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Presentation of award to Henare Kingi

Presentation of award to Henare Kingi by Creative NZ for services to the Maori community, Hone Harawira, Maori Party MP Saturday August 12 2006.

Westpac Stadium, Wellington, 6.30pm

I see Henare Kīngi through many eyes:

 he is my uncle, from Ngati Rēhia, from Ngāpuhi
 his brother’s daughter is married to my mother’s son
 he is an announcer on Upoko o Te Ika
 he is one of the most beautiful speakers of Maori and English that I know
 he is the snappiest dresser in all of Maoridom
 he brings joy to my world

In fact, I have had such a love for his gift of the reo, that every year, I religiously offer him a job back home in the far North where I know he will be a star; and every year he gracefully declines my offer.

I tell him that he is preaching to the lumpen proletariat, that his words are like pearls before swine, that his talents are lost amidst the swirling winds of Wellington, and that only Ngāpuhi can truly appreciate his great gift of oratory; and yet still, he declines my bribery, and he stays true to his broadcasting roots here in the belly of the monster.

And without even having to ask people in Wellington, I know why his ties to Upoko are so strong.

Henare Kīngi is an announcer on Te Upoko o Te Ika, and without knowing what he is getting paid, might I suggest that he is certainly not getting what he would get if he moved home to the north.

But, be that as it may, Henare is their resident kaumātua who, according to my friend Wena Tait, brings to the station depth and sustainability - hard qualities to find in anyone these days, especially broadcasting.

And they reckon he is also the“best koro announcer on this earth”.

Henare Kīngi is also a legend in Maori radio circles.

He is recognised as a champion of the reo, sometimes brutally so to those of us who struggle to match his linguistic talent …

He is an entertainer like all Ngāpuhi,
He is an educator unlike most Ngāpuhi, and
He knows his history like all Ngāpuhi like to think they do.

He is also an old hand at Te Upoko - this country’s first and longest running Māori radio station, and I know that since they started in 1982, Upoko has faced many big challenges like:

transmission marketing funding cuts the politics of jealousy the push towards FM location, location, location

finding Maori language broadcast skills and the tension between commercialism and kaupapa

I know that in those 24 years, Upoko has risen to all of these challenges, and I know that Henare has been a beacon of hope for much of that time.

Rightfully so then, Henare’s talents have seen him earn a reputation as a well respected kaumātua in Wellington from government agencies right through to grassroots whanau.

And a reputation amongst the staff at Te Upoko as“the most passionate, supportive, sympathetic, and nurturing kaumātua in the world!” although I suspect they only say that to keep him from heading north.

Wena Tait describes him as “Songs of a Kaumātua” - the voice of the people, the first voice we hear in the morning on 1161 AM.

For me, hearing Henare on the radio every morning I’m in town, reminds me of home, and the pride of being Ngāpuhi.

Matua - I join with Creative New Zealand in recognising your great work, and I join with many others in honouring your contribution to the Maori community.

And, I offer you the chance once again, to come home to Te Hiku o te Ika, to work on the best radio station in the whole wide world.

E te rangatira, ko koe tera - he kaumātua, he tauira, he rangatira.

Tena koutou, tena koutou, kia ora koutou katoa.


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