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What It Means to Be Māori in an Urban Setting

Tuesday 22 October 2019

New Podcast Series – What It Means to Be Māori in an Urban Setting

He Kākano Ahau: Urban and Māori, is a six-part podcast series that explores what it means to be Māori in an urban setting and the power of connections. The series is hosted by writer and activist Kahu Kutia and will be released on RNZ from Tuesday, 22 October.

He Kākano Ahau is one of the projects made possible through the RNZ / NZ On Air Joint Innovation Fund*, a one-off $6m fund announced last year to commission public media content for New Zealand audiences. Projects focus on voices that are seldom heard but which reflect Aotearoa’s unique culture and identity.

In the six episodes and one short documentary Kahu sets out to find what connects us as Māori in the city. Her journey takes her between Tāmaki Makaurau, Ōtautahi, and Te Whanganui-ā-Tara. She could never have predicted the twists that would happen along the way. Some heart-warming; some heart breaking.

I thought this journey would really be about confirming some basic assumptions that I already had. In fact, creating this podcast involved huge learnings for me, and more than anything else it reminded me of the power of connection. Not just connection to your whakapapa, but connection between yourself and others, connection to the land beneath your feet, and the power that comes from a community.”

Kahu grew up in Waimana, a small community on the northern edge of Te Urewera - a place where almost everyone is Ngāi Tūhoe and where Kahu was able to learn the stories of her people and locate herself in the world.

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In 2015 she moved to Te Whanganui-ā-Tara for university and found herself questioning her understanding of what it means to be Māori. In an urban setting, Kahu found that a Māori identity was able to be defined in ways she had never considered before.

Whether it’s a journey through the (now destroyed) Tapu Te Ranga Marae, Manu Kōrero regional speech competitions in Te Waipounamu, or interviews from the frontline at Ihumātao, He Kākano Ahau reaffirms that Te Ao Māori is thriving within every single one of us.

All episodes and a short documentary will be available on RNZ https://www.rnz.co.nz/programmes/hekakanoahau and all major podcast platforms.

Shorter versions will play on RNZ National on Tuesdays at 1.50pm from 22nd October – 26th November 2019.


Kahu Kutia – researcher, writer and host

Kahu Kutia was raised in between the glorious maunga of her papakāinga; Te Urewera. As a child in a very isolated place, Kahu grew up swimming in her awa, reading a lot, and refusing to ride the many horses that roam free in the valley. It was in Waimana that she was able to learn the stories and history of Ngāi Tūhoe, from her father and wider whānau.

Kahu is an activist and freelance writer currently working in the archive industry. She is a steering member of Te Ara Whatu, who were awarded the Amnesty International Ambassador of Conscience award in 2019. She has previously written for publications like Vice NZ, Te Ao Mārama, Pantograph Punch, Theatre Review and The Wireless. Her goal is always to uplift the unheard stories within Te Ao Māori, and prioritise the worldviews of rangatahi in a challenging environment.

Frances Morton - producer

Frances Morton is a journalist and editor with a keen interest in telling stories focused on the future of Aotearoa New Zealand. Frances was raised in Tauranga assuming everyone wanted to be a journalist when they grew up. She travelled, studied a master’s in Journalism at UTS, Sydney and returned home as a cub reporter on the Bay of Plenty Times.

Her career has taken her through the changing media landscape from writing long-form feature articles for Metro and Herald on Sunday into the digital environment as Head of Content for Vice New Zealand.

She was nominated for Editorial Executive of the Year at the Voyager Media Awards 2018 and oversaw the production of Vice’s Zealandia documentary series which has been viewed by millions around the world. Frances is currently Head of Re: News at TVNZ. He Kākano Ahau is her first podcast project.

Melody Thomas - editor

Melody Thomas is the creator of sex and sexuality podcast BANG!, sometime-presenter and producer for Music 101, and writer for various print and online media.

A graduate of the New Zealand Broadcasting School, Melody was once advised to 'channel her creativity into ad writing'. Ever contrary, she decided to find a place where she would never have to write, listen to or think about an ad for the rest of her broadcasting life.

From making her first feature for Spectrum to producing shows like Summer Noelle and Afternoons, Melody eventually came to work with Music 101, producing live shows, long-form features and presenting over the summer. In 2016 Melody fell in love with podcasts as a medium and the seed was planted for her own series BANG!, a frank, no-shame exploration into sex, sexuality and relationships over the lifetime.

Ursula Williams – executive producer

Born of New Zealand/Samoan descent producer/director Ursula Grace Williams was immersed in the art of filmmaking from childhood, growing up on set with her mother and sister working as wardrobe designers and her father working in art departments.

She directed her first short film Wahine Whispers while a postgraduate student at AUT. Ursula’s short film The King, made as a part of her Master’s thesis, won her the audience award at the NZIFF for best short, screened at the Sydney Film Festival 2016 and won her the Inaugural Bright Sunday Emerging Pasifika Director Award at the 2016 Wāiroa Maori Film Festival.

While producer at Vice New Zealand, Ursula was a key creative force behind the flagship Zealandia series, directing and producing episodes including Gangsters in Paradise: The Deportees of Tonga, NZ’s Deadly Synthetic Drugs Epidemic, Lost Boys of Taranaki and Inside Sex Work in New Zealand.


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