne, new presenter Erica Sinclair and guest Te Wānanga o Aotearoa Te Taiurungi / chief executive Te Ururoa Flavell as Santa and speaking predominantly te reo.