A column published in the Northland Age
By Hone Harawira
MP for Tai Tokerau
8 December 2009
Last weekend I was privileged to be over in Mangamuka for Radio Tautoko’s 21st birthday and I recall smiling all the way through the blessing ‘cause I was really happy for the Tautoko crew and so proud of everything they have done for Maori broadcasting in the north.
Tautoko got started in a dinky little 2 room bach across the road from the pub where you couldn’t have too many people in one room in case you tipped the station over on its end!
Back then nobody knew how to run a radio station – so everyone compensated with bucket-loads of enthusiasm, late night high-jinks, tapes and records from everyone (no CDs back then), and the kind of infectious vigour that every Maori kaupapa is built on.
And then there was the Chapman whanau - Cyril as the front man, Ma Chapman always hovering around with her never-ending smile and her boundless energy, and thousands of brothers and sisters making cups of teas, singing, cleaning, and doing their bit to keep things rolling.
Yes there were heaps of others (even I did a few stints at Tautoko), but it was the Chapman whanau and their down-home brand of Mangataipa love and affection that kept it all together back when nobody else had the courage or the vision to launch a Maori radio station.
They moved across into the old dairy factory building after a few years, and mate, by the time the 21st came around, you simply would not have believed it was the same building.
An exterior cut back to show the natural timber, smooth pastel walls, with new pou unveiled on the day, an awesome studio with big picture windows, a choice high-tech production room, and a big whanau room out the back with carpet and stained and polished wooden floors opening out onto a deck bathed in sunshine.
In fact, unless you were there in the old days you’d be hard pushed to picture the little shed where Tautoko had started!
They also had a wall dedicated to photos of those who had passed on, and it brought a tear to the eye, quickly wiped away by all the good memories that those people had brought to the thousands of people who have become dedicated Tautoko listeners over the past 21 years.
Oh yeah and I was wrong about how old Tehiku is. We’re only 19! We’re still bunnies! I thought we were 20 and that Cyril and the whanau must have been smoking something very high quality to have missed a year or two back in the day, but no … Cyril was right. Tehiku is still a baby, 19 years old on December 17th, and we salute him and the whole Tautoko crew for giving us the strength and the support to get ourselves started back in 1990.
For many of our rangatahi, Maori radio and now Maori television are a normal part of life. They are, thanks to pioneers like Cyril Chapman.