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Indigenous Magazine of Contemporary Maori to Close

22 FEBRUARY 2013

Indigenous Magazine of Contemporary Maori to Close

New Zealand’s leading online indigenous lifestyle magazine, TU MAI, will cease publishing under the umbrella of TU MAI Media Plus Limited. For almost 14 years to the month since its launch at Te Papa Tongarewa in 1999, the magazine has captured and showcased an impressive decade of contemporary Maori.

Founder and editor, Ata Te Kanawa, says that as well as the difficulties of keeping a publishing business afloat in the current economic climate, her interests in other areas have intensified and demanded more time, resources and energy. “I’m really chuffed at what I have achieved which was a commitment to portray a contemporary perspective on Maori issues that differed to that conveyed in mainstream media – but the juggling act of TU MAI and other interests can no longer continue.”

TU MAI relocated from Hamilton to Wellington in 2008; after 114 editions in a glossy hard copy format, the decision was made to go entirely digital in 2010. Te Kanawa says the online move was inevitable as the recession had set in and printing costs continued to rise. “I was one of the first independent magazines to go digital – possibly before my time – but look at what’s happening now: so much information is readily available online in some form or another – and free.”

Interestingly, Te Kanawa says her readers had no problems with the switch from hard copy to an online format but some advertising agencies could not accept TU MAI’s Maori readership were internet literate. “I reminded one agency staff member that the internet arrived on earth at the same time for all of us – not 1840 when the Treaty of Waitangi was signed. And no, Maori are definitely not lagging behind in technology.”

Currently an external communications contractor for PHARMAC, Te Kanawa is also building on the Miromoda brand, a business to capitalise on Maori uniqueness in the fashion industry. The annual national Miromoda competition selects up to eight Maori fashion designers to show at New Zealand Fashion Week. She is also a trustee for TIKI – the entity charged with managing ‘toi iho’, the Maori trademark of quality and authenticity launched under the auspices of Creative New Zealand in 2002.

Te Kanawa says she is familiar with a Maori community that is vibrant, culturally and confidently rich while making gains in the economic, creative and educational areas but “sadly, this is not a widespread or common view of Maori for most New Zealanders”. The outspoken publisher of Ngati Maniapoto descent hails from a strong creative core. Both her late mother and grandmother were recipients of honorary doctorates and numerous art awards for their nationally and internationally recognised expertise in traditional Maori weaving.

By her own admission, Te Kanawa says she knows little about flax weaving but was encouraged by her matriarchal family to be creative and was taught to understand the high level of passion and dedication required to produce quality work. “I have thoroughly enjoyed my passionate struggle to weave words for TU MAI,” jokes Te Kanawa. On a more serious note, she believes she has provided positive affirmation for her mostly Maori readers for at least a decade and, in return, “managed to get some fantastic, loyal and supportive people on board. Together, we just got on with the job and did it!”


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