I will never forget the opening of Maori Television ten years ago today.

The moment Te Arikinui, Dame Te Atairangikaahu led the assembled crowd through the doors to Maori Television on March 28, 2004, I cried.

It was an entirely involuntary and unexpected reaction. Especially for such a renowned hard man as myself.

I knew at that moment that we were going to be a part of something that would change the fabric of broadcasting in Aotearoa.


It was also tinged with the sadness that so many Maori who fought for this new taonga did not live to see it come to pass.

As I write this piece and reflect on our last 10 years, I can't help but feel those tears well up again.

Our journey hasn't been smooth, by any stretch of the imagination. Every waka traverses turbulent seas. But Maori Television is still afloat. And many of the naysayers braying so loudly at the time of our launch now take pride in its journey. Some even want to climb aboard.

It's the people though that I remember the most. Pero Cameron giving MTS a shout-out after the Tall Blacks beat the Aussies for the first time on Australian soil. Or Sir Paul Holmes saying on Waitangi Day that watching Maori Television "made me feel like I was watching NZ today".

Or witnessing the masses who assembled to mourn the passing of Te Arikinui, Dame Te Atairangikaahu on Te Kaea. We must tell our stories - the good and the bad. They must be told by our people. And we must tell them in our own way.

There have been some hard case moments too, like Chad Chambers blowing the audience away on Homai Te Pakipaki in his white gumboots and wearing his Ngati Porou-East Coast rugby jersey.

Code following the Ranfurly Shield as it made its way, hilariously, from Canterbury to North Harbour for the first time. And, behind the scenes, witnessing the battle among our female staff to welcome and host Hawaiian actor Jason Momoa, from Conan and Game of Thrones - that was manaakitanga as a contact sport!

Maori Television is more than just a television station.


We stand as a symbol for the fight to ensure our language never dies. We stand as a memorial for all of our leaders who fought to ensure that Maori will always have a place in our homeland. We stand today as a symbol of Maori survival, of Maori struggle and of Maori success.

I hope all New Zealanders celebrate this day with us. I also hope Maori across the world celebrate this occasion. And I for one will shed a few tears of pride, for the last ten years that have ensured Maori Television has left an indelible mark on Aotearoa/New Zealand.

Julian Wilcox is Maori TV's general manager of news and current affairs